A lot can be said, has been said, and will continue to be said about why Donald Trump won the United States presidential election in 2016. In Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party failed to nominate a candidate who could generate enough enthusiasm to garner support to push her past the deeply unpopular Trump, who at times during the campaign said things to make it seem like he quite possibly didn’t want to win at all. In fact, according to Real Clear Politics, just prior to the election, both Trump and Clinton were pulling unfavorability polling numbers hovering around ten points higher than their respective favorability ratings.
The election was largely decided on which candidate did a better job of scaring the voting public about the prospect of the other candidate leading the country. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were two incredibly flawed candidates almost singularly focused on capitalizing on the flaws of their opponent. Both, to be sure, had their share of devoted followers. Both could be described, to an extent, as leaders of personality cults, probably moreso the reality television billionaire Trump, whose patriotically-themed rallies seemed designed to hypnotize attendees, roping them in by their desires for a better country, but also by their fears of a country and a world that they deeply feel is heading down a dangerous path.
Only one of the two candidates was successful, Donald Trump. With the help of a steady barrage of WikiLeaks dumps, a curiously-timed, temporary reopening of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private Email server, and his own gang of media propagandists to counter the largely pro-Clinton propaganda spewed by so-called “liberal media” outlets like CNN, the Washington Post, and MSNBC, Trump managed to beat Hillary by a handful of votes in several key swing states and, despite losing the popular vote to Clinton by almost 3 million, he won a decisive electoral college victory.
SHOCKING! We've discovered a map of HELL!! pic.twitter.com/cGNKZJj2kM
— Alex Jones (@RealAlexJones) February 2, 2017
Chief among the media propagandists who helped Donald Trump achieve victory were conservative mainstay, Fox News, Breitbart, a website founded by deceased conservative writer, Andrew Breitbart and run by Trump’s right-hand man in the White House, Steve Bannon, and Infowars, a website and YouTube channel run by Alex Jones, whose paranoid brand of reporting consists of equal parts verifiable facts and conspiracy theory, often with the lines expertly blurred between what’s plainly true and what is mere slanted conjecture.
Alex Jones and Infowars represent a certain kind of paranoid vision of the world that is endemic on the American right. Instead of taking events at face value, analyzing them in terms of reality, Jones is intent on creating an overarching, totalizing narrative of world events in the service of a paranoid understanding that dark forces are at work in the world, always conspiring in devious ways to undermine “freedom,” “liberty,” and all that is true and virtuous. Take, for example, Jones’s contention that Lady Gaga’s Superbowl half-time performance would be a giant Satanic Ritual. According to Independent, Jones, in typically paranoiac fashion, told his followers to beware of watching the performance, as it was certain to be an indoctrination ritual for the “New World Order,” by which Jones is alluding to a dark cabal of globalist chaos merchants who want to destroy the American way of life in service of one world governance.
“They say she’s going to stand on top of the stadium, ruling over everyone with drones everywhere, surveilling everyone in a big swarm,” Jones said. “To just condition them to say ‘I am the Godess of Satan’ ruling over them with the rise of the robots in a ritual of lesser magic.”
This kind of paranoid fear-mongering plays perfectly into the narrative that Donald Trump and others on the right must push for their vision to thrive. The world must be viewed as a giant field of evil players, with only the strong, heroic, virtuous right-wing heroes willing to take a stand against the leftist menace that seeks to destroy America, Christianity, and all that is good. We see this play out on social media, with the constant stream of paranoia regarding “white genocide,” “cultural Marxism,” communism, and other theoretical right-wing boogeymen. And we see it on the Twitter account of Trump himself, where seeds of paranoia are planted by the Tweeter-in-chief himself.
Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election. Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 6, 2017
The danger in this is that people are being led to believe that anyone who has a different opinion than them, politically, are all part of a devious plot to undermine all of western civilization. Donald Trump, Alex Jones, and other peddlers of paranoid right-wing ideas are actively breeding people who prefer a paranoid vision of reality. It’s hard to argue that this will somehow result in making the world a better place.
— Alex Jones (@RealAlexJones) February 6, 2017
[Featured Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]