Conspiracy theories are the ultimate attack and defense when leading the willfully blind. Free speech is a valuable right, but conspiracy theories are an inevitable result of that freedom. In the past, authoritarian government control was done through the crudeness of blatant lies and omissions. If an event disagreed with the governments interests it simply wasn't reported. Underground information was trafficked through gossip and networks. Picture Tiananmen Square in China, an event that actually occurred but is no longer allowed to be mentioned in polite society.
Modern America isn't a typical authoritarian state. It is instead host to an authoritarian party which doesn't quite have absolute power and thus cannot freely suppress information to suit its needs. But that doesn't matter. The many pundits and followers of the Republican party don't long for truth but yearn for superiority. They put the cart before the horse by putting their desires before facts. Take climate change for instance. Climate change is measurable, has a scientific consensus, and is doing visible destructive damage. The fire in Maui is a great example of that damage spilling over. Yet the party owned by oil companies cannot let bad PR get the better of them. Instead their people get to work spreading misinformation to their followers who trust them implicitly.
Take the tweet above. Could conservatives not know that fire disperses itself in a relatively random and non-uniform manner? Or is there a secret coverup of a planned fire that intentionally avoided the houses of the wealthy in order to.... who knows? Leaving out the fact that they don't have a "why." The lemmings are willing to jump on the first piece of info that scratches the itch of their confirmation bias.
The laziness of these theories cannot be understated. To the left, the tweet implies that Obama's estate was untouched by the Maui fires and therefore Obama had something to do with this event. Obama did have something to do with it. He didn't take steps during his administration to limit CO2 emissions and drilling. He propped up the fossil fuels industry with policies and subsidies. But one thing that he cannot be faulted for is not having an estate in Maui. His estate is on the Island of Oahu, a completely different location than Maui which was indeed untouched by fire.
All it takes is one tweet to get thousands of people with zero critical thinking skills to believe that Obama was a co-conspirator in an act that benefits no-one. Could it be that they just hate Obama? No its reality that's wrong in their eyes.
Rather than focus on the poor morons that fall prey to these disinformation land mines. Lets instead focus on the intents of the people who knowingly spread these narratives for profit. Vivek Ramaswamy is the second Republican presidential front runner behind Trump as DeSantis has fallen permanently behind in a race that he is unlikely to catch up in. Ramaswamy is a leader of the Republican party and therefore his conspiracies are spread with purpose rather than blindness. He is a wolf among sheep. A con man among rubes.
When he states that the Maui catastrophe is a result of foul play, he zeroes in on failures from state officials and links them to the Obama Foundation and climate activism implying those are the reasons for the slow response. He also attacks the Democratic leadership for their relatively slow response. The slow response to the fire is a failure of emergency prevention. However, it is a governmental failure rather than an ideological one. Ramaswamy's interests are both financial and political. His firm owns a 0.02% share of Chevron, which emitted 672 million tonnes of CO2 in 2021 and is in the top 10 oil producers on planet earth. Ramaswamy is also ideologically against Obama and anything he represents. He stands to win everything by pushing the general publics attention away from climate change and towards any tangential connection this event has to Obama. Therefore, a single tweet like this is as effective a weapon as a FOX news segment or a prime time speech. Ideas will propagate and circulate, regardless of truth or lies.
The life cycle of these ideas can stretch rapidly if they get picked up by the average person. They expand when picked up by podcasters who are "just asking questions" like Joe Rogan or conservative media pundits with rabid audiences like the Daily Wire. Regardless, conspiracies need to be tracked by the rational among us too. A well placed and well backed up conspiracy can result in violence such as the stealing of the 2020 election. As time goes on there will be a surge of these rhetorical weapons as they're all the GOP has left. Even if its all style and no substance, when have they ever needed substance?