If Donald Trump doesn’t make it all the way through the ridiculously long American election path to the White House, what on earth are politics journalists going to write about? Here’s the latest non-story from the Washington Post, concerning the Donald’s supposed new conspiracy theory:
One fascinating recent discovery in political science research is that partisans increasingly believe in conspiracy theories when their party is out of office. Seven years into the Obama administration, some researchers say that pattern can help explain why Donald Trump is so popular.
In the Republican debate Thursday night, Trump invoked a new conspiracy theory using just eight syllables, the kind of phrasing that can flame anxieties without actually saying anything specific.
“There’s something going on, and it’s bad,” Trump said.
Trump has used the same phrase repeatedly during the campaign. “There’s something going on with him that we don’t know about,” he recently said of Obama. “There’s something going on in the mosques,” he told an audience in Myrtle Beach, S.C. in November. “There’s definitely something going on,” he said again a few days later, when asked about Islam.
Trump never quite says exactly what he thinks might be going on, though. He doesn’t need to. The key is to raise suspicion.
“Trump is using the fact that, psychologically, humans are, in the face of these kinds of harrowing events, looking for explanations that satisfy our deep needs for order, certainty and control of the world around us,” Colorado State University’s Kyle Saunders, who has studied conspiracy theories, wrote in an email. “Trump is, for those who buy into his explanation, reducing fear and anxiety about the uncertainty of the world–and, to me, this explains much of Trump’s recent ascent.”…
[continues at the Washington Post]