Kevin Velez, Campus Carrier asst. arts and living editor
The seeds of doubt against government institutions have been planted into the political landscape of the United States. Conspiracy theories have only fertilized the doubt shared by many Americans towards the institutions of medicine, science and fundamental democratic elections. Forbes contributor, Peter Suciu, finds the root for these conspiracy theories in the spread of misinformation through alternative news outlets and social media in his article “Conspiracy Theories Have Gained Traction Since 9/11 Thanks to Social Media”.
Traditionally, conspiracy theories gain little support from politicians; however, the tables turned during the 2016 Presidential election, Anne Applebaum from The Washington Post acknowledged Trump’s use of conspiracy theories in her 2016 article “Donald Trump’s Campaign of Conspiracy Theories”. During his campaign, Donald Trump spoke often about a potential rigging of the election that would result in his loss, and his fight against “fake news”.
“I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters and to all of the people of the United States that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election, if I win,” Trump said at a rally in Delaware, Ohio, on October 20th, 2016.
Trump continuously spoke often of a network of elitists that control certain institutions with a dark agenda, known as the “deep state”. During the Trump administration, a National Press Release poll indicated that one in three Americans believed in a “deep state” undermining Trump.
Four years later, the 2020 Presidential Election saw the application of voting fraud claims made again by President Trump after his defeat by current President Joe Biden. In the wake of his loss, Trump brought his appeals to the American justice system but failed to have his appeals met with any significant outcome according to Business Insider writers, Jacob Shamsian and Sonam Sheth.
Between election night and early January 2021, just weeks before Biden would be inaugurated, Trump held the “Save America March” on January 6th, 2021 in front of the White House while Congress, along with Vice President Mike Pence, certificated the election Trump declared fraudulent. In the speech Trump gave at the rally, he commented on his beliefs that the Democratic party would fail to uphold the election and urged his supporters to give Republican representatives boldness and strength and walk to the Capitol building, Reuters reported on the same day. In his speech, Trump said
“We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and Congressmen and women”.
The result of the “Save America March” was the deadly insurrection of the U.S. Capitol later that day.
Michael Bailey, associate professor of political science at Berry, explains conspiracy theories in America are a growing phenomenon. Bailey states that modern conspiracy theories are not for the enlightenment of people but rather to delegitimize the sources relied on by millions to make political or personnel decisions. Bailey says groups like QAnon begin at conclusions and later track evidence to shed doubt into institutions regarding science and politics. Under Bailey’s observations of modern conspiracies againist the media and scientists,
“Nothing can be trusted except for these anonymous sources or Donald Trump”.
The conspiracy theories that sparked the Capitol riot and led to some Republican senators to vote against the election certification have seemingly become represented by Congresswomen Marjorie Greene Taylor. The Congresswomen was recently elected and now represents Georgia’s 14th congressional district, of which Floyd county is included.
The Congresswoman has previously given light to conspiracy theories on Facebook and other social media sites regarding pre-staged school shootings, 9-11 falsehoods and a theory that the Clinton family was responsible for the plane crash that killed John F. Kennedy Jr in 1999. During her congressional campaign, Greene faced backlash for supporting QAnon on social media as well. Greene is currently facing potential censorship and a bill in the House to have her expelled, according to The Intelligencer.
Bailey explains he believes, Greene’s actions have violated her oath office and that she fails to represent her party and constituents. Bailey continues to mention how the conspiracy theories promoted by the Republican party are detrimental to the American political system and that,
“We don’t have a system, presently, to allow self-correction and allow redirection,” Bailey said.
“The impeachment trials provided the Republicans an opportunity to shorn themselves from this lying demigod and reestablish their commitments.”
Bailey says partisanship will recorrect the system if or when Republicans start to lose their Senate and House seats. Bailey concludes that he has strong pessimistic views on the current political landscape and system America is facing and that,
“I think we are in a very bad place right now,” Bailey said. “I don’t see an easy correction, short of the American people demanding facts, demanding truth, but that’s not happening. Too many people are taking their truth to make them feel okay to hate their opponents.”
Despite speculation, it is unknown how America will rebound from a political landscape harvested in conspiracy theories and how these theories will continue to linger.