When Democratic now-President Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election — defeating Republican then-President Donald Trump by more than seven million in the popular vote and picking up 306 electoral votes — critics of QAnon hoped that the far-right conspiracy movement would go away. But that didn’t happen. Just as Trump himself has maintained a level of influence that is unusual for ex-presidents, QAnon is still going strong almost 19 months into Biden’s presidency. Moreover, the extremist movement, according to New Republic reporter Melissa Gira Grant, is making a concerted effort to increase its influence via the 2022 midterms.
“A movement we were told would collapse without (Trump) has gone mainstream in Republican politics, and now boasts the support of more than 20 candidates running for federal or statewide office who will appear on the ballot this November,” Grant reports in an article published by The New Republic on August 18. “As many as 18 QAnon-supporting candidates for Congress will compete in November’s general election, with two QAnon-supporting gubernatorial candidates and two QAnon-supporting candidates for secretary of state, based on analyses from Grid and Media Matters. Including people who lost their primaries, QAnon candidates made the ballot in 26 states in the 2022 elections, and they have raised more than $20 million.”
To understand why Grant finds QAnon’s ongoing influence on the Republican Party so troubling, one needs to be familiar with some of the conspiracy theories that the cult has promoted. QAnon believes that the United States’ federal government has been hijacked by a sinister international cabal of child sex traffickers, pedophiles, satanists and cannibals and that Trump was elected president in 2016 in order to fight the cabal. Some conservative Republicans have had enough integrity to call out QAnon’s views as total nonsense, including Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. But many other Republicans have avoided criticizing QAnon, as they fear that doing so might offend Trump.
“Some of the names of QAnon-adjacent congressional candidates will be familiar, such as Republican incumbents Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, both considered long shots in 2020 whose first week in office included the January 6 assault on the Capitol by some of their own supporters, and who January 6 rally organizers allege met with them as part of their efforts to keep Trump in office — an allegation Boebert has denied,” Grant explains. “They are joined by newcomers like Republican Rep. Mayra Flores of Texas, who spread conspiracy theories that January 6 was ‘surely caused by infiltrators,’ and is currently serving in Congress after winning a special election this past spring.”
Grant continues, “There’s also Ohio Republican congressional candidate J.R. Majewski who was present at the Capitol on January 6 and boasted of helping get Trump supporters there, that has a chance at prevailing in a toss-up race. Like Greene and Boebert, Flores and Majewski are on record affirming support for QAnon — ‘I believe in everything that’s been put out from Q,’ Majewski said in 2021 — and both have tried to mislead reporters when questioned about their support for QAnon, denying or disavowing their past statements even as they still advance some core QAnon missions, such as casting doubt on the results of the 2020 election.”
QAnon have been major promotors of the Big Lie, the debunked conspiracy theory that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump through widespread voter fraud. And QAnon supporters were among the extremists who attacked the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in the hope of preventing Congress from certifying Biden’s Electoral College victory. QAnon supporter Jacob Chansley, dubbed the QAnon Shaman, is now serving a 41-month sentence in federal prison for his role in the attack on the Capitol Building.
“The dangers in this core belief in a stolen election becomes even more evident at the state-level, where QAnon-supporting candidates may be elected into positions with critical roles in the 2024 election, as part of a strategy led by QAnon influencers beginning in 2021,” Grant observes. “They have scored two supportive Republican candidates for governor, Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania and Dan Cox in Maryland, and two for secretary of state, Republicans Jim Marchant in Nevada and Mark Finchem in Arizona. Mastriano and Cox both attended a QAnon conference in April 2022, ‘Patriots Arise,’ at which the opening speaker claimed that ‘child satanic trafficking’ existed and that he would ‘not stop until these people’ — the alleged traffickers — ‘are dead and in boxes in the ground.’ After Mastriano pitched himself to the crowd as the one who God would help win — and that what he would do to the state of Pennsylvania would make Florida look like ‘amateur hour’ — organizers presented him with a sword to ‘bless him.’”
Reprinted with permission from Alternet