In the Spring of 1994, Thomas Risse-Kappen tried to understand the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union by introducing a new approach to International Relations theories. He suggested that theorists should “take the role of ideas – knowledge, values, and strategic concepts – seriously. Ideas intervene between material power-related factors on the one hand and state interests and preferences on the other”. Risse-Kappen stressed that ideas are powerful political assets since they can be one of the causes for the end of a 60-year-old structure. Therefore, they are not propagated as a natural phenomenon. He pointed out that, behind ideas, there are agents who create them and spread them even across borders and inside authoritarian regimes.
The internet is a world built using words and images in place of brick and mortar. As is often the case, the results of such tools depend on whose holding them. When it comes to online discourse concerning Donald Trump, the structure typically rests upon a foundation of conflict and hostility. The animosity which emerges between his supporters and opponents can be discovered in almost any context, even when the subject matter does not superficially appear to reference Trump’s political agenda. However, it is often within this peripheral discourse that new social and cultural ideals may be constructed through the use of multifaceted language. Such is the case with HottiesforTrump, a SubReddit page designed for posting and commenting on images of women identified as Trump supporters and happens to result in discourse regarding both the objectification of women and political idealization.
In an age of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” do we need more facts, more evidence, and more truth, or can misinformation only be exposed by better interpretation? The Trump administration’s attacks on the trustworthiness of mainstream media, coupled with its unwillingness to acknowledge its own informational biases, renders this hermeneutic question important.