Most conspiracy theories start with existing concepts or events, then take elements of them into fantastical directions. This way, the people who create and believe these theories can use the real elements in them as “proof” the invented elements were also real—and that they were right all along.
Such a mingling of real and invention is at work in a concept becoming more popular with Trump supporters and QAnon promoters who believe former President Donald Trump rightfully won the 2020 election, not President Joe Biden. That idea is “Devolution”—an extremely complex emerging set of events based around a real concept, but full of invented details and wishful thinking. The theory takes the “stolen election” trope and tweaks it a bit, claiming that Trump won’t be “reinstated” as president, because he’s always been president, despite you having witnessed Biden’s “inauguration.”
Political devolution is a real thing. The term refers to the “devolving” of power from a central government to regional or state governments. The most well-known recent example of devolution was in the late 1990s, when the U.K.’s member nations held a series of votes moving power from London to governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
But that’s not the Trump-centric Devolution theory in the early stages of going viral in the stolen election and right-wing conspiracy world. That theory, compiled in a series of eight (and counting) Substack articles by the anonymous account Patel Patriot, is an almost incomprehensible secret operation where Trump appears to no longer be president, while still carrying out the duties of being the president, in order to expose the massive fraud of 2020. Trump, according to Patel Patriot in Part 4 of the series, “suspended the counting of the electoral college votes” sometime between Dec. 6 and Jan. 7, meaning that “he is still President, and we’re in a state of devolution at the moment.”
A Twitter account appearing to belong to Patel Patriot didn’t respond to Daily Dot’s request to ask additional questions about the theory. But Patel Patriot copied the request onto their Telegram channel, claimed that “Devolution is about to be debunked by the MSM,” and referred to this reporter as a “douche canoe.”
If Devolution were simply another version of the same impossible claims being made by other stolen election advocates, it wouldn’t be noteworthy. But Patel Patriot has almost instantly gained a social media following off it, while heavily crowdfunding his efforts through a growing Patreon page, all while emerging as a sought-after guest on Q social media outlets. As Q continues to flail without a leader and is ditching the branding it relied on, could Patel Patriot emerge as a new figurehead, one whose rhetoric isn’t based on racism or antisemitism, but on uncut hope for the future?
In doing so, Patel Patriot is taking some of the most mainstream elements of QAnon and rearranging them to create something new—a detailed plot to keep Trump in power based on real orders and real people, but pointing toward an impossible conclusion.
Patel Patriot’s theory goes down too many rabbit holes and tangents to easily categorize, adding layer after layer of irrelevant details to give itself the aura of being heavily researched. These details are also irrelevant because the plan that they revolve around has no validity. Spooled over rambling blog posts, it’s an unfollowable array of orders, claims, secret plans, court cases, and conspiracy theories.
Patel Patriot believes that Trump anticipated the deep state using China to steal the election from him, thanks to a defector revealing that COVID-19 was a bioweapon released on purpose to weaken the U.S. and allow for large scale mail-in ballot fraud. So Trump reorganized the Pentagon (which really did happen just after the election, for reasons that are still unclear) and signed a series of Presidential Executive Action Documents (real and classified orders to carry out in the event of a nuclear attack or large-scale disaster) in response. Through his secret actions, Trump essentially declared a hidden, low-intensity war against not only China, but also against antifa, which he also secretly designated as a domestic terrorist organization. And because the U.S. is in a declared war with China, according to the theory, Trump can use any power at his disposal to save the country.
Using a variety of disaster contingency plans developed in the event that COVID-19 sickened or killed the president and the majority of Congress (plans Newsweek revealed the existence of in April 2020), Trump secretly suspended elements of the Constitution, and the nation is now under a caretaker special operations military government being run by “former” acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Chris Miller and administered by regional commanders with enormous power.
That secret war is fighting to expose both China’s massive vote switching and the leftist infiltrators who “really” caused the Jan. 6 insurrection. And finally, once the ruse of Trump faking his loss and allowing Biden to pretend to be president has purged us of evil, the Arizona audits will reveal the truth, individual states will “decertify” their electoral results, and Trump will stride back into the Oval Office.
The point of all of it is that at some point between the election and now, the power of the United States government “devolved” to a closely held, un-elected military government administered at the state or regional level. It’s not classic devolution, since nobody took a vote or authorized these actions, which are likely illegal and unconstitutional. But in Patel Patriot’s version of devolution, legality means nothing. Only preserving Trump’s power matters.
Patel Patriot attempts to sum up the theory in Part 3 of the series:
- Trump prepares for election theft
- China colludes with Democrats to steal election
- Trump “caught them all” and prepares his countermove
- Massive personnel moves at DoD and pentagon to place Trump allies in key roles
- Implementation of what appears to be a Devolution plan for our Spec Ops
- Refusing to tell incoming Dems about said Spec Ops
The idea of Devolution being a secret Trump plot to restore his own power through a legal military coup didn’t entirely originate with Patel Patriot. In February, the prolific conspiracy theorist and “the planet’s only expert on World War I flamethrowers,” Thomas Wictor, posited an extremely similar theory on the discussion forum QuodVerum.
Wictor’s theory has the same broad strokes as Patel Patriot and might be an even more traditional version of devolution, writing that Trump temporarily seized power through the military and delegated it downward.
“Devolution is the U.S. military running the country under seven separate plans that are put into action when the civilian federal government ceases to exist,” Wictor wrote, referencing the Newsweek article, which Wictor believes was actually a strategic leak by Trump. “So I think we’re in a hybrid state of devolution AND a shadow presidency. The military is making NO policy decisions, and Trump is preserving national-security infrastructure.”
Both Wictor’s thread and Patel Patriot’s posts sound quite a bit like “The Storm” theorized by QAnon—a military purge of Donald Trump’s civilian enemies, carried out both secretly and publicly. Patel Patriot, for his part, claims to know nothing about Q, writing on Telegram he hasn’t “personally read” the Q drops but thinks that there are “many things between Q and Devolution that lines up.” And at a glance, Devolution is full of points that Q believers will be familiar with: Secret codes hidden in how words are spelled, cryptic social media posts, and a plan that constantly shifts in its tenets, but is always to be trusted.
It’s also not clear if Patel Patriot was familiar with the Wictor thread, though in a Telegram post from late June, Patel claimed he was banned from QuodVerum after one of the site’s founders doxed him and deleted his account. Either way, Patel Patriot’s theory has taken off in a way Wictor’s never did—particularly in the QAnon community. And it’s doing so over a much more mainstream platform, as Substack has become the publishing platform of choice for some of the biggest names in journalism, free of editorial oversight, and easily monetized through subscriptions, though the entire Devolution series is free so far.
His own Telegram channel has racked up over 33,000 subscribers since its establishment in late June, including over 8,000 in just the last week. Patel Patriot live streams “power hour discussions” on the inner workings of Devolution, has turned readings of the articles into videos, and has gotten friendly mentions on Telegram or interviews from major QAnon promoters like QTah, QAnon John, We The Media (who “HIGHLY recommends” the blog series), and X22 Report.
The theory was even written up in a blog post by major Q promoter David “Praying Medic” Hayes, who praised Patel Patriot for their “enormous amount of research.” With his profile growing, Patel Patriot announced recently he’d be speaking at the Q/health freedom “Patriot Double Down” event in October in Las Vegas, joining numerous other QAnon luminaries, including the potential creator of many of the Q drops themselves, Ron Watkins. And of course, the author recently established a merch store, selling Devolution t-shirts and mugs.
But the problem with doing an “enormous amount of research” is that if you start with a preconceived conclusion that’s not accurate, your research will only reinforce that error. And Devolution is indeed not accurate.
Patel Patriot goes off on wild tangents about antifa, the supposed defection of Chinese intelligence chief Dong Jingwei (an event that doesn’t appear to have taken place), access to some of the most secret documents in the American government, Biden’s economic policies, the Civil War, whether Mike Pence is a good guy or bad guy, and Dominion Voting Systems—but the posts never ask or answer simple questions about Devolution that would go a long way in determining how plausible this wild theory is.
Patel Patriot never addresses how such an unconstitutional mingling of the military and civilian government would work, or whether Biden believes that he is the actual president. At no point is it ever asked why the people around Biden are going along with the ruse.
You won’t find answers to simple questions in Devolution. The story offers no hard evidence that any of it is more than wishful thinking. It also contains a number of errors, including relying on the “Chinese defector” tale that doesn’t appear to have actually taken place, and a basic misunderstanding of how American laws work.
Ultimately, the real danger in Devolution isn’t the theory itself, because it’s entirely nonsensical and not rooted in the way anything works in the U.S. government. The danger lies in Patel Patriot’s ability to immediately gain a large following overnight with a hopeful and wild theory that instantly attracts prominent conspiracy theorists who desperately want to believe it. Or as Patel Patriot himself puts it in Part 7, “the beauty of my Devolution series becoming so popular is the fact that there are so many people adding bits and pieces that help complete the puzzle.”
Many other Trump-sphere media figures, like Mike Lindell and Sidney Powell, have spun wild theories of massive fraud and Trump being “reinstated” to office. But these were already people well known in the MAGA universe. Patel Patriot emerged simply because of this theory and is already building a fan base and an income stream because of it.
Like QAnon itself, Patel Patriot has willed himself into having an audience, by telling a nonsensical story full of wish fulfillment, enemies being exposed, and good prevailing over evil. It seems harmless now, but only because it’s so incomprehensible and implausible to outsiders. Like Q once was. Devolution provides comfort and hope to its believers—while baffling those on the outside. But the next story the self-made influencer tells could be far more compelling and plausible—while bringing with it the violence and chaos of QAnon.
This week’s top technology stories
|The anger and vitriol that led to Jan. 6 hasn’t dissipated—it’s percolating online more than ever|
|Why Lina Khan put the fear of god into big tech in 2021|
|Gettr, a so-called alternative to big tech, uses Google and Facebook trackers and has serious security flaws, investigation finds|
|Why hacktivism came roaring back in 2021|
|FCC chairwoman tells Republicans she won’t cave on net neutrality|
|Sign up to receive the Daily Dot’s Internet Insider newsletter for urgent news from the frontline of online.|