chapter  4
19 Pages

US Politics in Post-truth Worlds

ByJohan Farkas, Jannick Schou

This chapter turns to U.S. politics and the rise of President Donald Trump. Trump has in many ways become not only a producer of discourses about fake news and alternative facts, but also a nodal point within discussions of these topics. This chapter traces how Trump (and a number of related figures from his political cabinet) has become a master signifier within wider democratic problems, according to public intellectuals, journalists and politicians alike. The chapter dives into the discursive struggle taking place in and around Trump to fixate and delineate the very meaning of factuality. Using “fake news” as a privileged point of departure, the chapter showcases how this particular concept has been used by Trump, critics of Trump and opponents of digital capitalism. We show how the concept has served as the epicenter of political struggles over the very nature of truth, reason and democracy in recent years. What emerges from these struggles is not a clear, consistent or definitive image of what can be legitimately counted as “fake” or “true,” but rather the contours of a new political battleground over the constitution of democracy. This chapter thus argues that “Trumpism,” understood as a political site of struggle over truth in the context of Trump’s presidency, is an important component of contemporary post-truth worlds.