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Lauren Witzke

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

The Republican Party's descent into the quagmire of far-right conspiracism deepened Tuesday night in Delaware when Lauren Witzke, a onetime QAnon cult promoter with ties to white nationalists, notably through her former campaign manager, won the Delaware GOP primary for a U.S. Senate seat.

Although she distanced herself in January from the QAnon cult—saying it was "more hype than substance," but in even more conspiratorial terms calling the conspiracy theories "mainstream psyops to get people to 'trust the plan' and not do anything"—her agenda remains deeply radical, including a 10-year moratorium on immigration that is rooted in the nativist/white nationalist radical right. She will face Democratic incumbent Sen. Chris Coons in the November general election.

A number of Republican nominees in 2020 are vying for congressional seats: In Oregon, Jo Rae Perkins, who has demanded that Trump declare martial law in her state, faces incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley in November. In Georgia, Republican nominee Marjorie Taylor Green, who has voiced support for QAnon but also distanced herself from the cult, appears to be a shoo-in to win the state's 14th congressional district. In Colorado, GOP nominee Lauren Bobert, who has inconsistently supported QAnon theories, is the nominee for the state's 3rd congressional district.

All told, some 23 Republicans who have voiced support for the cult will be on November's ballot. Many of them have later backed away from that support, while others—notably Perkins and Green—have doubled down on their supporWitzke shows off her QAnon t-shirt at a Delwar

As with most of the Republicans who have done so, Witzke's attempts to distance herself from QAnon have been at best half-hearted and unconvincing, largely because her previous support was so vocal and deeply connected to even more unseemly elements of the conspiracist far right.

Throughout most of 2019, she avidly tweeted out QAnon content, particularly the cult's "Where We Go One We Go All" slogan as the #WWG1WGA hashtag. She also was photographed wearing a QAnon shirt at a campaign event. She has moreover openly identified with the "America First" agenda, first touted by Donald Trump but now largely the purview of white nationalists.

Her former campaign manager, Michael Sisco, is even more problematic. Sisco, who has actively voiced support for supplanting American democracy with a monarchy, worked alongside Witzke in the GOP's Iowa field office as the campaign manager for congressional candidate Bobby Schilling until he was fired by the Schilling campaign for organizing an event in Bettendorf featuring white nationalist provocateur Nicholas Fuentes. Witzke then went on to hire Sisco, with whom she was reportedly also involved romantically.

Dylan Wheeler with Lauren Witke

Witzke poses with white nationalist Dylan Wheeler

During their work together in Iowa, Sisco and Witzke—who was involved with Trump's get-out-the-vote efforts in Iowa as a GOP field coordinator—assembled a number of events featuring anti-Semitic QAnon figure Dylan Wheeler, who has developed a massive social-media following by mixing QAnon conspiracism with classic white nationalist tropes, particularly the so-called "Jewish question."

Sisco appears to have departed the Witzke campaign sometime in early July.

Witzke herself has a long track record of dalliances and alliances with white nationalists. She has retweeted a pro-"Groyper" account, @GroypSC, which regularly posts racist and anti-Semitic content. In January, she followed a number of white nationalists on Twitter including Faith Goldy, Vincent Foxx, anti-Semite E. Michael Jones, Peter Brimelow, Nick Fuentes, Bronze Age Pervert, and Scott Greer, as well as designated hate groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform and RedIce, and an account that primarily regurgitates content from the white nationalist site American Renaissance.

Witzke's current list of figures she follows on Twitter has dropped most of these accounts, but still includes several "Groyper" accounts as well as an account dedicated to "helicopter rides" (a reference to the memes promoted by far-right street brawlers urging the revival of government techniques for eliminating political opponents lethally, first deployed by former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet), as well as white nationalist figure Lauren Southern.

She also has a long history of far-right radicalism. In April 2019, she took part in a rally at the Washington, D.C. Trump Hotel for the so-called "Deplorables Tour," and spoke at length to the audience, including her tale of recovery from addiction to heroin and methamphetamine. From that, she pivoted to ardent support for Trump's efforts to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

"There has been an assignment to wipe out my generation, but I will not stand by and let this continue. … Our God is a God of order. God establishes the borders of nations. Our nation is built on biblical principles. And there is an agenda for decades to dismantle the unity of our people and to provoke chaos," Witzke said.

"I know without a shadow of a doubt that the Lord anointed Donald J. Trump in times such as this to restore our nation into order," she added. "He has assigned this man to this position to re-establish the order of this country."

Trump speaking at Londonderry, NH rally

Screenshot from YouTube

Donald Trump once again baselessly claimed on Sunday that the COVID-19 pandemic was "going to be over" soon, just hours after his chief of staff suggested the administration was unable to get it under control.

"Now we have the best tests, and we are coming around, we're rounding the turn," Trump said at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire. "We have the vaccines, we have everything. We're rounding the turn. Even without the vaccines, we're rounding the turn, it's going to be over."

Trump has made similar claims on repeated occasions in the past, stating early on in the pandemic that the coronavirus would go away on its own, then with the return of warmer weather.

That has not happened: Over the past several weeks, multiple states have seen a surge in cases of COVID-19, with some places, including Utah, Texas, and Wisconsin, setting up overflow hospital units to accommodate the rapidly growing number of patients.

Hours earlier on Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows appeared to contradict Trump, telling CNN that there was no point in trying to curb the spread of the coronavirus because it was, for all intents and purposes, out of their control.

"We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas," he said. "Because it is a contagious virus, just like the flu."

Meadows doubled own on Monday, telling reporters, "We're going to defeat the virus; we're not going to control it."

"We will try to contain it as best we can, but if you look at the full context of what I was talking about, we need to make sure that we have therapeutics and vaccines, we may need to make sure that when people get sick, that, that they have the kind of therapies that the president of the United States had," he added.Public health experts, including those in Trump's own administration, have made it clear that there are two major things that could curb the pandemic's spread: mask wearing and social distancing.

But Trump has repeatedly undermined both, expressing doubt about the efficacy of masks and repeatedly ignoring social distancing and other safety rules — even when doing so violated local and state laws.

Trump, who recently recovered from COVID-19 himself, openly mocked a reporter on Friday for wearing a mask at the White House — which continues to be a hotspot for the virus and which was the location of a superspreader event late last month that led to dozens of cases. "He's got a mask on that's the largest mask I think I've ever seen. So I don't know if you can hear him," Trump said as his maskless staff laughed alongside him.

At the Manchester rally on Sunday, Trump also bragged of "unbelievable" crowd sizes at his mass campaign events. "There are thousands of people there," he claimed, before bashing former Vice President Joe Biden for holding socially distant campaign events that followed COVID safety protocols.

"They had 42 people," he said of a recent Biden campaign event featuring former President Barack Obama. "He drew flies, did you ever hear the expression?"

Last Monday, Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) endorsed Biden's approach to the pandemic as better than Trump's, without "any doubt."

"The more we go down the road resisting masks and distance and tracing and the things that the scientists are telling us, I think the more concerned I get about our management of the COVID situation," he told CNN.

In his final debate against Biden last Thursday, Trump was asked what his plan was to end the pandemic. His answer made it clear that, aside from waiting for a vaccine, he does not have one.

"There is a spike, there was a spike in Florida and it's now gone. There was a very big spike in Texas — it's now gone. There was a spike in Arizona, it is now gone. There are spikes and surges in other places — they will soon be gone," he boasted. "We have a vaccine that is ready and it will be announced within weeks and it's going to be delivered. We have Operation Warp Speed, which is the military is going to distribute the vaccine."

Experts have said a safe vaccine will likely not be ready until the end of the year at the earliest, and that most people will not be able to be vaccinated until next year.

Trump also bragged Sunday that he had been "congratulated by the heads of many countries on what we have been able to do," without laying out any other strategy for going forward.

Nationally, new cases set a single-day record this weekend, with roughly 84,000 people testing positive each day. More than 8.5 million Americans have now contracted the virus and about 225,000 have died.

Trump, by contrast, tweeted on Monday that he has "made tremendous progress" with the virus, while suggesting that it should be illegal for the media to report on it before the election.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.