From rants about former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate to paranoid ramblings about the “Deep State,” to fact-free declarations about “illegal votes” costing him the popular vote in the 2016 election, President Donald Trump has publicly spouted conspiracy theories in a way that is unprecedented for an American president.
Russell Muirhead, a professor of government at Dartmouth, and Nancy Rosenblum, a professor of government at Harvard, have now written a new book on Trump’s embrace of conspiracy theories titled “A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy.”
In a review of the book in The New Yorker, staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert says the authors do an exception job of documenting just how strange it is to hear the most powerful person in the world talking like an InfoWars listener.
“Historically, Muirhead and Rosenblum maintain, it’s been out-of-power groups that have been drawn to tales of secret plots,” Kolbert writes. “Today, it’s those in power who insist the game is rigged, and no one more insistently than the so-called leader of the free world.”
Additionally, conspiracy theories have traditionally popped up to explain real-world events, such as JFK’s assassination or the 9/11 terror attacks. However, Trumpian conspiracy theories such as Pizzagate and QAnon are literally fiction that have no basis in reality whatsoever.
“There is often nothing to explain,” the professors argue. “The new conspiracism sometimes seems to arise out of thin air.”