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A Discussion of Russell Muirhead and Nancy L. Rosenblum’s A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 December 2020

James A. Morone
Affiliation:
Brown University James_Morone@Brown.edu
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Charge: More than a half-century ago, Richard Hofstadter identified the “paranoid style” as an important feature of American politics. However, in A Lot of People are Saying, Russell Muirhead and Nancy L. Rosenblum argue that a “new” form of conspiracism has begun to infect contemporary American political life. Whereas “old” conspiracy theorists sought hidden evidence to describe why things are not as they seem, Muirhead and Rosenblum argue that purveyors of the new conspiracism make no attempt to substantiate their theories. In light of this fact-free approach, the authors thus warn that contemporary conspiracy theorists pose an unprecedented danger to foundational elements of American democracy, including political parties and knowledge-producing institutions. Moreover, Muirhead and Rosenblum assert, “The new conspiracism moved into the White House with the inauguration of Donald Trump” (p. 1), “the conspiracist in chief” (p. ix). If there is merit to this argument, then the fate of Trump’s reelection bid carries monumental consequences for the future of American democracy, as well as the way in which the United States responds to the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic. We therefore asked a range of scholars to comment on Muirhead’s and Rosenblum’s bold set of claims.

Type
Review Symposium
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Political Science Association

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References

Mickey, Robert, Steven, Levitsky, and Lucan, Ahmad Way. 2017. “Is America Safe for Democracy?Foreign Affairs 96(3): 2029.Google Scholar
Mooney, Chris. 2006. The Republican War on Science. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
Morone, James A. 2020. Republic of Wrath: How American Politics Turned Tribal from George Washington to Donald Trump. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
Muirhead, Russell. 2014. The Promise of Party in a Polarized Age. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rosenblum, Nancy. 2008. On the Side of the Angels: An Appreciation of Parties and Partisanship. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Suskind, Ron. 2005. “Faith, Certainty, and the Presidency of George W. Bush.” New York Times, October 17. https://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/17/magazine/faith-certainty-and-the-presidency-of-george-w-bush.html.Google Scholar

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A Discussion of Russell Muirhead and Nancy L. Rosenblum’s A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy
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