When Democracy Ails, Magic Thrives

Samuel Clowes Huneke in Boston Review:

On August 31 President Trump told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that people in “dark shadows” were controlling Joe Biden. When pressed by Ingraham, Trump elaborated, “We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend and in the plane it was almost completely loaded with thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear and this and that.”

The president’s ravings might have seemed psychotic had they not fit a Zeitgeist of paranoid, conspiratorial, and even magical thinking that has arced across our land over the last four years. Earlier this year, Trump praised Stella Immanuel, a Houston minister and pediatrician who believes, among other things, that ovarian cysts are caused by sexual intercourse with demons. A swell of right-wing voters have taken to the QAnon conspiracy, the belief that a cabal of left-wing politicians and Hollywood elites lead an international child sex ring. In response to the swelling number of deaths caused by COVID-19, Vice President Mike Pence told the Republican National Convention, “America is a nation of miracles,” and that there would be a COVID-19 vaccine “by the end of this year.” Trump has also recommended injecting sunlight and bleach as possible COVID cures.

While such thinking is undoubtedly on a tear among right-wing Americans, the left too has indulged in its share of conspiratorial and mystical thought.

More here.