When is a conspiracy theory not a conspiracy theory?

It is fascinating how the meaning of the phrase “conspiracy theory” changes depending on who is using it. Or more specifically, it depends on how Democrats are using it to advance their political goals.

For years, if not decades, some Americans were noticing behind-the-scene, well-concerted efforts to impose on our country a form of semi-totalitarian regime, not unlike the one that collapsed in the Soviet Union three decades ago. However, anyone who pointed to facts that supported claims of coordinated attempts to reduce the governments’ accountability to the American people, restrict individual liberties, expand governmental powers, and strengthen federal law-enforcement agencies was promptly branded as a “conspiracy theorist” (think of the character Mel Gibson played in Conspiracy Theory) who might belong in a mental hospital and certainly shouldn’t be taken seriously.

There were no conspiracies in America, we were told, and anyone who suggested that there were such conspiracies was insane, evil, or both.

That “mainstream” rhetoric changed a bit in 1998 when Ms. Hillary Clinton, defending Bill against charges of sexual misconduct with Monica Lewinsky, claimed he was the victim of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.” No one in the “mainstream” called her a “conspiracy theorist,” never mind asking for factual proof of her claim. Nineteen years later, when we were suddenly told that President Donald Trump “colluded with Russia” (another name for conspiring with Russia), despite (as we learned later) zero credible evidence supporting them, no “mainstream” narrator referred to House impeachment managers and their Congressional supporters as crazy “conspiracy theorists.”

But the progressive “mainstream” did not permanently abandon—at least, not permanently so—its disdain for “conspiracy theories.” It was back to its usual modus operandi during the 2020 presidential elections. Then, everybody who was concerned about plans to facilitate election fraud and cheating and, after the fact, was concerned about the swift destruction of evidence and the refusal to investigate to allay voters’ fears, was promptly relegated to the “conspiracy theorist” category.

Image: The conspiracy theorist (edited in befunky) by Morton Devonshire. CC BY-SA 3.0.

The Democrats’ reluctance to even consider the possibility of a conspiracy that was of great consequence to America magically evaporated on January 6, 2021, when tens of thousands gathered to hear Trump speak in D.C. about illegal “irregularities” and the loss of public trust in the election results and about 500 of those people ended up at the Capitol doing what leftists usually do (only without weapons). Now, in Democrat circles, it has become de rigueur to call those mostly spontaneously protesting individuals “insurrectionists” who conspired to overthrow the legitimate United States government. To date, no Democrats have dared to call Ms. Nancy Pelosi or Mr. Chuck Schumer “conspiracy theorists.”

Ultimately, for decades, depending on the political orientation of a person who made a claim of conspiracy, s/he has either been praised as a harbinger of unquestionable truth (if it was a “mainstream” Democrat or otherwise left-leaning individual who made that claim) or castigated as a mentally incompetent “conspiracy theorist” (if it was someone else).

There is a term in psychology that explains the above paradoxical attitudes of the “mainstream” ideologues in this respect. It is called projection—a tendency to ascribe one’s own tendencies and motivations (usually, but not always, sinister) to others. It appears that the “mainstream” Democrats and the lion’s share of the “progressive” left suffer from this mental dysfunction.

They are the ones who continuously conspire to undermine our constitutional republic and yet they are blaming others for threatening “our democracy.” Then they continue projecting their false accusations of conspiracy on others, branding those others as “conspiracy theorists” who are “falsely” accusing the Democrat party of conspiracy to seize permanent political power for itself through cheating and intimidation.

Fortunately, once you understand their tricks, you can easily discern what’s really going on based on what the “mainstream” Demo-Left is saying. Whatever sinister actions or plots they allege their adversaries are committing is pretty much exactly what they are already doing or are attempting to do.

So, if they accuse others of conspiring to overthrow the will of the American people, then they are actually conspiring to overthrow the will of the American people. And if they call their critics “conspiracy theorists,” then they are the actual conspiracy theorists who are making things up to feed their legendary lust for power—or maybe they’re saying those things just because they’re not very bright.

The puzzle is solved. You couldn’t have made it any easier for us, Mr. Sajak. Can we have something more difficult to solve next time?

Outside of his work at American Thinker, Mark Andrew Dwyer’s recent columns are here and here. You can find his other commentaries here

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