Conspiracy theories are at the heart of much of what Trump’s base believes. Trump himself has spread countless baseless accusations based upon something he’s heard from one of these alt-right groups, often by re-tweeting something they’ve posted on his Twitter feed.
One of the most outlandish of these groups on the lunatic fringe is Q-Anon. This growing group of obviously mentally unbalanced individuals centers around the belief that there is a left wing, deep state cabal that is comprised of pedophiles, cannibals and Satan worshippers that has the sole aim of bringing down Donald Trump.
It began when someone posted on the alt-right website 4-chan about an alleged pedophile ring of Democrats that was abusing children in the basement of a DC pizza shop. As outlandish as this sounds, this became an issue in the 2016 election known as Pizzagate. An outgrowth of Wikileaks and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, the poster alleged this was further “evidence” of the evil that could result if she won the election.
And now you have Trump expressing his support for this collection of lunatics by saying, “These are people who love our country.”
Of course the key phrase in this is “our country”. Trump has made no secret that his administration is only interested in helping those who swear a loyalty oath to him, which is the same process Q-Anon adherents take to show their support. Indeed, former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and his family took such an oath and even posted it on the internet.
But, who is the “anon” in Q-Anon?
Allegedly, it is someone with deep ties to the administration. It is someone who has access to the inner workings of the daily workings of the White House, and therefore also has access to information that is normally hidden from the public.
Here are some possibilities:
While most in this administration come and go at Trump’s whim, the longest lasting is White House advisor Stephen Miller. With strong ties to the alt right and white supremacists, Miller has been the architect of some of the most vile policies associated with immigration. He was the proponent of separating families and even putting children in cages. He is an administration insider who has been a major part of Trump’s White House staff. This gives him access to a wealth of information that he can selectively leak to his alt-right compatriots to spread conspiracy theories that seem to be concocted out of thin air.
While Miller has no obvious future political aspirations, by providing Q-Anon with certain tidbits, Miller is promoting his White supremacist agenda.
The phrase “absolute power corrupts absolutely” comes to mind when Kushner is concerned. Without being elected, or even having to undergo Congressional scrutiny, Kushner is privy to the inner workings of the White House and undoubtedly has his own political aspirations beyond the current administration.
While he seems to greatly admire his father-in-law, he could be using his unique position to whisper any number of conspiracy theories in Trump’s ear while working behind the scenes to cement his own political future. Being younger, and presumably more mentally stable than Trump, Kushner could be using his position to undermine the very system of democracy Trump swore to uphold while seeing himself as the heir to Trump’s “legacy”.
Even now, Kushner is suspected of running a shadow presidency, especially where it concerns the allegations that he withheld the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic because he saw it as hurting states run by Democrats. This would surely appeal to Q-Anon followers who view Democrats as inherently evil.
Another possible source, and one who has also been accused of running a shadow presidency, Mike Pence has obvious political aspirations. It’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that Pence passed these outrageous claims on to Q-Anon, knowing Trump would embrace them, in order to portray himself as the “sane alternative” to the crazed rantings of Trump’s Twitter feed. What Pence failed to anticipate was the fervor of Trump’s base. Rather than see them as the wild claims of an unstable senior citizen, they accepted them, and indeed increased their public profile by supporting whatever Trump said.
Pence is no stranger to making outrageous claims himself. While Indiana governor, Pence supported using federal dollars for “gay conversion therapy”. If he hopes to have a shot at the White House, he will certainly do so without the support of the LBGTQ community.
As crazy as it sounds in this insane situation, it’s possible that the conspiracy theories of Q-Anon were initiated by Trump himself. It would not be the first time Trump used a shadowy source to promote himself. In 1991, Trump allegedly posed as a publicist named John Miller to brag about Trump’s accomplishments.
It has long been rumored that Trump sees being president as just another reality show. It was a claim echoed by former President Barack Obama in his recent DNC speech. Trump may view his tweets as curveballs in a reality show of his own making, unaware of the real world consequences of his actions.
Whatever the source, one thing is clear. The more people accept the trash spread by Q-Anon, the worse it will be for our democracy.