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GOP can’t hide the crazy

The battle for control of the fiercely contested Iowa state Senate (Democrats control it 26-24) will run through Des Moines’s highly competitive district 34. Thus, it was a blow to Iowa Republicans when their nominee, Randi Shannon, unexpectedly dropped out of the race.  

As Shannon explained in an email to supporters, an exciting new opportunity had presented itself: “I have become aware of the existence of the Original Republic for The United States of America … This is The Republic founded in 1787 and then abandoned during The Civil War in the 1860s.” Rather than deal with the messiness of running for state Senate in the real world, she decided to inhabit crazytown. “I have accepted the position of U.S. Senator in The Republic of The United States of America, where I may better serve You and All of The People of Iowa.” Apparently, this alternate right-wing bizarro government (first law: Life begins at conception) doesn’t need to bother with the messiness of democracy. 

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The craziness is strong with grassroots elected conservatives throughout the nation. In Texas, the state party officially opposes teaching “critical thinking” in public schools because it challenges “the student’s fixed beliefs and [undermines] parental authority.” And apparently, that’s bad. Of 21 Republicans running for the state board of education, 10 disagreed with the statement “it is the government’s responsibility to be sure children are properly educated.” Eight others refused to answer the question. A Republican board member, George Clayton, was ousted in a primary. He believes in evolution and is gay. He never stood a chance.

In Louisiana, a school voucher-supported textbook claims that the Loch Ness Monster is real, which disproves Darwin’s theory of evolution. Another argues “the [Ku Klux] Klan in some areas of the country tried to be a means of reform, fighting the decline in morality and using the symbol of the cross.” 

That voucher program was designed to help fund religious private schools, but — oops! — turns out there’s more than one religion. “I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity,” state Rep. Valerie Hodges said. “Unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion … I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.”

New Hampshire Republican Rep. Bob Kingsbury claimed at a county party convention that according to his own “research,” “kindergarten programs lead to higher crime rates.” In Michigan, House Republicans literally banned two female legislators from speaking after they tried to argue against an extreme anti-choice bill. The sin? Using the word “vagina” during the debate. Vaginas make Republicans cry.

Indeed, the Republican Party has gone so far off the rails, voters are having a hard time fully grasping just how crazy they are. When the pro-Barack Obama super-PAC Priorities USA told a focus group that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney supported Paul Ryan’s budget that ended Medicare as we know it while also pushing for more tax cuts for the rich, they refused to believe it. Those respondents simply couldn’t fathom that the GOP nominee would champion something so patently ridiculous — but Romney, like virtually every congressional Republican, has done just that. The truth is just too weird for many Americans to believe.

This cognitive dissonance might be an advantage for Republicans. Voters won’t punish a party that they refuse to believe has lost touch with reality. But the GOP can’t hide the crazy forever.

Moulitsas is the publisher and founder of Daily Kos (dailykos.com).