In 2009, the so-called Birther movement became an embarrassing distraction for the conservative movement. Many conservatives spoke out against the Birthers, who believe President Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya, forged his birth certificate, and is therefore ineligible to be president. I surely did. Still, many insisted on subscribing to it, though luckily their numbers seem fewer today than ever.
For conservatives, Obama is bad. In fact, he's the biggest big-government president to date. Conservatives don't need conspiracy theories to convince them that Obama's agenda must be stopped. There is no need to look for secret conspiracies when the damage is being done in plain sight every day.
Most conservatives have come to see the Birthers as a political handicap, and the same is now true of the vocal minority obsessed with the Bilderberg Group, particularly those within the self-described Liberty Movement to which I belong.
The Bilderberg Group is an invite-only organization whose membership features some of the world's most powerful political players and world leaders. They meet annually in secret to discuss whatever it is that rich and powerful people discuss, leaving conspiracy theorists to run wild with speculation.
Of course, secret societies are nothing new in American politics. In fact, our leaders have always belonged to these groups. Many presidents, starting with George Washington, were Freemasons. Calvin Coolidge and George W. Bush were part of Yale's Skull and Bones society. In fact, some of the Liberty Movement's biggest champions have been Bilderberg members, like former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford. When I used to write about Sanford's heroic stance against federal stimulus dollars in 2009, conspiracy theorists would tell me, "But Jack, he's part of Bilderberg!" More recently, Bilderbirthers have targeted PayPal founder Peter Thiel, who donated $2.5 million to libertarian candidates and causes this year. But since Thiel is a member of the Bilderberg Group, conspiracy theorists wonder if these donations are actually a sign that Thiel is up to no good. Seriously.
Donating millions to the cause of liberty is good. Standing up to reckless federal spending is good. It's one thing to wonder if secret societies are doing bad things. It's quite another to accuse their members of doing bad things when they are obviously doing good things. Peter Thiel is a hero. He should be president of Bilderberg.
No doubt, secret groups like Bilderberg, the Aspen Institute, the Trilateral Commission, or the Council on Foreign Relations also meet regularly to discuss ideas or policies that ultimately screw the little guy — just as political elites do in Washington, D.C., where this is done regularly and often out in the open.
Sinister conspiracies happen every day on Capitol Hill, and they're committed by the rich and powerful at the expense of the American people. TARP, ObamaCare, NDAA — you name it. The handiwork of these cabals can be seen in newspaper headlines daily. Forget covert operations. Check out the Congressional Record.
But like the Birthers, Bilderberg conspiracy theorists have become a political handicap. The Birthers probably have a few interesting points to make, but this doesn't change the fact that their argument is toxic. It doesn't change the fact that their rhetoric damages conservatives' reputations every time a Birther opens his mouth.
When I hear someone mention "Bilderberg" these days, any adult conversation I'd planned on having with them is over. This is not to say that the Bilderberg Group itself is not curious. It is to say that such language is politically toxic. It is to say that mentioning them accomplishes nothing and hurts plenty. It is to ignore the problems that are happening in public all the time. Our debt, loss of liberty, perpetual war, and the emerging police state — these things should be discussed and debated on their own merits without Bilderberg ever being mentioned.
Most in the constitutional conservative or libertarian movements do not subscribe to conspiracy theories, just like most conventional right-wingers don't subscribe to Birtherism, but the small minority who do continue to embarrass and hinder everyone's efforts. Playing into our enemies' worst stereotypes is not an asset.
The Left is hell-bent on redistributing wealth. The neoconservatives are hell-bent on redistributing wealth overseas, and they really don't mind it so much at home either. Those of us who oppose these two have our work cut out for us. There is no need to remove ourselves from the national conversation by having insular conversations that no one else cares about, that make us look crazy, or that turn inroads into permanent roadblocks. Conspiracy theories can be fun to talk about, but for political movements, they can also be fatal.
Jack Hunter assisted Sen. Jim DeMint with his latest book, Now or Never: Saving America From Economic Collapse. He is also the official campaign blogger for GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, and he co-wrote Rand Paul's The Tea Party Goes to Washington. You can hear Southern Avenger commentaries on The Morning Buzz on 1250 WTMA.