Being a ‘king’ of conspiracy theories, Trump and his office may use conspiracy theories as propaganda, consequently making it easy for manipulate and control those who are easy to convince that certain conspiracies are true.
The 2016 presidential election campaign was awash with slurs and scandals thrown at the opposition. “Hillary for Prison” was a popular slogan emblazoned on Republican merchandise. “The Clintons are murderers”, cried the conspiracy theorists, intent on using the conspiracy to manipulate the outcome of the election.
So ludicrous and far-fetched were many of the conspiracy theories which surfaced and circulated during the presidential campaign, that (2) Top Secret Writers wrote a report about the funniest conspiracies from the 2016 presidential election.
Plenty of Conspiracy Theories
From Trump rebelling against the Illuminati, to Trump being a Kremlin puppet, and, of course, those Clintons are murderers’ protests, there were certainly a lot of sensationalist fodder to keep the imagination of conspiracy theory believers in overdrive throughout the election campaign.
The (3) Washington Post wrote a similar entertaining article entitled “10 more conspiracy theories embraced by Donald Trump”. From President Obama didn’t attend Columbia University to vaccines are connected to childhood autism, Trump certainly succeeded in stirring up controversy during the 2016 elections.
Such seemingly far-fetched controversies and conspiracy theories may have been scorned at and brushed under the carpet had Trump lost the White House race. The only trouble is that Trump won, which says a lot about the mindset of the public and how they may be buying into the theories and controversy circulated by Trump and the right-wing media.
So prolific was this scandalizing, conspiracy theory tactic throughout Trump’s campaign to be elected president, the new president-elect has been accused of making the paranoid style of American politics go mainstream.
By making this conspiracy/paranoid style of politics mainstream, Trump and his administration could prove to be dangerous, particularly for those who are less critically-minded and have a tendency to believe most conspiracy theories are true.
As (4) Mother Jones notes in a feature about “How Donald Trump Became Conspiracy Theorist in Chief”:
“Trump has floated so many conspiracy theories that he’s developed his own rhetorical flourish to reinforce them.”
So how can the spread of conspiracy theories to a public willing to lap them up be dangerous?
Historically, there has been examples of the circulation of conspiracy theories for deliberate political manipulation and gain.
One example of this is known as Operation Infektion. Operation Infektion was a disinformation campaign launched by the KGB, which involved spreading the rumor that the United States invented AIDS and HIV as part of a research project involving biological weapons at Fort Detrick in Maryland.
As the (5) CIA writes, intelligence practices differed significantly between East and West during the Cold War. While the West were most commonly involved in gathering information, the East “placed much greater emphasis on deception operations to influence opinions or actions of individuals and governments.”
Operation Infektion is believed to have been an attempt by the KGB to undermine the credibility of the US, to isolate America overseas, to nurture anti-Americanism, and to create tensions between other countries and the US. Analysts from the US State Department also believe that the Soviet Union launched Operation Infektion as a means of attempting to “Distract international attention away from its own offensive biological warfare program, which [was monitored] for decades.”
The rise of Trump, the so-called conspiracy theory in chief, cited as making the paranoid style of American politics go mainstream, could therefore be dangerous. As we saw in the presidential election 2016, people are buying into Trump’s conspiracy theory peddling tactics and could therefore potentially make it easy for intelligence agencies and foreign governments to manipulate and control not only Trumps own positions as Commander in Chief, but even American public opinion.