Supporters of President Donald Trump’s doomed effort to will himself to a second term, amped up by a day of rambling speeches and months of promises someone at some point would force Joe Biden to concede an election he won, rushed the Capitol yesterday, where the Electoral College certification was taking place.
All through it all, the fingerprints of the QAnon conspiracy cult were everywhere.
Supporters of the movement moved past the Capitol Police, smashed their way through tear gas and security, and violently invaded the Senate chamber and congressional offices, taking selfies and looting all the way. They sent members of Congress and the press fleeing into hiding, sending Vice President Mike Pence to an undisclosed location.
Q believers, who think that Trump is a hero fighting back on behalf of the people against satanic pedophile Democrats, have spent the two months since Trump lost the election creating an ever-expanding and more complex scenario in which he actually won, the rest of us just don’t know it yet. First came audits and recounts. Then there were endless conspiracy theories about CIA software and Chinese-made voting machines.
Anticipating a great event that would pay off their years of faith, Q believers swamped D.C. leading up to the congressional certification on Jan. 6. On the day of the actual event, Q slogans and flags could be seen everywhere, with Q merchandise on sale during the speeches that preceded the sacking of the Capitol. Front and center among the insurrectionists storming the Capitol were multiple Q believers. One man in a Q T-shirt scuffled with a Capitol security officer. Jake Angeli, the “Q Shaman” who shows up at Trump rallies in fur and facepaint shouting Q slogans, entered the House chamber. One group of rioters screamed “we are the news now,” a slogan coined by Q and used in multiple drops, or updates from the so-called Q, as they destroyed abandoned Associated Press camera equipment.
There’s no equivocating about it: The country only reached this point because of Q. Its mythology and conspiracies are steeped in this violent rhetoric. Seeing it play out was only a matter of time.
Multiple lawsuits over the past months cited “expertise” in voting machines from former 8kun administrator Ron Watkins as part of the vast conspiracy to steal the election, while the Q-pilled legal team marshaling the court effort to overthrow Biden’s election turned into social media superstars. The biggest was Lin Wood, the right-wing lawyer who gained social media infamy posting ludicrous conspiracy theories about Vice President Mike Pence being a traitor and Jeffrey Epstein faking his death.
Again and again, Q’s theories of an all-powerful deep state that did everything from unleash COVID-19 to make phony ballots were picked up by aggrieved Trumpists who breathlessly retweeted them and piled on their own theories. So while those unaware or dismissive of the violence and paranoia that infuses Q might have been surprised by what happened, people who have paid attention to it are not at all. Even as the riot was going on, Q promoters went on social media extolling the patriots who were ushering in “the Storm” and Trump’s inevitable victory.
This final victory was meant to begin with what Q believers had taken to calling the “Pence Card,” the misguided idea that the vice president was bestowed with magical powers to reject the certified election results upon opening them, and “kick it back to the states.” He didn’t and legally couldn’t. Despite objections from numerous Republicans, Pence signaled through a letter that he would do his job and accept the electoral votes without incident, codifying Biden’s win.
Q believers who had been content with kicking the can down the road over and over again weren’t going to take Pence’s refusal to throw the election to Trump lying down. Whether they got the news and exploded or had been planning to do this the entire time is still unclear.
But it doesn’t matter. QAnon has been pushing the theory that half the government is filed with treasonist Satanists who deserved to be killed. How, if you’ve been fed those lies for years, could you allow them to ascend to power? And at least one rioter photographed storming the Capitol had zip ties on them, with the implication that they were going in not to peacefully protest, but to detain members of Congress and hold them hostage.
That’s the exact message Q has preached.
But whatever the final instigator was, this was finally the moment that seemingly snapped the Q movement out of waiting for Q to bring deliverance, and into delivering it themselves. Tired of waiting for Q’s endlessly unfulfilled promise of “SOON” to become now, they did what extremism researchers have long feared would happen and took matters into their own hands. They stormed the Capitol and sacked it, all in the name of patriotism.
It was always going to end in something like this, because this is what the movement always wanted.
And while nothing that happened yesterday will stop Joe Biden from being inaugurated, like Q fans really want, the conspiracy was able to do what a no Nazi, Soviet, or even Confederate could not accomplish: Take the U.S. Capitol.