37. He promotes dangerous conspiracy theories

The world has long been rife with conspiracy theories. A tiny handful of them are probably more or less accurate, while a greater but still small number have some kernel of reality at their core but are flawed to the point of being fundamentally unsound. And then there are the vast majority, which are utter nonsense—total fabrications invented by people with paranoid tendencies, an inability to reason, and a deep distrust of the evidence-based methods employed by scientists, historians, and other actual experts. Not so long ago, it was possible simply to laugh at such people and their bizarre but essentially harmless theories. What did it matter, after all, if a small group of crackpots believed that the moon landings were faked or that the Earth is shaped more like a pancake than a grapefruit? Now it’s impossible to laugh. Over the past decade or so, a growing number of thoroughly unsavory characters have formulated and disseminated conspiracy theories to further their darkly recessive, demonstrably dangerous agendas. Guess who’s the most notorious among this new breed of whack job? DT boarded the conspiracy train years ago. Now he’s taken over the locomotive and is running it full speed toward a rickety old bridge over deep, rushing water.

The conspiracy theories in the news in recent times are anything but harmless. Most are products of calculated disinformation campaigns designed to benefit Republicans. There was the Sandy Hook hoax theory, which claimed that the massacre of 26 small children and 20 adults in Connecticut never happened and was instead a ploy to enact gun control. At least one person who played a key role in spreading that theory held high positions in DT’s campaign and then the White House. Before that came the theory that President Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii. Like Sandy Hook, that theory was obviously false, a product of racists who just couldn’t bear the thought of a Black man legitimately being president. DT himself was one of its most vocal proponents.

The scariest theory of them all, perhaps, is known as QAnon. It holds that DT is fighting a secret war against a shadowy group of child-molesting Satan worshipers who of course just happen to include many of the most prominent Democratic politicians and donors. Despite the indisputable fact that the theory is 100% fabricated and sufficiently ludicrous to warrant only a face palm, it is reportedly gaining traction among some deeply disturbed, unhappy people on the far right, including a number of heavily armed militia members and white supremacists, a sizable number of law enforcement officers, and at least one leading Republican candidate for Congress. DT, well aware that his reelection campaign doesn’t stand a change without the delusional halfwit vote, has repeatedly declined to brand QAnon as false and has even retweeted messages from its adherents. To this president, conspiracy theories, like everything else, are purely transactional. It doesn’t matter to him that a theory is illogical, harmful, and patently false; if it’s likely to help him at the polls, he’ll embrace it.

The proliferation of conspiracy theories is one of the potential sparks in the powder keg known as the United States in 2020. It has contributed to the polarization of the American people, and it poses significant ongoing risks to public safety. In the short term, it is one of many factors threatening the integrity of the upcoming election. The only way to combat it effectively is to silence its most visible mouthpiece. We do that by voting DT out of office.

DT and the DS

What about the “Deep State”—that mysterious power structure that supposedly operates largely secretly and out of sight and is accountable only to itself? There is no evidence that any such thing exists as a single entity. There are any number of discrete entities outside of official government channels that work to influence public policy. Their tendrils frequently reach into government agencies; sometimes this is clandestine, sometimes not. The relationship between corporate lobbyists and government officials is a good example. While most of their interactions are perfectly legal, they are largely conducted out of public view and receive publicity only when someone, such as an investigative journalist, bothers to dig for it. And of course there are organizations, formal and informal, that work behind the scenes for outcomes contrary to official policy, and sometimes career public servants or elected officials collude with them.

As someone who favors transparency, I am usually opposed to such goings-on. In the case of DT’s administration, however, they could be performing functions that are deeply beneficial. A couple of years ago, there was much talk about “the adults in the room” who were supposedly standing ready to intervene should the president do something really outlandish. Well, guess what? They may have slowed down the train once or twice, but it’s still heading for that unsafe bridge and it’s anybody’s guess whether they’re willing or able to pull the emergency brake. It doesn’t help that the White House, the Department of Justice, and various other agencies have purged themselves of almost anyone with a backbone or a conscience. In other words, nearly all of the adults have left the room.


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