October 14th, 2020 at 10:04 pm EDT
In early 2016, Trump was more than an underdog. The center and left media just couldn’t believe he or his allies had much power at all. Viewership, readership, listenership — it all had to be exaggerated, because the words that frothed from these famous mouths were so absurd that few Americans if any would take the ideas seriously. Surely, these “supporters” were just along for the ride, readying themselves to jump before actually voting.
They must want someone in office who doesn’t traffic in conspiracy theories. No way, they would elect someone who would even fraternize with these admitted-under-oath “entertainers,” who recognize, of course, that they exaggerate and lie to get rises out of people.
Alex Jones was one such entertainer. In 2019, he was sued by the parents of students mowed down in a kindergarten classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary, for calling them and their dead children fakes on national radio. In his 2017 divorce proceedings, confronted with the irresponsibility and outrageous of those and other claims, Jones’ lawyers advanced a defense claiming that what Jones says on-air is not to be taken seriously. Of course his listeners know he’s lying, the defense argued.
But listeners very much did and do not. They sent hate mail and death threats to the Sandy Hook families who had lost 4-year-olds at a murder scene too graphic to bear imagining, let alone witnessing. As Cory Booker said this week at the Amy Coney Barret hearings, “This is not normal.”
Get ready, America: we’re about to witness a couple cornered and protecting its own.
In a radio interview with Jones, Trump called him a man with “an amazing reputation.” So when Jones started advancing his conspiracy theory that — hold on… I need a second — that Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton were demons who smelled of sulfur, provable by how many flies landed on them, Trump-world listened.
“There are dozens of videos and photos of Obama having flies land on him, indoors, at all times of year, and he’ll be next to a hundred people and no one has flies on them,” Jones told his listeners, without linking any videos, because no such videos exist.
“I’m told her [Clinton] and Obama just stink, stink, stink, stink. You can’t wash that evil off, man. I’m told there’s a rotten smell around Hillary. I’m not kidding.”
News spread. Obama himself joked about the idea, smelling himself on national television to confirm that he is in fact a homosapien.
So it’s odd, as we count the days since the vice presidential debate, that there isn’t any right-wing buzz about the fly that, during the vice presidential debate, landed on Mike Pence, and stayed on Mike Pence.
Maya Rudolph, playing Kamala Harris on SNL, sprayed Lysol as she entered the show’s mock debate stage, keeping corona at bay and perhaps any sulfur, too.
Where are the conspiracy theories about Pence and New World Orders? Isn’t it interesting that most of the conspiracy theories in America are from the right, demonizing the left? What is this underlying mechanism that stops these ideas from scaling liberal minds and reproducing?
I once wrote on TIS that there exists a vaccine for conspiracy theories, a single question to ask oneself or another: “How many people would have to be ‘in on it’?”
I cited Alex Jones’ Sandy Hook massacre accusation as an example of this question’s effectiveness in play. It destroys the idea, quickly, that it would be possible to stage a mass murder of kindergarten students, with local police, feds, local neighborhoods, an entire school district, local news, national news, morgues, etc. all “in on it.”
I admit, though, the vaccine just doesn’t work when we astrally project our ideas into the supernatural realm: “How many people would have to be ‘in’ on a major political figure being a demon?”
The vaccine doesn’t work, that is, if you believe in demons. I just… I just can’t shake the feeling that these theories always seem to be about figures on the left, like a Holmesian crime scene waiting to be forensically examined.
Clinton, a fly… Demon. Pence, a fly… Bad luck.
There’s some common denominator, here. I’m sure of it. Admittedly, there was at least one voice on the right who told MSNBC that, with the fly, Pence had been marked as the devil, Republican and purported Christian or not.
So that’s one.
You see, consistency doesn’t really matter in love. Trump’s supporters are in love with the man. During the Walter Reed joyride, one supporter interviewed, with ease said, “I’d die for that man.”
These are the thoughts of abused spouses. Trump can call a virus a hoax, then insist it’s real but would be gone by summer, then say it’s flu-like and not that big of a deal, then get the disease himself, then suffer at its hands so badly he’s hospitalized, and his loving base would still “die for him.”
And that sequence was just what was reported in the Fox News bubble. Don’t forget that he’s on tape with Bob Woodward admitting that he lied to everyone, for months, knowing more Americans would die at the hands of his lie than if he told the truth. “This is deadly stuff,” he said in February. And don’t forget that as of the time of writing, well over 200,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, and that the astronomical total is likely an undercount.
Psychologists have called the kind of Orwellian doublethink Trump supporters peddle cult-like. I think it’s beyond that. It’s something altogether new in politics but infinite and oh-so-common. Most humans have felt it before: it’s just love. A huge, smoochy crush.
You see, consistency doesn’t really matter in love. Trump’s supporters are in love with the man.
Pence, attached to Trump at the hip and therefore loved by association, could have 50 flies land on his face in the shape of three sixes, and lovers will say it was Kamala who enchanted the flies in a hex. Red smoke could billow from Pence’s lips, and fans would say Kamala had a secret smoke machine somewhere.
The questions Americans must ask themselves as they approach November 3rd, we already have answers to. Punditry thinks that this behavior on the far right is altogether unresearched, so new, that there is no precedent to look to.
Of course there is. Here, everything we’ve ever seen about a lover protecting another lover is worthy of tabulation. The crimes. The lust. The deception. The lies. The anger. The steamy in-group bias.
Get ready, America: we’re about to witness a couple cornered and protecting its own. We know exactly the range of outcomes to expect, and none are angelic.
There is little actual doublethink among modern American political parties. The pride each citizen takes in their logically-chosen party has little variation and is largely healthy and without hypocrisy.
Doublethink and in-group bias are signifiers for a spectrum of love, and about the president, we are seeing total adulation from the far right. What we know about love, from Stockholm Syndrome to The Notebook, we may use confidently as predictors of what’s to come.