The President claims the election has been stolen from him! All major media outlets have projected the contest for Joe Biden! Now seems like the perfect time for the “Q” behind the QAnon conspiracy theory — a supposed government insider feeding gibberish to a huge internet audience — to speak out.
But, alas, Q is nowhere to be found: The anonymous message board guru’s last post was nearly a week ago, hours before polls opened on Nov. 3. Q quoted the closing line from Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” and posted, of all things, a link to the soundtrack from the film “The Last Of The Mohicans.”
The anonymous poster, who claims to hold a high-level security clearance, has for years preached the gospel that a cabal of pedophiles in the “Deep State,” Democratic Party, Hollywood and elsewhere are secretly controlling the world. Donald Trump, Q has told believers, is leading a behind-the-scenes struggle to arrest and punish these sickos.
If ever was a time for an update, now would be it. And yet, nothing. So, in the silence, Q’s followers have had to come up with their own theories of the race.
Of course, they don’t accept that their savior, Donald Trump, has been defeated in his effort to secure a second term in the White House.
As the so-called “QAnon Congresswoman”-elect, Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), falsely asserted in a recent video, “the American people reelected President Trump. But Democrats want to steal this election with fake mail-in ballots, dead people voting, hidden vote-counting and rigged rules.”
The most prominent theory is quite easily debunked: The federal government has placed watermarks on valid ballots, the thinking goes, and soon Joe Biden’s victory will be revealed as a sham, when an audit of his state-level results shows that he’s been the beneficiary of fraudulent ballots.
The theory is an interpretation of a year’s old phrase from Q, “watch the waters,” but it doesn’t take long to fact-check it: Ballots are printed by an array of private companies for state and local clients, and watermarks aren’t a universal a security feature. (And also, widespread election fraud is a persistent but baseless myth.)
The theory has proved so persistent that Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and presidential candidate, said Friday that he’d heard a version of it four times.
I got this four times last evening. Very scary that this is spreading as though it is true. https://t.co/nG9dCZvgqc
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) November 6, 2020
But QAnon is less a singular belief system than a universe of believers — from holistic healers to armed-to-the-teeth “preppers” — and everyone has their own way of coping.
Two men with QAnon stickers on their vehicle, for example, were recently arrested for firearms violations near a Philadelphia vote-counting location. According to police and District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office, the men were each carrying pistols, and authorities recovered an AR-15-style rifle and ammunition from their silver Hummer.
“According to our information at this very early stage of investigation, it appears these individuals were operating under the belief that ‘fake ballots’ are being counted at the Convention Center — a completely unsupported claim — and that belief may have been what drew their attention to Philadelphia,” a spokesperson for Krasner’s office told CNN.
QAnon supporters have also been spotted at various pro-Trump protests around the country, which have been organized by conservative groups under the “Stop The Steal” banner.
As observers of the movement have noted, the media projections for Biden have thus far done little to sway QAnoners’ belief that Trump will in fact serve a second term in office.
“Another day of ‘Trump actually won a landslide and is only pretending he lost to expose the deep state’ dawns from the Q community,” conspiracy theory researcher Mike Rothschild noted on Twitter Sunday, pointing to various message board examples of Q-flavored denialism.
Another day of "Trump actually won a landslide and is only pretending he lost to expose the deep state" dawns from the Q community. pic.twitter.com/OEQP8R9UW6
— Mike Rothschild (@rothschildmd) November 8, 2020
Travis View, another chronicler of the conspiracy theory and co-host of the QAnon Anonymous podcast, pointed to a newsletter for Q adherents that, like others, recently reemphasized its faith in “the plan.”
“If in the worst case scenario the military does not come through, there are 70 million patriotic Americans that will not bend a knee to the deep state,” the missive read. “I do not think this will end in civil war. I think it will go according to ‘the plan.’”