According to Brendan Nyhan at The New York Times, Democrats are falling in love with conspiracy theories in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. Nyhan cites polls and psychological research that suggests liberals, looking for some way to make sense of their stunning defeat in November, are beginning to embrace the same kind of “fake news” that supposedly resonated with conservatives prior to Trump’s victory.
“Even as Democrats decry the false claims streaming regularly from the White House, they appear to have become more vulnerable to unsupported claims and conspiracy theories that flatter their own political prejudices,” Nyhan writes. “The reason isn’t just that a Republican now occupies the White House. Political psychology research suggests that losing political control can make people more vulnerable to misinformation and conspiracy theories.”
Nyhan says that a survey taken shortly after the November election showed that Democrats “were more likely to agree with conspiracy-minded statements than they had been a few months earlier.”
“There has been a noticeable increase in the flow of dubious and unsupported claims among liberals,” he writes.
He points out several examples of widely-shared, kooky stories suggesting that Trump is subverting democracy through the use of executive actions and false-flag attacks. He notes that even respected professional Democrats like former Labor Secretary Robert Reich have traded in this nonsense; Reich theorized last month that Trump and Milo Yiannopoulos actually orchestrated the riot at UCLA in an attempt to crack down on liberal universities.
So if you’ve noticed your liberal Facebook friends sharing stories that have little or no connection to reality, maybe this is the phenomenon to blame. They see Trump’s election as a threat to their worldview, so they’re searching high and low for a narrative that will repair the holes in their shattered bubble.
Of course, the unspoken question is this: Why do Democrats still find it so hard to believe that America chose Trump over Hillary Clinton?
And it’s not surprising that it would remain unspoken, given that this article appeared in The New York Times. They don’t want to admit that their coverage of the election (and of the Obama administration) helped to create that false, unhinged worldview to begin with. Liberals don’t go around calling the mainstream media “fake news,” but they were the ones who were actually victimized by the bias. For months, they were told that the email scandal was nothing to be concerned about, that Trump was just using the campaign as a launching pad for his business interests, and that there was virtually no way for Hillary Clinton to lose.
From that perspective, it’s no wonder they’re turning to conspiracy theories. They’re just trading one form of fiction for another.