Previously, I wrote about the GOP’s 70-year descent into political and social madness, starting with its embrace of Joe McCarthy’s insane “Commies under the bed” conspiracy theories, proceeding through its welcoming of racists and white nationalists into its fold, its embrace of the rabid pseudo-libertarian Tea Party, and now its full-on embrace of Trumpian authoritarianism.
It’s always been about power and control with the GOP, and, like other demagogic, fascist political cults, the fabric of the host nation’s political, economic and social structures must be destroyed if they are to remain in control.
QAnon gives them the additional firepower they need to do just that. What connects the QAnon fanatics with the McCarthyites, the neo-Confederates, the American Nazis, and the Tea Party lunatics? An energy born of their rabidity. That’s an energy the GOP has and will continue to tap.
If you’re still not familiar with the whole QAnon phenomenon, give the Wikipedia page a quick once-over. Basically, in 2017, someone on the Internet shitposting forum 4Chan tried to stir up a controversy by posting as “Q,” a self-proclaimed anonymous government official who said he had “inside information” about the “deep state” conspiracy against Donald Trump and his administration. I’ve read that the person or group who started this might have done it as a joke, intended to prove how the idiot MAGA denizens will believe anything if you just tell them something they want to believe. It’s certain that in a very short time, several people took the original QAnon (“Q Anonymous”) post and shared it on multiple social media platforms, trolling for money.
The blithering idiots that make up Trump’s base lunged at the QAnon posts, and threw money at the posters. So of course the “inside information” presented by “Q” and his cohorts kept on coming. They quickly snapped up Pizzagate, which had the 2016 Clinton campaign, the DNC, Hollywood liberals, and your Aunt Matilda conspiring to run a child sex-trafficking ring out of a pizza parlor in Washington, DC. They say that Trump, wily bastard that he is, just pretended to collude with Russia in order to pull one over on Robert Mueller, expose the sex-trafficking ring, and prevent Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and George Soros from executing a coup d’etat. The conspiracy is self-sealing and self-protecting, with proponents claiming that a lack of evidence for whatever insane claim they’re making is of itself proof of that claim. See how easy?
Add the 9/11 Truther movement (yes, they’re still out there), the “Clinton murder list” (yes, that’s still out there), and the belief that John F. Kennedy is still alive and kicking somewhere in the US, and you have a full-blown loon squad swarming into American politics.
By the summer of 2018. QAnon minions were showing up at Trump rallies, and Trump found them fascinating. Radio screamer Michael “Lionel” Lebron, a QAnon advocate, got a photo op with Trump in August 2018, and another radio lunatic who loves QAnon, Bill Mitchell, got himself an invitation to a White House “social media summit in July 2019. At a Trump rally in Las Vegas, Kayleigh “QAnon Barbie” McEnany, who was not yet Trump’s press secretary, gave a QAnon minion the opportunity to shout out QAnon slogans to the rabid crowd.
Think about that next time you see McEnany bobbing and twerking behind the podium.
A May 2019 FBI bulletin (PDF file) listed QAnon as one of the “anti-government, identity-based, and fringe political conspiracy theories” that “very likely motivate some domestic extremists to commit criminal, sometimes violent activity.” Trump and his administration don’t care how violent or dangerous, or crushingly stupid, the QAnon movement is. They love Trump, so Trump favors them, often by retweeting their garbage, sometimes several times in a single day. The Trump campaign’s director of press communications has publicly invited QAnon adherents to sign up for a “Trump Victory Leadership initiative training,” essentially inviting QAnon members to join his campaign. The campaign includes QAnon logos and iconography in some of its campaign advertisements. The White House’s director of social media and deputy chief of staff for communications, Dan Scavino, both endorses praise from QAnon accounts and posts QAnon memes on his and the campaign’s accounts. Eric Trump himself posted (and soon deleted) an image drumming up support for the infamous Tulsa rally-that-barely-was that included a giant Q and the group’s slogan, “Where we go one, we go all.” And convicted felon Michael Flynn, who was Trump’s head of national security for 17 halcyon days, is a vocal QAnon supporter who actually took an “oath of allegiance” to QAnon in a video posted to YouTube.
At least two murders, one kidnapping, the vandalism of a church, a heavily armed standoff at the Hoover Dam, and the intentional derailing of a locomotive in an attempt to destroy a US Navy hospital ship, all have been committed by fanatical QAnon adherents. None of that seems to bother Trump in the slightest.
And the banning of hundreds or thousands of QAnon-related accounts — many of them Russian or pro-Russian Ukrainian bot accounts — on Twitter and Facebook has only made Trump and the QAnon loons more determined to spread their message.
Trump and his campaign are increasingly relying on QAnon to fuel their rallies and energize — indeed, to become — his base. The Washington Post writes:
The erroneous ideas defining QAnon — that Trump is a messianic figure fighting the so-called deep state, that he alone can be trusted, that his opponents include both Democrats and Republicans complicit in years of wrongdoing and that his rivals are not just misguided but criminal and illegitimate — represent core tenets of the president’s reelection campaign, especially as his poll numbers slump.
The political and social thrust of the QAnon crazies and Donald Trump are becoming indistinguishable. Trump endorsed hydroxychloroquine for treating the COVID-19 virus; so does QAnon. QAnon insists the entire pandemic is an international hoax designed to topple the Trump presidency; Trump agrees. Trump wants to militarize the federal response to peaceful protests; QAnon does, too. QAnon advocates that the Clintons, the Obamas, John Brennan, and the entire Congressional leadership be arrested, detained, and sent to Gitmo without trial; Trump loves that idea. Trump wants to reopen the public schools and the economy as a whole without further concerns about the pandemic; QAnon agrees wholeheartedly. If you create a Venn diagram with “Trumpism” and centrally accepted QAnon conspiracies and tenets, there won’t be much difference between the two. (In August 2020, a Trump spokesperson, Sarah Matthews, accused the Washington Post of “peddl[ing] in conspiracy theories” by asserting the alignment with Trump and QAnon.)
Ethan Zuckerman, the director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT, says:
We’re seeing the Trump campaign tack closely to an almost explicitly QAnon narrative. I don’t expect to hear the president talking about pedophilia or Satanism, but I expect to hear almost everything else.
Give him time, Mr. Zuckerman.
And now at least 59 QAnon candidates are running for US Congress, many with the endorsement of Trump and other GOP political leaders. At least 11 QAnon adherents won their primaries and are running for Congress in November.
One, Angela Stanton-King, a candidate for the US House in Georgia, served two years in prison for car theft before Trump commuted her sentence in February. She regularly posts about Democrats being closet pedophiles and the coronavirus “hoax.” She even asserts that the economic crash of July was a hoax to make Trump look incompetent.
Theresa Raborn, a candidate for the US House in Illinois, says she is “on the fence” about QAnon, unable to “definitively debunk or definitively confirm.” The Flynn video let her to consider QAnon as a viable and vibrant force in Republican politicts. Thankfully, she is running in a heavily Democratic district and will be free to go back to the lunatic asylum after she loses in November.
Lauren Boebert upset a Republican incumbent in a recent US House primary in Colorado. While she isn’t explicitly a Q proponent, she has lauded it, saying, “I hope that this is real because it only means America’s getting stronger and better and people are returning to conservative values. And that’s what I am for. And so everything that I have heard of this movement is only motivating and encouraging and bringing people together, stronger. And … if this is real, then it can be really great for our country.”
Jo Rae Perkins won a GOP primary to challenge Oregon’s Democratic senator, Jeff Merkley, in what is expected to be a handy win for Merkley. But after her primary win, she said in a video,
I stand with President Trump. I stand with Q and the team. Thank you Anons and thank you patriots — and together we can save our republic.
Her campaign deleted the video soon after and denied her affiliation with the QAnon movement, but she then confirmed her alliance with the movement in an ABC News interview, and then posted another video of her taking the QAnon oath. Whoops.
Mike Cargile is a US House candidate in California, targeting incumbent Norma Torres (D-Not Insane). He’s a vocal proponent of QAnon, sporting their logo on his Twitter profile and publicly proclaiming his allegiance. Like Perkins, he’s unlikely to defeat his opponent.
Erin Cruz is running for another US House seat in California, against another incumbent, Raul Ruiz (D-Also Not Insane). LIke Boebert, she tries to play the middle with her QAnon affiliation, telling an NBC reporter, “I think that the biggest thing with QAnon is there’s information coming out. And sometimes it is in line with what’s going on in government. So when you ask me, do I know what QAnon is? Yes, but what is it to everybody else? That’s the bigger thing.”
Boebert and another US House candidate in Georgia, Marjorie Taylor Green, who has been a vocal QAnon proponent since 2017, are in deep red districts and will likely be elected to the House in November. Expect shenanigans to commence.
(Green is a 9/11 truther who says there is no evidence that an airliner struck the Pentagon on that day. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Asshole) says he is looking forward to her joining their caucus. She also calls Soros a Nazi, Barack Obama a militant Muslim, and says African-Americans are being kept as slaves by the Democrats. She will fit right in, though right-wing pundit Rich Lowry is desperately trying to claim she is a lunatic who doesn’t represent the GOP. Good luck with that one, Lowry. The countdown begins as to how long Lowry holds out before joining the QAnon chorus.)
The Washington Post‘s Philip Bump recently wrote:
If this seems like a natural fit within what’s often called the MAGAverse — the most hardcore supporters of Trump and his “make America great again” movement — you’re correct. Many facets of Q, including the embrace of unfounded conspiracy theories and skepticism about formal sources of information, align with Trump’s personal approach to the world. You can think of QAnon as being largely a subset of MAGA — Trump fans who take their enthusiasm about the president into another level of thinking.
Bump parallels the ascendance of Trump as a viable candidate in 2016 with the nascent rise of QAnon as a factor in GOP politics. Both appealed to the racist, ignorant Republican base, spewing inflammatory lies about Democrats, liberals, immigrants, and anyone else they can think to target. Both espoused a hatred for the establishment — the “swamp” or the “deep state,” whichever term you prefer. Polls show that while a large majority of Americans have no belief in any of the standard conspiracy theories making the rounds, Republican voters often do. And it doesn’t seem to matter how ludicrous or debunked the conspiracies are.
The New York Times‘s Kevin Roose says of those in the QAnon ranks:
These are people who might be skeptical of mainstream science or authorities, and they’re inserting their messages to those communities. So that’s what people need to be made aware of — these aren’t people hanging out in the dark corners of the internet anymore.
I haven’t yet heard of the “Anons” worrying about chemicals being added to the water to make us all gay, or Avril Lavigne being replaced by a clone named Melissa, or Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign logo being an implicit reference to 9/11 (this one I bet they love), or the federal government conducting blood sacrifice rituals every April (how can they resist this one?), or Prince Charles being a vampire, or Barack Obama controlling the weather (this one also has to get some traction). What they do publicly espouse is bad enough. And I am very willing to predict that there will indeed be a QAnon caucus in the House in 2021, which will include some veteran House idiots (step up, Matt Gaetz and Louis Gohmert). Moreover, I’d give even money that the 2024 GOP presidential candidate will at least give lip service to QAnon.
Mark my words. The GOP loves them some rabid right-wing lunatics, and the QAnon movement is tailor made for them. Or the GOP is tailor-made for QAnon. Hmmmm.
Update: Matt Gaetz is stepping up. He is ready to join the QAnon Caucus.
Music to my ears.
Proud to be in your corner, Marjorie! https://t.co/IgThrIOzst
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) August 13, 2020