Welcome to our modern dystopia where believers in QAnon, a conspiracy theory, are running for elected office.
One such follower is congressional candidate Matthew Lusk, who is running unopposed for the Republican nomination in Florida’s fifth district, which is currently represented by Democrat Alfred Lawson. Speaking with the New York Times, Lusk said that he believes Q “brings what the fake news will not touch without slanting.” He even has a page on his website dedicated to the theory. The page, labeled Q, simply reads, “who is Q,” with the letter Q in large font.
Believers in QAnon subscribe to a collection of conspiracy theories about the “deep state” and believe that a person who goes by Q is a highly-ranked government official who posts clues about government corruption on online message boards. Followers often believe in Pizzagate — a theory that claims prominent Democrats were running a pedophile ring out of a D.C. pizza shop that led to a believer entering the business armed with an AR-15. And, they think that Trump was recruited to run for president by the military to break up a pedophile ring run by government officials. Believers also thought that Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation was merely a cover and that he was really going to arrest top Democrats in the pedophile ring and hold them at Guantanamo Bay. Some also think that John F. Kennedy Jr. is not actually dead but is alive and a Trump supporter. The FBI has labeled the group a domestic terrorism threat.
Lusk isn’t the only Q believer seeking political office. A San Juan Capistrano, Calif., city council member recently ended a speech about the “deep state” by saying, “God bless Q.” And Erin Cruz, Republican primary candidate in California’s 36th, also believes that Q is posting accurate information, telling NBC News, “I think that the biggest thing with QAnon is there’s information coming out. And sometimes it is in line with what’s going on in government. So when you ask me, do I know what QAnon is? Yes, but what is it to everybody else? That’s the bigger thing.”
In November, Lusk told NBC News that Q’s posts are “like an advanced news warning,” adding, “Like, it might come out in the mainstream media a week or two weeks later. So I think there’s a lot of inside sources, whoever this person is.”
Lusk told NBC he discovered QAnon through YouTube, saying he’s concerned about “globalization” and “powerful groups of people that are after world control in the West.” He doesn’t entirely subscribe to Q-related conspiracy theories like Pizzagate, though. “Do I think there’s powerful pedophiles out there? Yes,” Lusk said. “Is the ring like in the supreme control of what’s happening in globalization? No, I think they’re just like a fringe group within the power elite.”
But, he told the Times, “That being said, I do believe there is a group in Brussels, Belgium, that do eat aborted babies.”
Explaining the QAnon phenomenon, University of Miami political science professor Joseph Uscinski told the Times, “It’s more of a cult than other conspiracy theories. QAnon is not just an idea; it’s an ongoing thing that people can sort of get into and follow along with that keeps them entertained.”
President Trump has even dipped his toes in the QAnon pool, mentioning the “deep state” in tweets, retweeting supporters who refer to Q in their Twitter profile or retweeting tweets with hashtags like #FakeWhistleblower that were started by QAnon believers.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2019
“What’s different now is that there are people in power who are spreading this conspiracy theory,” University of California, Davis history professor Kathryn Olmsted told PBS Newshour of Trump’s promotion of the theory. “Finally, there is someone saying they’re not crazy.”