By this point, almost everyone has heard of QAnon, the conspiracy spawned by an anonymous online poster of enigmatic prophecies. Starting with an initial promise in 2017 that Hillary Rodham Clinton would be imminently arrested, a broad group of interpreters divined a conspiracy that saw President Donald Trump’s Democratic opponents as a global cabal of Satanic pedophiles.
Perhaps the greatest success of the conspiracy is its ability to create a shared alternate reality, a reality that can dismiss everything from a decisive election to a deadly pandemic. The QAnon universe lives on – now largely through involvement in local, not national, Republican politics.
Moving on from contesting the election, the movement’s new focus is vaccines. The influence of QAnon on pandemic denialism is significant, though the spread of Q in local politics is a source of conflict in many states.
The conspiracy may have begun on an obscure web forum, but it is now influencing the Republican Party at all levels.
A recent Daily Kos/Civiqs poll found that 55% of Republicans believe some element of the conspiracy is true.
And in many parts of the country, QAnon supporters are winning elections. From local school boards to city councils, QAnon now has dozens of advocates at nearly every level of local government. While many of these positions hold sway far outside Washington, D.C., the breadth of this movement shows its influence is not likely to wane any time soon.
Not all Republicans are happy with this shift. In South Carolina, Indiana, Michigan and other states, Republican politics are fraught with tensions between QAnon supporters and more traditional conservatives.
For instance, in Indiana, local newspaper The Herald Bulletin published a story on March 21, 2021, headlined “Republican tug-o’-war: Factions vie for influence,” reporting that “QAnon believers … showed their support at the Indiana Statehouse in January, holding signs bearing the QAnon phrase ”#WWG1WGA” for ‘Where we go one, we go all.’” Kyle Hupfer, chair of the Indiana GOP, was quoted as saying, “I don’t think QAnon is part of the Republican Party. Leaders need to lead in a fact-based, solution-oriented manner and stick to the actual facts that are proven. Not opinions and not conspiracy theories.”
State GOP politicians have promoted QAnon in Arizona through social media posts, although one later apologized for doing so, saying, “Now I think half of them are rather nuts.” In January 2021, the Twitter account of the Republican Party of Hawaii tweeted a defense of QAnon believers. The account also defended a Holocaust denier. The official who posted the tweets was later forced to resign.
A similar confrontation has played out in Huntington Beach, California, where the appointed mayor pro tem – or vice mayor – inspired a vote of no confidence for supporting QAnon along with conspiracies against mask-wearing and vaccines.
Many QAnon proponents post-election have worked to reframe the COVID-19 vaccines not as the solution to a global pandemic but as an attempt by a cabal to control the minds of a hapless world.
Opposing mask mandates, vaccines and lockdowns have been effective campaigns for QAnon as it mobilizes anti-government sentiment common among the conservative base of the Republican Party. These efforts appear to be coalescing around bans on making vaccines mandatory.
Missouri’s Republican-led Senate recently voted to ban so-called vaccine passports, and Texas, Florida, Idaho and Utah have all passed similar legislation. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is asking for similar legislation. It is unclear to what extent these bans were influenced by QAnon. But they do echo the opposition to masks and vaccines that have shaped the conspiracy.
In California, a recall campaign against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has targeted his COVID-19 response. The campaign was initially organized by people affiliated with both right-wing militias and QAnon supporters.
Yotam Ophir, a communications scholar at the University at Buffalo, has studied QAnon. He told me that he doesn’t “see a reason to believe the conspiracy will go away anytime soon.”
Part of this is that QAnon has deep historical roots in a variety of other conspiracies, including a centuries-old anti-Semitic conspiracy of a blood libel. The flexibility of the conspiracy has also proved resilient within a shifting political landscape.
Perhaps the biggest threat posed by QAnon is articulated by Lindsay Schubiner, a program director at the Western States Center in Portland, Oregon, which works to support democracy and challenge white nationalism.
“Bigoted conspiracy theories like QAnon have an enormous influence on the context in which local government operates,” Schubiner told me. “Democratic governance is hard to achieve if we don’t live in a shared reality, and that’s as true on the local level as it is on the national level.”
—, Assistant Professor of the Practice in Anthropology, Vanderbilt University
Deirdre Rutledge says
As a liberal Democrat, I always respected other points of view, but this stuff is just insane. It’s brought out the worst in people, hate and ignorance is acceptable and even celebrated through these conspiracy theories that support those ideologies. I think if Trump (remember him?) just made one statement to his followers such as Q Anon has magically disappeared, and that people should take the Covid vaccine after all (I hear half of Republican men won’t) that not all news is fake news, this one person could make a huge difference to this country. Too bad he won’t do it, I can’t imagine him ever changing his tune although millions of people have suffered because of it, especially when it comes to Covid, and that will obviously continue from a sociopath.
I hope I can read an article at some point in the near future that demonstrates to ‘believers’ just how crazy this stuff is (although that could just be the demon sperm talking from Hollywood pedophiles). Conservative Republicans are going to ultimately regret this, because they’re losing credibility as a group, and they should.
If most people don’t get vaccinated we will never get herd immunity either, it’s so heartbreaking to think that the new normal is accepted as normal.
Rick G says
Its easy to believe this Q crap when you’re part of the cult.
California needs a new governor, so does NY. Be fair & honest about it, has either of those 2 done anything that’s being reported that uplifts the USA ? BLM antifa types are just as bad as Q. Extremists are extremists. Had the wrong decision come from the Chauvin trial, BLM was going to go do some serious rioting & looting. And as the chapter of George Floyd ended with Chauvin’s conviction, any other incident was spun by the media to be the next chapter of the cause, to perpetuate it all.
@”California needs a new governor, so does NY. Be fair & honest about it, has either of those 2 done anything that’s being reported that uplifts the USA ?…”
‘Blue State Bailouts’? Some States Send Billions More to Federal Government Than They Get Back
Eight states send far more to the federal government through taxes than they see in annual federal spending.
“…When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, expressed reluctance to fund coronavirus relief for hard-hit cities and states, suggesting they would be “blue state bailouts,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had a quick retort.
“We put into that pot $116 billion more than we take out,” Cuomo said. “Kentucky takes out $148 billion more than they put in.… Senator McConnell, who’s getting bailed out here?”…”
If you look at any successful professional – a salesperson, a marketer, a real estate agent, a trader – they all have the same qualities as the con man. The only difference is that one side uses their talents in the right direction and the con man is taking the easy way out.
— Frank Abagnale
Theres a 9 minute video that proves you wrong IMO
Ray W. says
Wow! 55% of poll respondents who self-identify as Republican tell pollsters they believe one or more elements of a theory about a conspiracy among Democratic opponents to President Trump being part of a global cabal of Satanic pedophiles. Does this mean that, as Trump managed to unite almost every Democrat into a national effort to oppose him, the cabal believers think that a significant percentage of 81 million voters are part of the global cabal, exclusive of the international members? If so, that would make for a pretty big cabal, as cabals go. Or do the believers self-limit cabal membership to only those big-name Democratic Trump opponents who come to their minds as they share QAnon postings, like little children distracted by shiny objects? Oooh, a new Democrat just got elected! She says Trump had to go! She must be a Satanic child molesting international jet-setter!
I suspect this Satanic cabal conspiracy theory will have long legs among the new version of the Republican faithful. After all, even Trump commented in 2016 about Vince Foster’s 1993 suicide as being “very fishy.” Some things just never go away. Wittgenstein was right: One of the most difficult things in life is to not fool oneself. I struggle with the idea that I am just not 18 years old anymore. A minor delusion, it seems, among the pantheon of wild ideas swallowed whole by the undiscerning MAGA crowd.
Charlie Ericksen Jr says
We certainly need to be concerned , and listen , when 1,300 folks were surveyed.. WOW ..Woops, probably includes , many College “Professors ” and other experts..
What’s next a survey of the local High Schools..to see who pays their college costs..
Heywood Jablomi says
Who said the golden age of political buffoonery is dead?
It’s just so weird and sad, how some republicans and mostly trump cult followers, are so easy to believe this Qanon BS.
But then again, they believed all the BS that trump vomited.
It’s sad and disturbing at the same time. Hopefully one day these cult followers will snap out of it and come to their senses.
From what I can see, it’s a problem in the whole state of Florida…this coming from a native…the political climate is ridiculous…
I see quite a few people ready to lambast people for being deceived by Qanon. Here are some things to consider. Over half of the population of the US has an IQ of 100 or lower. That means most Americans are midwits to dimwits. When you compound that information with how Qanon actually operated, you’d soon understand why people actually believed that bs. The way Qanon operated was by making “predictions” or “announcing future events” so to speak. Of which, many, many, many things came to fruition. Now, those predictions were made to come true no matter what. This was accomplished by being extremely vague and broad, allowing people to draw lines between nonsensical dots.
This technique is very efficient at tricking gullible people.
And, a lot of the Qanon conspiracy theories out there can’t even be attributed to actual Qanon postings. Qanon never made posts about satanism or lizard people or anything insane of the sort. That would be too specific. There are massive Qanon compilations out there and are worth studying to see exactly how and why people could be deceived.
Further, you’ll never win over any Qanon by dismissing them as deluded and insane. Ask any psychologist. The only way to get through to difficult people is to not just understand where they’re coming from, but to display a willingness to understand them and a willingness to discuss with them. Instead, families are crumbling, animosity is flaring, and this country is becoming very divided.
Just a thought says
And they call democrats sheep. The people that follow Trump and Qanon are the true sheep. Blindly following a ideology is truly the definition of sheep. Have a mind of your own. Trump did some good things for our country but he also did some abhorrent things. No different than any other president.
What they say and believe is laughable and pathetic
Bill C says
Here’s a more realistic moniker- Qmoron