Pity Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN), who committed the ultimate political blunder — he said what he thought.
Peterson had been quoted in an online story about conspiracy theorists, saying "25 percent of my people believe the Pentagon and Rumsfeld were responsible for taking the twin towers down. That's why I don't do town meetings."
Now, I think that Peterson is exaggerating when he suggests that 25% of his constituents are conspiracy theorists. However, he's probably on the money when he suggests that 25% of the people who would want to spend their time at one of his town meetings are conspiracy theorists. And that's a lowball figure. Bear in mind we live in this nation:
Overall, 44 percent of the respondents said they believe in ghosts, 36 percent say UFOs are real while 31 percent believe in both witches and astrology. About a quarter believe in reincarnation, or "that you were once another person," the survey found.
It would be interesting to see if the Truthers are more or less likely to believe in UFOs.
But back to Rep. Peterson. His regrettable honesty raises a question central to our federal republic: do we want our politicians to govern based on what they think is right, or based on what a cognizable percentage of their constituents think is right? To paraphrase Senator Huska, do crazy people deserve representation too? Back in the 1990s, they heyday of militia-promoted conspiracy theories, Idaho Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth famously urged investigation of black helicopters on the grounds that a number of her constituents believed in them. Was she right?
If she is, and we govern that way, someday the Truthers and the UFO-believers are going to form a coalition government. That should be entertaining.
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