Trump’s victory: how scandal gave way to conspiracy theories

Donald Trump (Source: Facebook)

Donald Trump (Source: Facebook) 

Analysis & Opinion, Op-ed

The victory of the Republican Party’s candidate Donald Trump in the US presidential elections did not exactly surprise me, but, as with many others, it has created a sense of anxiety about the direction this future president may take. Trump’s domestic and international policies are still very difficult to predict – much depends on the composition of his future administration as well as on how he builds a relationship with the Republican establishment. For now, it is interesting to attempt to understand the reasons for the victory that so many never saw coming.

As often happens with unexpected and even shocking events, there are a variety of causes and conditions at play, some objective, others created artificially. Amongst the former is the technological revolution, which has shifted the term “middle class” toward IT specialists and the intellectual elite. The rapid growth of Silicon Valley and other high technology industries has led to a sharp rise in their cost of living, significantly impacting the income of those working outside the IT industry.

The second reason for Trump’s victory was the domestic agenda of the leaders of the Democratic Party, which proved unable to equalize the differences in income that have arisen between segments of the American population. Immigrants are perceived to have taken away American jobs. Moreover, some immigrants are provided with social guarantees, supports and benefits paid for by taxpayers: this assistance correspondingly diminishing their incentive to seek work. The system is highly bureaucratic: the list of “beneficiaries” who may be granted refugee status covers a large number of people who do not face serious persecution (for example, the persecution of Protestants in Ukraine ceased long ago). All this only exacerbates social inequality and discontent amongst Americans.



Another area of American dissatisfaction concerns the Democratic Party’s rhetoric attaching importance to the protection of individual and minority rights. As a result, even formal support towards minorities and immigrants sows resentment amongst American people, especially those living in the America’s rural heartland. The older generation is unhappy that patriotism appears to be considered inferior to political correctness, and professionalism yielding to a requirement “to ensure diversity.” Many American Christian faith communities are also unhappy at the loss of their dominant status in society. It is also impossible to ignore the rumors of possible scandals associated with the Clinton Foundation.

Amongst the artificially created conditions, one can name the several years of rather aggressive propaganda from radical Republicans which has been noted by American journalists. I have often had to listen to the argument of a “liberal conspiracy,” “Democratic propaganda machine,” about how there is apparently no freedom and democracy in America but an invisible and extremely unpleasant dictatorship. As a person that has seen a modern dictatorship with her own eyes, it was admittedly rather far-fetched to hear such arguments in a country with a free media offering diametrically opposed viewpoints, independent courts, fair elections and, as we have seen recently, a peaceful transition of power from the ruling party to the opposition.

Similarly, with the injection of conspiracy theories, radical exaggeration of existing problems to the level of “tragedy,” “catastrophe” and “destruction of the country” (in other words, the artificial creation of the feeling of an extreme situation), the Republican propaganda appears strikingly similar to its Russian counterpart – with the only difference being that in Russia the monstrous enemy was until recently the USA, while in America it is the governing party itself. As a result, a growing sense of failure and despair has been created in a part of society, which Trump’s populism with his arrogant promises to fix everything has exploited. Demonizing the enemy also provided fertile ground for the growth of aggression and xenophobia.

Incidentally, supporters of these theories have claimed that the protests against the election of Trump now engulfing the country “have been financed by Soros,” as “liberals do not respect our democracy.” This is especially funny to hear, as Trump himself had said that he would not respect the result in the event of his being defeated, claiming ahead of time that the election was going to be “rigged.” The leaders of the Democrats (both Obama and Clinton), on the other hand, meekly accepted the results without even challenging them or providing support for the protests. In addition, it is clear that the protests, without leaders or constructive purpose, is not able to develop into a fully-fledged revolution: thus its supposed “financing” would have been a waste of money.

Yet it is much easier for conspiracy theorists to believe in conspiracy and “professional paid protesters” than that their favorite candidate may have alienated large segments of people during the campaign, and perceiving her as a personal threat. Who in this spirit can forget Putin’s saintly belief that all protests are financed by the CIA with the aim of destroying Russia!

FBI Director, James Comey

FBI Director, James Comey (Photo:

However, we cannot say that the media under Democrat control differs in absolute truthfulness. There are also “yellow” publications to be found, or individual articles with inaccuracies. However, their philosophy is pursued in a more “western” style: namely, using the psychology of the scandal, a sensational a noisy splash of unverified information. For example, after the announcement at the end of October by FBI director James Comey about the resumption of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, some media immediately published articles that the FBI is “Trumpland” and practically all its agents pathologically hate Hillary Clinton and openly play on Trump’s side. However, several experienced journalists with sources in law enforcement bodies told me that amongst the rank and file, the ratio of sympathy (and to be fair antipathy) lay at around 50-50, much in line with the average in American society.

Of course, this does not diminish the fact that Comey’s action would exert influence on the election result, since a fairly large part of the population remained undecided about which of the two candidates they liked least until the very last moment. It is no coincidence that Hillary Clinton directly blamed Comey for her defeat. The overt agitation in favor of Trump by former FBI agents through Rudy Giuliani (with the disclosure of rumors and leaks) cannot be ignored. However, at the same time the example of Trumpland easily demonstrates how facts may be transformed into some grand revelation, in full accordance with the laws of scandal.

The laws of psychology, however, are such that scandal will inevitably give way to conspiracy. The fact is that conspiracy theories, in contrast to scandals, create a harmonious and quite logical belief system, directing people towards an almost religious belief in them. A scandal in its essence does not imply that it be believed in; its aim is to attract attention, generate interest, provide information without worrying about its veracity. It does not have to create any coherent or logical system, as it is designed for people with today’s “click consciousness.” However, it can be a decisive factor in key decision-making, as was clearly the case with Comey’s letter.

Hillary Clinton (Source:

Hillary Clinton (Source:

At the same time, even the creators of the scandal cannot easily predict its outcome. It is unlikely that the media, which danced at every Trump trick, expected that this would only add to his popularity. In particular, they are unlikely to think that every instance of unverified information is immediately used by conspiracy theorists as evidence of conspiracy theories. Furthermore, nobody at all thought that a society used to scandals would react so vociferously to the scandal used against Hillary, but not against Trump – the most notorious being the FBI letter. In this context, it does not matter that the letter resulted in no grounds for indictment. The scandal, in contrast to conspiracy theories, implies no continuation, but is a shot into space designed to produce an immediate effect, and nothing more.

It is now difficult to say that it was this very last event that determined the outcome of the election (given the fact that Clinton won a simple majority of votes cast by over 2 millions votes and still counting). However, the voters will demand very soon that the new president carry out specific actions and the implementation of election promises. Moreover, in the event that Trump should fail, he will find it almost impossible to hide his mistakes behind the smokescreen of conspiracies and scandals, of which there are so many, as ultimately reality takes precedence over what we see on television.


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  • Steve

    I cannot but help feel this article is thin veneer to hind behind to justify Clinton while attacking the choice of the American People. Her reference to the popular vote, long a Red Herring of the Left and Democrats, shows she has ZERO understanding of why the Electoral College exists. She and a lot of Americans have some homework to do as to the WHY of the EC. Hint: it ensures ALL States are heard and that a majority does not override the rights of the minority.

    • MichaelA

      who cares about trump or clinton?
      usa does what it does regardless
      many american lawmakers are supporting ukraine

  • Turtler

    How did scandals give way to conspiracy theories?

    Well, first let’s talk about the irresponsible and stupid fanning of the flames of conspiracy theories that both sides engaged in, both in those that supported Trump and those who Opposed Trump. The latter of which includes this very site. When you see newspapers blare out UTTER NONSENSE that Trump (a lifelong Liberal New York Democrat until very very recently, and an amoral but apparently unbigoted shark) is somehow a closet Nazi, the New Hitler/Mussolini/Whatever, or the key of the Klan and that all those who support him are closet Putinbots or Klanners… well suddenly you are normalizing a lot of very stupid, very reckless, and very prejudiced behavior now ain’t you?

    And then let’s talk about Proof- ACTUAL, INDISPUTABLE PROOF- surfacing by means legitimately (like Judicial Watch) or illegitimately (by scum like our “friends” Wikileaks and their master in the Kremlin) that Hillary Clinton is provably guilty of several felonies and has no ability to legally hold a government option. And the response by plenty of people- including this site- to the imminent usurpation of the constitution is to pretend it doesn’t exist. That anybody who dares point to it is in the pocket of Putin. And then we see how law enforcement that by all means SHOULD have persecuted Clinton because the case was ironclad detail her many crimes and then insist on not recommending persecution on bogus grounds. What do you think that will lead to?

    Had Hillary Clinton not been guilty of many glaring crimes, she wouldn’t have been in a position to be utterly humiliated by them being aired at the worst possible time.

    Had the government and those who opposed Trump not let their PETTY HATRED for the man and those who support him get in the way of HONORING THE LAW and insisted that Hillary Clinton’s misdeeds be investigated honestly and prosecuted, somebody more competent and less toxic would almost certainly have replaced her and probably defeated him.

    But that isn’t what you did, now did you? So you helped create Trump and helped give air to every unhinged conspiracy theory that came out of people in and around his camp by endorsing even MORE unhinged conspiracy theories attacking him.

    There. I gave an explanation on how scandals became conspiracy theories, I did it in a fraction of the time this article did, and without indulging in overly ornate and technical word choices.

    Where’s my editing privileges?

    • Mephisto

      Putins manipulation of US elections and that Trump is (probably an unwitting) agent for Putin isn’t a conspiracy theory, but the most probable interpretation of known facts. Its enough to observe russian propaganda trolls in Europe, how they push Trump and denigrate Obama and Hillary.
      You blame Hillary that she used private emails and is guilty of felony. But what about a guy who does business with mafia and is manipulated by Putin? What/who is a greater danger for your country? Do you not find it strange, that FBI director releases a couple of days before elections some materials on Clinton?
      His choice of personnel is not exactly reassuring – Russian trolls, ultra-right wing conservatives etc.
      But we’ll see after one year of his presidency. Thus far, he is producing only anxiety in me.

      • Turtler

        “Putins manipulation of US elections and that Trump is (probably an
        unwitting) agent for Putin isn’t a conspiracy theory,”

        Yes, it is, since it theorizes a conspiracy. That doesn’t make it on the same grade of nonsense like “The Gubernment is concealing Aliens at Area 51.” For instance, the conspiracy theory of how the Clinton Camp had an illegal private server with unspeakably classified information also is there.

        In general my main caveats with the Putin manipulating elections bit is that I use a lower case m rather than an upper case M.. I have little doubt he tried to use his influence and resources to put weight on the side of the scales he wanted. But that gets transformed into ideas that he is solely responsible for Trump’s victory, or for Brexit.

        Which is utter nonsense.

        Its enough to observe russian
        propaganda trolls in Europ

        “You blame Hillary that she used private emails and is
        guilty of felony. But what about a guy who does business with mafia and
        is manipulated by Putin? What/who is a greater danger for your country?”

        Easy. The bitch guilty of stealing classified and above classified information and putting it on an insecure private server that she conducted business on.

        Because for as damaging and untrustworthy as someone dealing with shady characters MAY be, one crime involves violating the trust of governmental authority and committing crimes of such a magnitude they disqualify the violator from ever holding any government position. And the other does not.

        And like it or not, a few Putinbots going on speaking on script is unlikely to get anybody KILLED. Unlike one of the largest intelligence leaks in history.

        “Do you not find it strange, that FBI director releases a couple of days
        before elections some materials on Clinton?”

        Better issue: Don’t you find it strange that Comey stated UNDER OATH that Clinton had perjured herself before Congress when she claimed all work related emails had been turned over? That none of them had been destroyed?

        And then that he laid out a large amount of information about how she violated the law and then declined to recommend persecution for what were obviously illegal actions on the basis of something with no grounding in this law (namely intent)? And that he had to go as far as to state that other people found violating these exact laws without intent would still be persecuted?

        Or that after spending months vetting a ceertain number of emails, Comey’s FBI stated they had cleared about ten times more in the span of a few days?

        Have you ever considered any of those things?

        The “Don’t you find it strange…?” stuff is some of the logic I often see hack conspiracy theorists use. That of “Who benefits?” Which is not completely invalid (people will usually pursue actions that benefit them).

        But in this case it is frankly irrelevant. I don’t really CARE why Comey, Putin, or Assange did what they did or revealed the facts they did as much as the fact that they were there to be revealed in the first place. And the irony is that if Hillary’s defenders had valued obedience to the law over their grudge with Trump and pushed for her to be investigated and persecuted, a less toxic and lethargic Democratic Candidate would probably have defeated Trump.

        It more than proves that Hillary Clinton is guilty of far, far, Far worse crimes than anything Trump can be accused of yet in anyone’s darkest imagination.

        “His choice of personnel is not exactly reassuring – Russian trolls, ultra-right wing conservatives etc.”

        As an ultra-right wing conservative, I only object to the former.

        “But we’ll see after one year of his presidency. Thus far, he is producing only anxiety in me.”

        Frankly, the state of the world should be producing anxiety in you. It isn’t pleasant, but it is true. I don’t care a great deal for Trump but he is going to have to play a very ugly hand of cards.

        And the fact that a Putin Proxy- that being Assange and Wikileaks- gave more honest coverage of Hillary’s crimes than Slate and other “Respectable” media institutions should give you a vast amount of anxiety.

  • zorbatheturk

    Every 8 years US voters generally switch parties. Since 1828 only twice have the Democrats held power for more than two consecutive terms: once in 1836, and the second occurrence was the unprecedented 20 year run 1932 – 1952 under FDR and Truman. FDR had three terms; subsequently the law was changed to restrict future presidents to a two term max. Well, the Great Depression followed by World War Two are not normal events – which is likely why Americans played it safe by sticking with Roosevelt.

    So, get ready for a Demon Rat comeback probably in 2024 – unless Trump totally blows it.