As I’ve mentioned before, conspiracy theories are a way to explain why things are going wrong. Why did New England turn against state-supported churches? The Bavarian Illuminati! Why were blacks demanding equality? Communist agitators! Or the endless claims that Bill Clinton, the guy many right-wing voters blamed for stealing the presidency after 12 years of rightful Republican rule, was a murderer, drug-runner, etc.; that didn’t really explain him getting the presidency, but it did make people feel better about resenting it.
No More Mr. Nice Blog pointed out recently (I don’t have the link) that this makes sense when right-wingers are losing, but why are there so many ridiculous conspiracies when they’re winning? Their candidate won. Repubs control both houses of Congress. They’re poised to swing the Supreme Court sharply to the right, they’re ripping government regulations to sheds (even at the cost of human life) and massively deporting immigrants. The Justice Department is actively throwing its weight behind Christian religious freedom (as opposed to religious freedom in general). White supremacists are openly supporting the idea America should be whites only.
One reason is probably that the Internet just makes it easier for people to spread these theories and promote them, as does the whole right-wing media machine (like Rush Limbaugh explaining the Iraq War wasn’t President Bush’s fault, it’s the work of the deep state). It’s also much easier for nonbelievers to notice them than whey you had to pick up a pamphlet of paranoia by physically walking into a John Birch Society bookstore.
But like NMMNB I think there’s more to it than that. Quite simply, despite all their success, it doesn’t feel like they’re winning.Nonwhite people are still around. Women are still walking around being independent and having jobs and thinking they’re as good as men. Gay people can still get married. Women are having sex without consequences. Democrats win elections. Trump isn’t crushing all opposition. And people are still criticizing conservatives and being uncivil to them. Key Trump associates are getting charged with crimes. How is it possible they haven’t defeated us completely?
And so we get elaborate theories like QAnon, which explain that Trump is really winning, and Mueller is actually working against the Clinton Satanic pedophile ring. We don’t see it because it’s part of Trump’s 11-dimensional chess strategy. Trump is a dynamic, manly guy who can crush liberals physically like they were ants. The Left are really Trump’s puppets (“If the left exists only to oppose anything that Trump does or says, then isn’t Trump in control of the left’s message?”). All a desperate rationalization of how they’re really in charge and Trump is totally in control. And they still have the moral high ground no matter what liberals say. So choosing to believe makes logical sense.
Is there a way to snap them out of it? I wish I could think of one.