By Matthew Rosenberg
QAnon scored his first national political victory on November 3 when Marjorie Taylor Greene, a supporter of the convoluted pro-Trump conspiracy theory, won a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, leading to the halls of Congress a movement in line that has inspired violence in the real world and has been classified as a potential threat of domestic terrorism by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Greene was among at least a dozen Republican congressional candidates – some estimates put the figure at 20 – who had expressed some degree of support for QAnon and his unfounded belief that President Trump is fighting a cabal of Satanic Democrats who abuse the children and deep-state bureaucrats seeking world domination. Most were running for reliable Democratic seats.RELATED
Greene’s victory was expected – he was running unopposed in one of the most conservative districts in the country – as were the defeats of most of the other candidates linked to QAnon. None of the results altered what has already become evident inside and outside the Republican Party: This is the year that conspiracy theories, notably QAnon, gained a new foothold in the party.
The influx of candidates linked to QAnon was just the most prominent example of how a phenomenon that started on the fringes of the internet infested with trolls had moved off the web and into American political life, facilitated by Trump himself, by adhering to theories. conspiracy and his continued persecution of the traditional political system. The question now is whether the election represents the beginning of QAnon’s political rise or his timing covers it. Much will depend on how Trump fares.
A Trump victory would be an unreserved blessing “that could add to the ranks of QAnon supporters,” said Travis View, who hosts QAnon Anonymous, a podcast that seeks to explain the movement.
A defeat for Trump would be more complicated. QAnon has proven to be incredibly elastic, absorbing old conspiracy theories and bouncing back after one or another of his predictions didn’t materialize. If anything, QAnon supporters may see a victory for former Vice President Joe Biden as proof that the Deep State is so powerful that it managed to topple a president.
At the same time, few anticipate that Trump, freed from any limitation of office, will do anything to placate such a discourse, although the rest of the party’s leaders may no longer be willing to sit still while he makes wild claims or allows theories of conspiracy.
“You can’t be a successful national party and simultaneously sell conspiracy theories,” Alex Conant, a Republican consultant who has overseen communication strategy in presidential and Senate campaigns, said in an interview.
QAnon’s future will depend on how deeply the movement has seeped into the party, and whether the mainstream Republican can win back adherents of the conspiracy theory, which is by no means a certainty. The move is blatantly pro-Trump, portraying the president as some kind of god-emperor and portraying the traveling Republican guard as only slightly better than the Democrats.
While it’s difficult to pinpoint how many Republican voters feel this way, there is growing evidence that QAnon supporters constitute a small but significant minority within the party. The movement’s growth has accelerated since the start of the pandemic and, in a recent YouGov poll, half of Trump supporters surveyed said they thought powerful Democrats were involved in elite circles of child sex trafficking, a basic principle of QAnon.
Trump has done little to discourage QAnon supporters. He has described QAnon supporters – several of whom have been charged with murder, domestic terrorism or planned kidnapping – as “people who love our country.” His sons have posted conspiracy theory messages on social media, and his advisers have made thinly disguised appeals to his followers. The most recent came last week, when Stephen Miller, one of Trump’s top advisers, claimed without evidence that Biden would “incentivize” child trafficking if elected.
“The president has given him oxygen,” said Brendan Buck, a former councilor to the last two Republican House presidents, Paul D. Ryan and John A. Boehner. “He has had many opportunities to silence him and he has chosen not to.”
Beyond Trump’s circle, most Republican leaders have done little to stop the spread of QAnon in their ranks. If anything, some party leaders, desperate to maintain their control in the Senate and lose no more ground in the House, have at times quietly consented to QAnon’s rise.
Lauren Boebert, a Colorado House candidate who made approving remarks about QAnon before distancing herself from the movement, defeated a five-term Republican incumbent in a primary in June. On Tuesday night, he faced close competition on Tuesday night.
Angela Stanton-King, who was expected to lose her election to a House seat in a heavily Democratic Atlanta district, repeatedly posted QAnon content and obscure hashtags such as #TrustThePlan, yet attracted campaign contributions from the National Committee. Republican and Republican Party of Georgia. Jo Rae Perkins, a Republican Senate candidate in Oregon, declared in May, “I’m with Q and the team,” and later posted a video in which she took what is known as an oath to QAnon’s digital soldiers. Similarly, it was expected to be defeated.
Among the other candidates expected to lose on November 3 were contenders like Mike Cargile, who was one of several Republicans linked to QAnon who challenged incumbent Democrats in California for the House seats. His Twitter bio includes the hashtag # WWG1WGA, a shortened version of QAnon’s motto: “Where We Go One We Go All” [Donde vamos uno vamos todos].
Elsewhere, Ron Weber, a West Point graduate and attorney in Ohio who beat three other contenders in an elementary school and has shared QAnon labels and Conspiracy theories through his social networks, he lost his election on Tuesday.
But it is Greene, the victorious candidate in Georgia, whose candidacy has exemplified the party’s difficulties in handling its QAnon problem. Now that it is heading to Congress, the party must decide what to do with it.
“I think it will start with little leeway,” Buck said.
Still, he added, there is a fundamental problem: “There is no leadership in the party, a traditional current, in the way it used to exist”, and thus “the members of Congress have realized that there is an open playing field to be whoever you want if you can get care for yourself. “
Greene, who owns a construction company, has called QAnon “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take out this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles.” He has also made disparaging comments about blacks, Jews, and Muslims.
Almost all Republicans elected in Georgia’s 14th congressional district, where Greene was running for a House seat, lined up to oppose her after she defeated eight other candidates in the June primaries and forced a second. return.
But not everyone in the party was so unwelcoming. Trump posted a congratulatory tweet after Greene’s good performance in June, and two of his most prominent supporters supported him: Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows, the former congressman who is now the White House chief of staff.
The objections of the others seemed to fade after Greene won the second round in August. California Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, said a committee would be appointed if elected. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed by the governor last December and is seeking a full term in a special election in Georgia, immediately accepted Greene’s endorsement.
For his part, Greene has recently tried to distance himself from his more controversial views. When asked about QAnon in an interview on Fox News, he said he had chosen another path. Also tweeted that he had now accepted that the Pentagon had been hit by a hijacked plane on September 11, 2001, not by a missile.
But he added: “The problem is that our government lies to us so much to protect the deep state, that sometimes it is difficult to know what is real and what is not.”