Conspiracy Theories and Elections

 

end of world Latestly.com

The drumbeat of conspiracy theories picks up whenever America gets close to an election. I have said this before, but I really want to call attention to this tendency. I want to know if it has repercussions in terms of who gets elected. How much do these “myths” and the hype around them influence votes?

In 2016 Conspiracy Theories were used to help demonize Hillary Clinton.

 

Hillary demonized

snowflakes-demons-and-democrats

Now an anonymous internet figure called by the quirkiest letter in our alphabet, Q, is appearing all over the internet and at Trump rallies. It does not supplant the old conspiracies which claim the 13 families and Democrats including the Clintons are all pedophiles, child traffickers, and even have demonic ceremonies sacrificing babies (which, I guess, is one step further than kidnapping children and putting them in cages with only a metallic space blanket to comfort them). Rather it suggests that Trump is the chosen one to rescue the world from these sickos. (Yikes!) Trump, according to this view, is actually one of those superheroes who presents a face to the real world that belies his role as a rescuer. Good disguise!

In 2018 Conspiracy Theories are being used to demonize all Democrats and to lionize Trump

Democrats demonized you tube

Trump as superhero funnyjunk.com

I don’t know about you, but for me this is a bit of a reach (this is an understatement) . I do not see the resemblance between Trump and any heroes, from comics or real life.

But I am curious about how well these Conspiracy Theories work as propaganda. Clearly they attract followers. Does this translate into votes for one group; against another; or both? A study of this effect would be very interesting.

Also see: https://www.thearmchairobserver.com/the-big-conspiracy-theory-that-explains-everything/

Photo credits: latently.com, You Tube, capitolhilloutsider.com, You Tube, You Tube

Normalizing By Default

normalizing trump big media matters

In the early days of the Trump administration it was seemed impossible to accept that this crass guy who had assaulted women, who had perhaps done business with mafias, or laundered money that was somehow dirty could actually be our President. In all certainty there would be some kind of intervention. If we poured out into the streets and shouted our discontent someone would hear us? If Trump got tangled up with the courts and was found guilty of all his sins that would be the end of his presidency? Suppose it was discovered that he had somehow sent his loyal henchmen off to Russia to get help from Putin with the 2016 election? Would that be bad enough to convince Congress to impeach him? Would the Republicans finally turn against him because he does not have the character to be the President of the United States or even because he wasn’t helping them get enough done? Would he have a breakdown and be hauled off in a strait jacket drooling? Did we ever think that we would end up normalizing by default?

Well it has been many months, days, and weeks. We have watched this man overturn hard-won protections in the form of regulations placed on businesses to prevent them from getting too rapacious, and laws designed to finally end problems like acid rain and toxic smog, toxic waste dumps, dependence on fossil fuels, toss out rules that acted as safeguards for risky banking practices that hurt consumers and home buyers. We have watched him lash out morning after morning on Twitter, calling those who disagree with him ridiculous made-up names, which is a tactic that should not work but somehow does. We have watched him tweet out policy that comes straight from the mouths of talking heads on Fox News. We have endured seeing him strut like a peacock when he “wins” and throw hissy fits when he loses. His behavior reminds me of some kings who did not have the maturity to be good kings; kings who thought only of themselves and let their subjects fend for themselves, or actively made their lives worse.

Here is a man who greatest accomplishments as president so far involve overturning the thoughtful laws of the last American President. He may want us to think that he does this because these laws are bad for business or because it is what the Republicans want, but it could just as easily be the act of a racist who wants America to be a white, Christian nation (as he seems to think it was intended to be). Of course we know and he must know that unless his peeps use all those guns they are stockpiling to wipe anyone with pigmented skin off the face of the earth, that whiteness is not going to “win”. Our planet is too small and getting smaller every day. We might, instead, begin to think that the Republican Party is the root of all evil and that America would be far better off without them.

Here is a man whose second greatest accomplishment was to allow Congress to pass tax cuts that are supposed to set up we the people to lose our benefits. The current tax cut law creates a huge deficit. Then Congress tried this very week to pass a “balanced budget’ amendment which so far failed (John Katko, my Representative voted yes to this). If you make a budget that racks up debt and pass a spending plan that adds even more debt, and then you tell voters that the budget must, according to law, be balanced, next thing you know the GOP, by the grace of Trump, is finally rid of all those pesky safety net programs that supposedly don’t work and that are weighing the country down (Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, SNAP, SSD and more). These benefits may seem unnecessary if you are a billionaire, but not if you are a blind person, or you have a bad back, or you paid into a program because someone promised you that when you were old you would at least not be destitute.

Here is a man who has been under investigation by a special prosecutor almost since he took office, who has lied to the American people and the world so many times and so shamelessly that our heads are spinning. We didn’t think someone who was our president would lie so blatantly or that he would be so obvious about it, all the while insisting that it was not happening. It is very possible, considering all of the shady leaks, meetings, chance encounters that we have learned were “innocently” and accidentally blundered into between Donald’s campaign and Russia, or Russian people, that things Russia did actually may have affected the outcome of the 2016 election. And yet everyone assures 45 that they are not trying to say the election was invalid. (All the while wishing that would happen.)

And here is a man who exhibits almost every behavior “rulers”, elected, or otherwise, manifest when they have an authoritarian bent and hope to change a democracy into a dictatorship. We know that it is not a good thing when your country’s leader goes to war with any media outlet or person that speaks against him. We know that in an authoritarian state the government gets control of the media so that the news always favors the leader. If we get to the point where we are jailing journalists for “negative” reporting then we will know for sure that we are in danger. Right now the preferred method seems to be a sort of business model that just buys out media, weakened by the internet, and tucks them under the Conservative umbrella. Could we lose our fair and balanced media in this way? Could we lose our opposition media this way? It is already happening.

Here also is a man who would rather rule by caveat then go, hat in hand, to Congress  and use the structures our forefathers designed in our Constitution. The excuse here is that Obama used executive actions, but data proves that no President has ever been as obstructed as Obama was in his two terms. This president’s party owns all three branches of our government. What is really going on is much more sinister. Authoritarian guys somehow always find a government’s existing Constitution needs to be rewritten. If we get there will we finally know we’re in real trouble? Will it be too late?

So we have been told that impeachment is not a possibility and considering the current makeup of Congress that is right. And we have been told that Trump’s health is excellent and that he is does not have dementia so the 25thAmendment is unlikely to help. We got excited about the emoluments clause for a brief minute but it has no teeth. We hold out hope that Mueller will take Trump out, but we are told that even if we can prove actual treason by Trump he could still stay in office. We see that no one except a few loyal old cronies can even stand to work with Trump, which would certainly feed right into the modus operandiof any authoritarian dictator anywhere. If everyone in the government quits that would probably make Trump quite happy. We are even hoping that somehow a prostitute may be able to rid us of a problematic president. Then, in the next breath we are told that none of these things will work, especially given the Republican party’s willingness to use their majority status in Congress to back up a president who flaunts every rule that America once adhered to. In addition, an authoritarian leader also only likes the judges and courts who will give any of his actions legal status. Sound familiar?

Apparently a bad, terrible, very awful president gets normalized by default, because none of the safeguards we thought we had have any power at all, unless we agree that they do. We are not all in agreement. Yes, the Rasmussen poll gave Trump a 50% approval rating recently, but the Rasmussen poll is known to be skewed to the right. Check out the poll information in these two articles which compare the results of competing polls and compare Trump’s popularity to our most well-known presidents.

The following article contains interesting interactive graphics which lose their value if transferred as a static chart. This article is also very recent.

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/

http://news.gallup.com/poll/203198/presidential-approval-ratings-donald-trump.aspx

It’s a conundrum such as America has never faced before. Getting rid of the president might destroy so much of American law and tradition that it could mean the demise of our current system. Not getting rid of a president who seems to favor authoritarian ways could also mean the demise of our democracy and years under a figure who inspires no pride or trust in we the people. Our hopes are relying on pathways that are in danger of disappearing altogether. Our lives will go on but it is hard to know how depressing our lives might become.

https://www.thenation.com/article/how-trump-has-normalized-the-unspeakable/

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/01/we-havent-normalized-trump-weve-just-gotten-used-to-him-that-may-be-worse.html

Eugene Robinson on normal. Pinterest big

 

Conspiracy Theory and Political Identity

Paranoid Android

One of my news feeds on one of my devices brought this very interesting new article summarizing her polls about the correlations between conspiracy theory and political identity by Kathy Frankovic to my attention. My source tells us that she “is one of the world’s leading experts in public opinion polling. She has been an election and polling consultant for CBS News and other research organizations.” Find the full article at

https://today.yougov.com/news/2016/12/27/belief-conspiracies-largely-depends-political-iden/

These graphs, for the most part, back up what many of us already thought was true – that many of the conspiracy theories circulating right now are subscribed to by more voters on the right than on the left.  Empirical data is usually satisfying in offering backup for what we believe, unless, and in this case, you are from the right and you dismiss this all as counterfactual because it probably just comes from the left. What crazy times we live in? I did not foresee that the Fox News/ Talk Radio folks would lie so often that truths would seem to be mutable elements. Those on the right would say that I only like this data because it validates my worldview and that I am, once again, deluded. But I think history will be on my side in the end, for what that’s worth.

Belief in conspiracies largely depends on political identity

 

 

 

These polls shocked the media last week when they saw that 46% of Trump voters still believed that Clinton emails linked her to a pedophilia and child trafficking ring. What puzzles me is why the media was so surprised.