Republicans have been dabbling with demonstrably false conspiracy theories for years now. Donald Trump rose to prominence among conservatives by insisting the President Obama was not born in Hawaii.
Fringe figures like Alex Jones have become powers in the conservative movement while spouting lunatic theories that Democrats were running a pedophile ring out of a DC pizza shop.
But for sheer off-the-charts psychosis, nothing tops the latest cult: QAnon. The conspiracy group has invented an alternate universe that makes Alice in Wonderland look like the Court of St. James.
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According to QAnon, Trump and Robert Mueller aren’t actually at odds, but are working behind the scenes to bring down a pedophile trafficking ring that apparently extends to such celebrities as Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
The group also insists that Hillary Clinton and liberal philanthropist George Soros are plotting to overthrow the government.
Democratic politicians have already been arrested and are wearing ankle bracelets tracking their every move.
QAnon started in the recesses of 4chan last fall, with a post from someone who identified himself only as Q, shorthand for a high-security clearance at the Department of Energy. Fevered followers began interpreting Q’s posts as clues that Trump actually had everything under control and that his enemies would be punished.
“Organizations and/or people that wish to do us harm during this time will be met with swift fury – certain laws have been pre-lifted to provide our great military the necessary authority to handle and conduct these operations (at home and abroad),” Q posted.
These events were supposed to take place last November 3 and 4. In case you missed it, they never happened. That hasn’t stopped the conspiracy cult from growing and, more recently, showing up at Trump rallies.
Of course, anti-LGBTQ beliefs go hand in hand with QAnon. One of its biggest boosters is Curt Schilling, the former baseball player, who lost his job as an ESPN announcer after posting transphobic remarks on Facebook.
The movement’s fixation on pedophilia also plays into the long-standing lies about gay men targeting children as sexual prey. It’s a short jump for believers in the falsehoods that is still promulgated by the religious right to the vast conspiracy that QAnon sees.
There’s no point in arguing with QAnon’s delusional followers because facts are unimportant to them. Like other cults, QAnon is a belief system impervious to reality.
It’s a bad sign for republicans – and for politics in general – that the party is now being swayed by lunatics. But you can’t say they didn’t see it coming. After all, look at the conspiracy theorist sitting in the Oval Office.