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Conspiracy tactics of 1950s GOP has resurfaced in present day Republican politics

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Courtesy of University of Chicago Press

Many conspiracy theories in the far-right political platform are not new. Several old conspiracy theories first presented by The John Birch Society in the 1950s have resurfaced in the last few years.

The John Birch Society was founded in 1958 by Robert Welch, who was known as a businessman, political organizer and conspiracy theorist. One conspiracy theory the society presented claimed that President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a communist. They also believed that Chief Justice Earl Warren should be impeached for ending prayer and segregation in school. Similar talking points have been repurposed in recent political discourse.

Popularity of the John Birch Society waned in the latter half of the 20th century. Today, the society itself and its beliefs are growing. North Texas is the center of its resurgence. Welch’s legacy continues to live on in modern day conservatism.

What is the John Birch Society? Who was founder Robert Welch? What can we learn today from the history of the John Birch Society? Is Texas the central hub for the society’s resurgence? How effective was Robert Welch at swaying American Politics? What methods did Robert Welch use to sway American Politics?

Guests:

  • Edward “Ted” Miller, Ph.D., teaching professor at Northeastern University, and author of “A Conspiratorial Life: Robert Welch, the John Birch Society, and the Revolution of American Conservatism”
  • Steven Monacelli, Dallas based investigative journalist, publisher of Protean Magazine, a nonprofit literary publication.

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview was recorded on Tuesday, August 2.

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