John Oliver had a good theory about Trump’s conspiracy theories. He treats conspiracy theories like adult children. He launches them into the world and then takes no responsibility for them. That is why some now call him the “Conspiracy theorist-in-Chief.” Whether they are true or not is unimportant. What matters is whether or not Trump thinks they will help him. Everything else is irrelevant.
This is all part of Trump’s complete disregard for truth. He does not only lie. He does plenty of that, but he also just does not care about whether or not statements he makes are true. He just cares about whether or not those statements help his cause. And often he thinks conspiracy theories might help his cause, because they have done so in the past. For example, conspiracy theories helped him to get elected in 2016 and any theory that might help him get re-elected in 2020 is fine with him.
A Conservative radio talk show host, listened to by millions, understood Trump better than most. He pointed out how clever Trump was in re-tweeting messages without saying he agreed with them. As Rush Limbaugh said,
“Trump is just pouring gas onto a fire and having fun watching the flames.” The problem of course, is that those flames can hurt people. As John Oliver said, “but during a pandemic is a very bad time to throw gasoline onto a fire because people are going to get burned, making those flames not quite as much fun to watch, because make no mistake here, people who have been convinced that Covid-19 was overblown have sometimes paid a steep price.”
Lately he has passed on a weird conspiracy theory—without evidence of course—that Obama and Biden faked the death of Osama bin Laden and then arranged for the American soldiers who helped fake it to be killed to hide the truth. Once again, I am sure many Americans believe it. Only because they want to believe it.
One could easily multiply the statements. As Fareed Zakaria pointed out, “Trump’s conspiracy theories resonate deeply with his voters, and that is the most troubling aspect of this story.” That is a very important point. The American people–or a least a very large portion of them–not only live in Fantasyland. They want to be there. That is where they feel most at home. Those people will keep voting for such leaders. I don’t think there is anything anybody can do about it either. Even if Trump is defeated in this upcoming election they will believe the next person who uses the same approach. Think of that.
The defeat of Trump, if it happens, won’t resuscitate truth. It won’t be reborn any time soon. We are in trouble. Maybe we are doomed.