Are we entering a new Golden Age of Conspiracy Theories?

Election Season is over, but that doesn’t mean conspiracy theories have to be. Why, just the other day I heard that protesters are being paid to protest election results. Journalists who’ve investigated these claims have found no evidence for them, but like I always say, “The absence of evidence is the evidence of evidence.” After all, people in America never protest, especially over election results. What other explanation is there? They MUST have been paid.

But wait – there’s more. Even President-Elect Trump has gotten in on the action. While the official vote count has Mr. Trump winning the electoral vote and losing the popular vote, he insists he actually won both, because millions of people voted illegally. What evidence does he have that millions of people voted illegally? You guessed it – none. Put another way, Mr. Trump has as much evidence for his claim of massive voter fraud as I have for my claim that he’s the King Midas of Truth.

So, are we entering a new, Golden Age of Conspiracy Theories? I certainly hope so. The real world is just so boring, random, and factual. Or is it? Maybe that’s just what they WANT me to think…

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What happens if Donald Trump loses? Donfirmation bias, that’s what.

If Donald Trump loses tomorrow, will he concede? Will he contest? Will he say the whole process was rigged? It all depends on what he said he’d do. That may sound simple enough, but you have to remember that only Mr. Trump can tell you what he said – not his campaign, not the media, and certainly not recordings.

While most politicians have mastered the arts of plausible deniability, false equivalence, and basic damage control, newcomers to the political scene don’t always have that luxury. They must develop their own ways to deal with inconvenient news cycles, opponent attacks, and unforced errors. Such is the case with Mr. Trump, who has established his own method: Donfirmation Bias.

Donfirmation Bias means never having to say you’re wrong. When Mr. Trump says something, even if all evidence appears to the contrary, he has to either stick with what he said or deny having said it in the first place. He has to find sources that agree with him and ignore or attack those that don’t. Neutral or nuanced stories must be interpreted to agree. This is why scandals that sink other politicians don’t sink Mr. Trump: He either didn’t do them, they were misreported, or they were the right thing to do. But, don’t confuse Donfirmation Bias for hardheadedness. A lot of work goes into it. When a claim Mr. Trump has made appears to be false, he has to put in a lot of time and effort to find sources that agree with him. It also requires being a principled chameleon, so when he does change his mind, he does it so completely, he can later deny it.

The closer a presidential election gets to Voting Day, the more supporters of a candidate will close ranks and defend their candidate against anything negative. Voters are also more likely to focus on the negatives of the opposing candidate when challenged on the negatives of their own. Thus, Mr. Trump’s (and Ms. Clinton’s) own supporters feed into the notion that what they are doing must be right. In other words, voter confirmation bias reinforces Donfirmation Bias.

Donfirmation Bias may at first appear to be a bad way to run a campaign. But, what at first appears to be a fatal flaw – that Mr. Trump is always right – is in fact its greatest strength. You see, Mr. Trump has contended that the election is rigged, and he has said that the only way he can lose is if Ms. Clinton, the media, and/or the establishment has rigged it in her favor. Therefore, even if he loses, he wins. It’s as true now as it was when he said it in the primaries. Ms. Clinton may have an arsenal of non sequiturs and the best crisis management team money can buy, but she has conceded that, if Mr. Trump wins the election, he will have won the election.

But, what if Mr. Trump concedes? That’s an easy one – it’s what he will have said he’d do all along…

What I’ll miss most from the election

I don’t know how many crazy things from this election will continue after it’s over, but I’ve certainly enjoyed the ride. I’d hate to have to say goodbye to things like:

The Comey-22
The FBI finished its investigation of Clinton’s email practices in July and recommended not charging her with anything. But, a few weeks ago, some Clinton emails appeared in an entirely unrelated investigation. There wasn’t yet a warrant to search them, so no one knew if there was anything there. But, it was a new development. The FBI generally doesn’t like to do anything that might influence an election, especially a presidential one. But, if it was discovered after the election that they hadn’t been publicized, they might be accused of the same thing. FBI Director James Comey had a decision to make: Release the information and be accused of trying to affect the election, or don’t release it and be accused of trying to affect the election. Of course, what he did was say that it was happening but that they didn’t know anything about it yet. We still don’t know what’s in the emails, other than a potential pink slip for Comey if Clinton gets elected…

The Lord’s Way
Comey may have had a difficult decision to make, but Jeffrey Lord never has that problem. Lord is a CNN contributor and Donald Trump supporter extraordinaire, and whenever Mr. Trump says, does, or doubles down on anything ridiculous, he’s there to clean it up. How does he do it? Simple: When Lord is asked a question about a negative thing Trump has said or done, he either a) compares him to Ronald Reagan without answering the question, or b) accuses Democrats of being racist, sexist, or otherwise bigoted without answering the question. It doesn’t matter if the question has nothing to do with any of those things, because the Lord’s Work must be done. Say, for example, someone asks Lord if Donald Trump can win in the general election, since he’s said so many things that turn so many people off. Of course he can win, Lord will say, because Ronald Reagan said things that turned people off, and he won in a landslide. If pressed for specifics, Lord will specifically say that Reagan was great and that Trump is great, and if pushed for even more specifics, he will even more specifically say that Reagan was great and that Trump is great. But, sometimes Reagan just isn’t enough, so Lord has to go to Plan B: Operation History. You or I may have learned in history class that, up until about the 1930’s, the Democratic Party ardently defended slavery, was heavily involved in the KKK, and Jim Crowed about everything. And, until about the 1960’s or ’70s, Southern Democrats were pretty much still doing that. However, while we might have also learned that the Democratic Party started appealing to blacks in the ’30s, passed various civil rights laws in the ’40s, passed the Civil Rights Act in the ’60s, and has actively tried to appeal to blacks since, the Lord’s Professor wants you to know that’s all wrong. As it turns out, the Democratic Party is still the Party of Racism for the simple reason that it was in the past. Lord also makes plenty of other “historical” appeals to portray Democrats as the party of sexism and pretty much everything else that Trump gets accused of throughout the campaign.

The Clinton Calculator
Quick: What’s the biggest non-biological difference between Bill and Hillary Clinton? That’s right – charisma. Bill Clinton used polls and focus groups all the time to figure out what to talk about and how to talk about it, but he was so good at communicating, no one really cared. Outside of a debate stage, Hillary seems overly-scripted, overly-calculating, and overly-rehearsed. I’m not sure how she does so much better in front of debate audiences than in front of other audiences, but I’m sure a focus group could tell us. Indeed, if the T-800 was Hillary Clinton, it would probably pay more attention to polls to find out why John Conner cries than to life experience and terrible ’90s slang.

Law & Order: DJT
If you want to see a political phrase used to maximum potential, take a look at how Richard Nixon talked about “law and order” in the 1968 campaign. If you want to see the opposite of that, take a look at how Donald Trump talks about “law and order” in the 2016 campaign. Sometimes, he uses it as a vague rallying cry. Sometimes, he just says it as a quick answer to a very specific question on law enforcement or the legal system. And, sometimes, he’ll just say it when something law- or law-enforcement related happened, with no real explanation as to what it means. Put another way: In the 2016 Election, the Donald is represented by two separate yet equally important words: law, which comes before order, and order, which comes after law…