Us-Versus-Them Politics

Posted on November 2, 2019


Why are conspiracy theories so prevalent now? One reason is today’s us-versus-them politics. Another may be the desire to impose a narrative on events people find inexplicable and threatening.

Conspiracy theories have been intertwined with American politics since 1776, perhaps earlier. But today they may be at the center of national public life more than ever in modern times.

Take President Donald Trump’s pressure on Ukraine. It was partly inspired by a discredited tale involving the Democratic National Committee, a cyber firm named CrowdStrike, and server spirited to Ukraine allegedly to hide the fact that Russia did hack the 2016 U.S. election.

Prior to that citizen Donald Trump got his political start pushing the discredited “birther” theory that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and thus ineligible for office. “Growing up no one knew him.” Mr. Trump said falsely in a 2011 interview. “The whole thing is very strange.”

The left can think conspiratorially, too. Democratic Twitter “experts” who feverishly  connected dots to prove that President Trump is Vladimir Putin’s paid agent can attract hundreds of thousands of followers.

Earlier last month Hillary Clinton said Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard is being “groomed” by Republicans for a third party run in 2020. Ms Clinton also called U.S. Representative Gabbard “a favorite of the Russians,” spawning a wave of social media conspiracy theories.

Why are conspiracy theories so prevalent now? One reason may be today’s us-versus-them polarized political era. When the other side is deemed a villian, conspiracy theories are easier to accept. Maybe they don’t seem quite as outlandish as they otherwise might.

We should seek the truth rather relying on conspiracy theories.

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