Applied Conspiracism: Giving a Name to Trump’s Amorphous Political Philosophy

Conspiracism: The belief that major historical and political events are brought about as the result of a conspiracy between interested parties, or are manipulated by or on behalf of an unknown group of influential people; belief in or advocacy of conspiracy theories.Oxford Living Dictionary

Trump’s conspiracism deserves its own term.

First, there is the breadth of Trump’s conspiracism. Unlike many conpiracists, Trump does not limit himself to just one or two conspiracy theories. Virtually everything is best explained (or explained away) as the result of conspiracy: global warming, foreign competition, positive job numbers under Obama, the Battle for Mosul before he took it over, Obama’s birth and presidency, Ted Cruz’ father, the Deep State, etc. (Caveat: when he’s feeling charitable, Trump will use the explanation of stupid leadership, as in bad trade deals or bad military strategy).

As an “ecumenical” conspiratorial thinker, Trump is able to deploy any and all possible conspiracy theories as the situation demands; and of course invent new ones. This makes Trump’s brand of conspiracism much more flexible and practicable on a day-to-day basis when handling the various problems of campaigning and governing.

Amorphous conspiracism also allows Trump to publicly communicate with his fellow conspiracists semi-surreptitiously through hints and omissions of condemnation, such as republishing conspiratorial propaganda and then excusing it as a mistake, an oversight. The message to fellow conspiracists is: I’m with you, and my tepid public retractions are just a front to appease people not yet enlightened by conspiracism.

Most importantly, Trump’s brand of conspiricism is centered around the unspoken credo that fighting the vast conspiratorial forces of the world requires that one engage in counter-conspiracies, even if that means colluding with openly hostile foreign powers like Russia.

Trump’s conspiratorial political philosophy and conspiratorial political practice thus requires its own new, huge, fabulous term. Amorphous conspiracism? Ecumenical or universalist conspiracism?

“Applied conspiracism” is advantaged over these other terms for several reasons: Trump used conspiracism to win the Republican nomination and the presidency; Trump is now positioned to act on his conspiratorial beliefs; the President shows no sign of being any less conspiratorial than he was when he was an outsider candidate; and lastly, because it’s becoming more and more apparent that Trump and his team conspired with internet trolls, white racists, and hostile foreign powers in their campaign to gain power.

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