Since the election of President Donald Trump, and in particular his inauguration, Google Trends has spiked with certain words at certain times — going up by hundreds of percent sometimes. Here are some of the highest ranking words that people have been searching for, and a little history about them:
Searches for "nepotism" spiked in the week leading up to President Trump's inauguration, as fears swirled that Trump's children were getting White House security clearance. More recently, he gave his daughter Ivanka an "unofficial" White House position, which again stoked interest in the term.
The word nepotism originated with the Italian word nepotismo, meaning "nephew." In the Middle Ages, Popes would elevate the sons of their brothers to the rank of Cardinal, giving them a trusted relative in a high position. This "cardinal-nephew" position wound up becoming a major part of the Vatican bureaucracy, and was responsible for bestowing favors and doctrinal enforcement, until it was abolished in the late 1600s.
Trump's nepotism is hardly unique. China scholars coined the term "princelings" to describe the children of high-ranking officials who were handed power in business and the military. Rulers of authoritarian nations in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia have handed power to relatives, and it's also routine practice among business tycoons who want to keep their holdings in their family.
When Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation into the Trump Administration's ties with Russia, it set off a flurry of searches for the term and what it means.
Technically known as "judicial disqualification," recusal is when a judge removes their self from presiding over a case because of a personal, familiar, or financial connection to a case. For example, Supreme Court justices will recuse themselves often, usually from cases they'd presided over as Solicitor General, or in cases where the justice owns stock in a particular industry that has a case before the court.
For Sessions, recusal means that acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente, not him, will lead any investigation into the 2016 Election.
Searches for this form of radical authoritarian nationalism spiked both after Trump's election and shortly before the Inauguration. Opinions are divided on whether President Trump is or isn't presenting fascist tendencies. But there was clearly a great deal of interest in the term, what it means, and where it came from.
The word derives from the Italian term Fascista, referring to a bundle of rods. Ancient Roman magistrates used the symbol of rods wrapped around an axe to denote authority, and in 1915, Italian soldier Benito Mussolini formed an action group called the "Fasci of Revolutionary Action" and used that symbol. By the early 1920's, fascism was the dominant power in Italy, and Mussolini seized control of the government in a coup in October, 1922.
Adolf Hitler would embrace the tenets of Mussolini's fascism, as would subsequent dictators in the decades to come. While there are many definitions of what exactly fascism is, they all share a profound commitment to nationalism and security, total authority in the hands of a single leader, direct action through violence, suppression of dissent, and heavily propagandized state media.
President Trump's accusation that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped the phones at Trump Tower sent Google users on a flurry of searches for the term.
The tapping of telephones and telegraphs is as old as the devices themselves, and the Supreme Court established its constitutionality in law enforcement in the landmark 1928 case Olmstead v. United States. The term itself comes from the physical act of inserting an extra wire into the line between the switchboard and the caller, which carried a signal to a listener elsewhere.
Electronic eavesdropping became the norm as switchboards became automated in the 1960s. At the same time, the Supreme Court found that wiretapping required a warrant in Katz v. United States. Most states bar wiretapping by citizens, and some even make it illegal to record a conversation without the consent of the other party.
The particular wiretapping Trump alleged (without evidence) took place in Trump Tower, and couldn't have been ordered by the executive branch. Only the FBI can request a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and it has to be done at a special court, and can only be approved by the Attorney General.
FBI Director James Comey has denied that a FISA warrant was taken out on Trump himself, but that intelligence on Trump's campaign might have been collected in an investigation into another party.