Propaganda has made a comeback in the United States in the advent of the Internet. Partially to blame is the internet itself, which provides the ability for illegitimate, uneducated wanna-be journalists to present information in an extremely biased nature, changing the facts slightly to make the outcome seem more insidious. We are living in a golden age of propaganda in the United States and it is unfortunately that a large quantity, in at least the 10’s of millions of people, have fallen prey to it. Trump has risen to power through it, with pushing fake facts that Obama was born in Kenya, which gained him fame and notoriety in the political arena. A case can be made that this notoriety and popularity led him to eventually feel capable of legitimately running for President, due to a large swathe of support on his Twitter account that numbered in the millions.
Another item that has been coming up a lot lately is the term gaslighting. Gaslighting can be defined as a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.
Today we see a combined effort of pushing conspiracy theories, propaganda and gaslighting by the Trump administration on an unprecedented level. In the book “Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes:” Jacques Ellul wrote the following:
“Direct propaganda, aimed at modifying opinions and attitudes, must be preceded by propaganda that is sociological in character, slow, general, seeking to create a climate, an atmosphere of favorable preliminary attitudes. No direct propaganda can be effective without pre-propaganda, which, without direct or noticeable aggression, is limited to creating ambiguities, reducing prejudices, and spreading images, apparently without purpose.”
Trump and the alt right, tea party and like minded folks have set up the pre-propaganda over the course of years, initially getting support with pushing a conspiracy theory about Barack Obama, this allowed him to push more conspiracy theories as a way to relieve pressure was on him in the White House. Often what he will present as defense of a situation he has put himself in, is a defense already presented by fervent supporters on Twitter. While talks of illegitimacy filled the air in his first week in office, Trump wishing to propose that he has some sort of mandate even though he lost the popular vote, pushed against it by bizarrely claiming millions of illegals voted. That was not his idea, of course. But this would be a good reason why he lost the popular vote, according to his insecure delusional mind. Of course, this is sad and pathetic to any reasonable human being, but the propaganda was already set up for him. Weird right wing media sites are already aplenty and have been hounding for years how illegals are voting, despite millions of dollars of studies proving any such theory false. Trump proceeded, without evidence, to make the claim due to his insecurities. He was ridiculed, rightly so, and of course also believed wholly, by what is now recognized as his cult-like base, whom he already reckoned would not leave him even if he murdered someone in cold blood. They too, have been exposed to pre-propaganda to allow them to follow along in a conspiracy theory, despite all reasonable facts to the contrary.
There has been for a long time a distrust in the media in right wing circles, due to not having their side viewed in a favorable light in their perception, which seems to be a product of the propaganda they have been fed through a decade of internet, social media sharing and drop out journalists with no standards of actually reporting news, but gaining attention by making outrageous claims that garner “clicks” and as such, ad revenue. These types of websites of course, led Trump to believe Obama was born in Kenya, or that millions of illegals voted against him, or that Obama tapped Trump tower when pressure on him was coming down from the Michael Flynn fall out.
The conspiracy theories were propped up by fake news and terrible journalists who made up lies, spun stories and weaved tangled webs that one could only believed if they made up more conspiracy theories. Now I am not a Hillary supporter, a very unlikable candidate, but there was plenty of propaganda and lies spread to help Trump win the election. Hillary Clinton was “bribed” by Russia, by whomever, various claims of some possibly true, some probably true, and many nowhere near true stories have been made up. The Trump cult has believed them all and push them all at a dizzying rate, millions of shares and millions of voters illusioned by propaganda and half truths, which caused intense polarization and distancing from reality. This created hate and distrust for every institution in power, because they couldn’t understand why she was not in jail. More conspiracy theories were formed to justify their increasingly delirious perception, deep state was at play, yet somehow Hillary was protected. Of course, Trump ran on this madness as well, with “lock her up” being a key theme. Considering Trump isn’t the law as President, it was bluster and fecal matter that was being shot out, and “lock her up” quickly died on his agenda, as he had more important things to deal with, such as defending himself from the onslaught of news about Russia involvement, which he did not like.
The propaganda and conspiracy theories have most recently, taken a turn for the worse. No longer are conspiracy theories promoted as truth from Trump and his fervent supporters, but now they are being directly gaslighted by Trump, themselves and the propaganda machine. The entire story of Russia and their favor towards Trump was denied from the beginning, yet we see that the Trump team has known of their involvement from the beginning, as it was Trump Jr. who was first proposed to receive assistance from a “Russian government lawyer” to provide damaging information on Hillary, as part of the support of “the Russian Government”, per the emails he received and released publicly. This led us to the important revelation, that not only was this story not able to be considered a hoax or a witch hunt by all reasonable means as Trump pounded incessantly , which it was not, it was from the beginning an investigation from the beginning to see if there was a deeper connection and or to prevent the situation from occurring again, but it also showed that the Trump team had been lying about thinking Russia was not involved. They knew better and they knew before anyone outside of the government, it seems. The lies that followed a year were finally blown apart by this revelation that Trump Jr and the top echelon of Trumps staff knew all along, and really, there is no reason to think Trump didn’t know either. He is a con, after all and his son and son in law, Kushner, would have done a great disservice by not telling him, in confidence.
Yet after we know they know, Trump continues to call it a hoax. He called the Russian government operative just merely a lawyer, when the emails themselves explained the connection to the Russian government, their favor towards Trump. This is gaslighting, it is mental abuse, and his supporters have taken the bait once again it seems. Denying reality, they pretend the story is a hoax, even though the investigation is not just about Trump, there is something greater at stake, protecting the elections from further intervention. The followers fall prey to myopic tunnel vision of protecting their holy leader of the cult, forsaking patriotism and duty to protect the nation from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Trump’s conning ways, such as creating a fake university that scammed millions of dollars from people and spouting ignorant conspiracy theories coming off the top of his head, not thinking pretending to be smart, is exactly what shows that the US has become for a large minority. A nation who supports con artists, the voters showed support of an idiot who pretended he knew more than generals about ISIS, while proving he knew nothing. Trump showed America that an undisciplined conniving buffoon can make it to the top, lie to us all, gaslight us all, and still, people will fall victim to his abuse and lay down and think he is right. It is a shame on this nation and the people who support him thoroughly, they are not only enemies of this nation, they are enemies of themselves, of the world, of truth, justice, intelligence and all that one should hold dear.