Monday, August 17, 2020


Jeet Heer has a theory about why QAnon rose to prominence:
QAnon is a byproduct of the Trump era and is likely to be part of his lasting legacy, long outliving his presidency. QAnon is best understood as a myth that helps Trump supporters reconcile themselves to his manifest flaws as a man and political leader. Trump thrives on negative partisanship, which requires that he be seen as preferable to his rivals. Given numerous reports of his sexual predations and corruption, the only way he can be acceptable is if his foes have committed the worst crimes imaginable.
I disagree. Right-wingers seemed to have had very little trouble reconciling themselves to Trump's sexual predations even in 2016, just as they've never had trouble with the multiple marriages of Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, and Rush Limbaugh (Limbaugh is also rumored to have engaged in sex tourism), and just as they admire Jim Jordan despite the fact that he's been accused of turning a blind eye to sexual abuse at Ohio State. (They don't have thoughts about Trump's corruption because it's never mentioned in the right-wing media bubble.) Even the most devout Christians among them don't need a convoluted conspiracy theory to make peace with Trump's sexual sins. He gave them the judges! And he fights for the faith they really believe in, which is Republicanism, and against what they consider the real devil, the Democratic Party. QAnon wasn't necessary to make them comfortable with Trump.

But it may be that QAnon is helping to keep them loyal to the Republican Party. Remember, prior to Trump, they'd just lived through eight years of Barack Obama, and many of them are old enough to remember living through eight years of Bill Clinton. They might have noticed that, on some level, things weren't all that bad in those sixteen years, even though they hated Obama and Clinton. Meanwhile, the Republican Party doesn't do much to make their day-to-day lives better -- sure, it fights for their guns (although Obama and Clinton never actually took them), and it opposes abortion and gays and non-whites and education and science, but all that, if you're a right-winger, is just preventing bad stuff from happening. What does the Republican Party do that's a positive good?

QAnon says: The leader of the Republican Party is hatching a secret plot to round all the pedophile cannibals in the world.

Wow! That's a good thing! It doesn't get anyone healthcare, or return good-paying jobs to rural America, or rid the country of opioids. But rounding up pedophile cannibals is still awesome!

I agree with Heer about this to some extent:
If we understand QAnon as a conciliatory myth that evolves to excuse the horrific truth about Trump and Trumpism, then it is likely to have a long life after he is defeated. It’ll become a Lost Cause myth about how a great man was felled by a sinister conspiracy.
But I think a Trump defeat would have led to a Lost Cause myth even without QAnon. Trump and his allies were talking about the sinister "Deep State" even before most of us had heard of QAnon. Trump was offering an excuse for his possible defeat from the very beginning of his term. The Deep State was all the conspiracy they would have needed to turn a defeated Trump into a martyr.

They love Trump because he hates us. He hates us more than Reagan or George W. Bush ever did. Hating us has long been the glue keeping the GOP coalition intact. It certainly isn't being held together by a record of accomplishment.

Trump's "Deep State" talk gave GOP voters even more reason to hate -- and then QAnon came along and said, They not only control the world, they also molest children and eat them. So they'll love Trump forever, even (or perhaps especially) in defeat -- but they would have even if the Deep State and the Democratic Party agenda were their only reasons for hating us.

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