The Danger of Donald Trump's Delusions
Donald Trump tweeted this out earlier this morning:
We are winning and the press is refusing to report it. Don't let them fool you- get out and vote! #DrainTheSwamp on November 8th!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 24, 2016
This comes the day after his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, acknowledged that Donald Trump is losing.
But here’s the thing: Donald Trump believes he’s winning, and not like Mitt Romney believed he was winning in 2012. Some polling in 2012 had Romney within the margin of error, and he firmly believed that the polls were wrong. He thought there was a large percentage of people who weren’t being polled that was going to push him over the top. He was right about one thing: The polls were wrong. Obama won by a larger margin than predicted.
Trump is down by 12 points in the latest ABC poll. Several other polls show Clinton with a double digit lead. The NYTimes puts Clinton’s chances of winning at 93 percent. Nate Silver gives Trump a 13 percent chance of winning. Trump is losing Utah. Clinton is within the margin of error in Texas.
But Trump still thinks he’s winning. He really does, too. Because Trump believes the liberal media — which made him — is out to get him. He thinks that General Electric, which owns NBC, is pulling strings for Hillary. I think that he may have actually convinced himself that he never sexually assaulted any of the women who have alleged as much. If you repeat a lie often enough, not only can you convince others that it’s true, but you can convince yourself of it. After all, lies desensitize the brain to dishonesty. You know how I know that? Because of a link to a study on The Drudge Report.
That’s the nature of the alt-right media. Listen to Rush Limbaugh or Alex Jones for 20 minutes, and you will hear some crazy shit, like that the “elites” are withholding life extension technology from the rest of us, and that our only hope is to get off-world.
Donald Trump once suggested that Hillary Clinton fast-tracked Alicia Machado’s citizenship so that she could use her as a prop after the first debate, somehow knowing months in advance that she would be able to bait Trump into a self-destructive dialogue about the former Miss Universe. Donald Trump believes that Hillary Clinton was drugged during the first debate. Donald Trump believes that Hillary Clinton’s health has put her at death’s door.
Donald Trump legitimately believes that the election has been rigged against him, and he is so sure of it that he’s convinced 70 percent of his supporters into believing the same. This is the real danger of Trump after the election: He’s mainstreamed the alt-right. Drudge is a bigger site now than the NYTimes or CNN. Breitbart is a bigger site than NPR. The Drudge Report racked up 1.3 billion pageviews in August. Those people aren’t visiting to snort at the insane crackpot theories. They’re visiting because they believe what is being written, and right now, what is being written is that Trump is up by 2 points, that George Soros is manipulating voting machines, and that Hurricane Matthew was a liberal conspiracy to convince the world that global warming is real.
Roughly 30 percent of the population believes these things, and Donald Trump is chief among them. They’re not going away in December. They’re probably going to get bigger because they have an enemy in Hillary Clinton to fight against for at least another four years. Trump TV is only going to bolster those narratives.
Indeed, the lunatic right is going to continue to feed into the mainstream the way it did when CNN and NBC and the NYTimes began raising questions about Hillary Clinton’s health. The lunatic fringe will start to bleed into mainstream coverage, because the lunatic fringe knows how to get clicks, and when Trump is gone, everyone in the media is going to be desperate to hold on to the page views that Trump has provided. How? By getting in on some of that sweet, sweet tin-foil action by raising some of those very same questions. “Did you hear that Breitbart said that Clinton is a member of the Illuminati and helped to sacrifice Whitney Houston to make way for Blue Ivy? It’s ridiculous, of course, but we should probably look into it, shouldn’t we Jake Tapper?”
Donald Trump’s delusions are a dangerous thing, because those delusions are being propagated by his supporters and co-opted by a media culture desperate for its daily Trump fix. The only way to truly combat it is by raising a sane alternative that is just as compelling and clickworthy. Clearly, what America needs in 2017 and beyond is our own Justin Trudeau: A charismatic, good-looking guy who can sell us on those free college-tuition and universal healthcare conspiracies. Either that, or Beyoncé needs to run for Senate.
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