Remember back in the early 2010s, when Obamacare was launched, and the associated conspiracy theories about it promoted by deranged wingnuts? One of the more popular ones was the idea that the health care law had a “death panel” clause; in one popular version, it was even specified that according to the law, all Americans had to appear before the panel when they turned 74. Despite being obviously ridiculous, that particular conspiracy theory made its rounds among Qanon-receptive circles for a while back in 2012 before eventually being replaced by other, equally ridiculous nonsense.
Well, the idea didn’t completely die. Bill Akins, then secretary of the Republican Executive Committee of Pasco County, Florida, pulled it back out at a 2017 townhall meeting. “Here’s the problem I have with the Affordable Health Care Act,” said Akins: “Number one, there is a provision in there that anyone over the age of 74 has to go before what is effectively a death panel.” And when audiences started booing, Akins desperately tried to prove his point by repeating his assertion: “They do,” and, “It’s in there, folks, you’re wrong.” It is, of course, not in there, and by 2017 people tended to be aware of that.
Akins subsequently resigned, but that seems to be mostly because his Facebook posts turned out to contain a rather impressive selection of racist memes and fake news stories, including a couple of familiar and predictable ones:
- that former President Barack Obama was a foreign-born Muslim
- several spins on the Clinton body count conspiracy theories (Bill and Hillary Clinton had potential trial witnesses against them murdered)
- that former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia might have been murdered
- that “Climate Change” is a globalist hoax
Upon resigning, Akins emphasized that he didn’t admit to being wrong, however – rather he resigned, according to himself, to be free from the Republican party’s oppressive loyalty oaths.
Diagnosis: Yes, this is old news, and Akins is hopefully out for good. But just as old conspiracy theories are apparently never forgotten, we aren’t forgetting Bill Akins, even if even crazier wingnuts are endorsing even more ridiculous conspiracy theories at present.