Conspiracy theories are something that’s almost part of the human culture. We like to make up these fanatical ideas about how an event occurred. In fact, basically every major modern event has some conspiracy theory tied to it. Mostly it can just be harmless fun but there are those who actually believe these conspiracy theories. These people will generally form themselves into groups of people. They share and look at information that they believe proves their conspiracy. Many of these groups are harmless, but every now and then you get a group like QAnon.
What is QAnon?
The truth is, no one really knows. It was started on 4chan in late 2017, called “Q” in reference to the Q-level clearance the department of energy uses. Q, whether it is a singular person or a group of them, has focused on the inner happenings of the Trump presidency. This has spelled numerous and potentially dangerous false claims, such as that multiple Democrats and Hollywood actors are running a child sex trafficking organization. That Kim-Jong Un is a puppet dictator run by the CIA. That Angela Merkel is the granddaughter of Adolf Hitler. There was even one at the end of 2019 that popped up the claimed the President was dead.
Q has attracted a large following for a conspiracist, mainly thanks to its connections to the far right. It has infected itself into a certain part of the electorate for the GOP. At least three GOP candidates have either been nominated or advanced to a runoff that have shown some connections to QAnon. I’ll explain these three candidates and interpret their level of “Q-ness” to show you all what has happened in certain areas.
Lauren Boebert: CO-03 Nominee
The most recent and most newsworthy person on this list is Lauren Boebert. Boebert, who has gained some fame thanks to her upset over incumbent Scott Tipton in her primary, was always considered a further right candidate. Boebert owns a restaurant, “Shooter’s Grill”, that has all of its servers and workers open carry handguns. She also has positioned herself as part of the “anti-squad” and that she will “fight socialism” in Congress. This is not that unusual for a farther right candidate, but it became obvious that she had at some connections to QAnon.
Boebert was quoted in an interview about QAnon, “I hope that this is real because it only means America is getting stronger and better.” This comment sent alarm bells ringing throughout GOP circles once it was certain Boebert had won. “How could this happen, a solid incumbent loses to a crazed individual?” The incumbent however did fail to push back on air and was known for coasting through elections. That is part of this story that I feel has been looked over by some.
Since her victory, Boebert has also heavily distanced herself from the conspiracy theory. Her campaign manager came out and commented “We know exactly what we’re about and that’s the constitution and freedom. We are not into conspiracy theories.” This distancing is unlike what we’ve seen from candidates who are actual QAnon followers. While Boebert’s comment is concerning, she does not look like a believer or follower in the Q conspiracy to me. If Boebert continues down this route, it’s more proof she is not an actual follower of Q.
Marjorie Taylor Greene; GA-14 Candidate
Perhaps the more notorious house candidate who has ties to Q is Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene. Greene, who is running to replace Tom Graves in the 14th district, has much more solid ties to QAnon than Boebert.
While running, Greene was already considered to be to the right of her primary opponents, even in this heavily GOP district. Her connections to Q only enhance that fact. Greene has not just said one thing about Q, she has interacted, commented and praised Q as this great thing. Comments include from a 2017 video “Q is a patriot” and “something worth listening to and paying attention to.” She also commented on the same video, “He is someone that very much loves his country, and he’s on the same page as us, and he is very pro-Trump.” If these comments are her legitimate thoughts on Q, Greene clearly bought into the conspiracy.
This doesn’t even count the numerous interactions she has had with Q-linked accounts on Twitter and the posts she has dedicated to QAnon. This includes tweeting out phrases associated with Q such as #GreatAwakening and “Trust the plan” on her main Twitter page. She has also been found making Islamaphobic and racist comments on top of the Q stuff. She is not a cinch to be the nominee though, as she was forced into a runoff with John Cowan. Greene has also not done anything to distance herself from Q. She has claimed that these are all “false flag attacks” from major media corporations.
Greene is much more in tune with Q than Boebert and would be a legitimate supporter of the conspiracy in Congress if she wins her runoff. This is a problem that the GOP must stamp out. I would encourage them to put as much support behind Cowan as they possibly can.
Jo Rae Perkins; Oregon Senate
By far the most obtuse supporter of QAnon is luckily the one with no chance to win. That does not mean that Perkins is someone that the GOP should not be concerned about, however.
Oregon is not a state that the GOP will be competitive in statewide in 2020. Joe Biden will win the state handily and Jeff Merkley will beat Perkins by a larger margin that Biden will beat Trump by. At state level and congressional races though, the GOP is trying to make some moves. Their main target is southern and southwestern Oregon. With some old-school Democrats retiring in the state legislature, the GOP is looking at winning those seats. With a strong candidate in Oregon’s 4th district in Alek Skarlatos, the GOP is also looking to start making gains there. All a nominee like Perkins does is to hurt the GOP brand in a state where it has never been popular.
Perkins has been one of the most openly connected candidates to Q. Perkins has, according to her own comments, been following Q and believing in the conspiracy since 2018. When Perkins gave her victory speech online after the Oregon primary, she continually referenced Q and their “online warriors” as her greatest supporters. At the behest of her campaign manager, she took the video down and then proceeded to state that she “regretted that” on a radio interview a couple days later. Perkins has continued to support Q on her Twitter page and even took the “digital soldier oath”.
What Does the GOP Need to Do?
The simplest answer is track and look up any candidate that runs under your party banner. If they have connections to Q, make sure they can get nowhere close to victory. Whether that’s through soft support or getting better candidates in the seat, it’s not that hard of a task to do.
I am confident in my party’s ability to do this. This is especially due their quick reaction to Greene and many of her congressional endorsements leaving and instead endorsing Cowan. Every party must deal with a conspiracy branch, but we as a party have to beat it back now. Support for conspiracies, especially dangerous ones like QAnon, cannot become part of the GOP mainframe. Now is the time to make sure that never happens, so let’s get on the ball while we can.