QAnon Candidates Keep Winning Primaries, Because There's No Such Thing As 'Too Fringe' For The Right
Once upon a time, what seems like so very many years ago but was really only six years ago, there was an influx of tricorn-hat-wearing dentists successfully primarying longtime GOP seat-holders in districts across the country. Now there's a new type of Republican kook in town, and it is the QAnon candidate. The candidate that holds the totally normal belief that Donald Trump is secretly waging a war against Satanic deep state pedophiles led by Hillary Clinton and various Hollywood celebs, and an anonymous insider is sending them special clues about it on 8kun. We've had several of them so far, including Jo Rae Perkins in Oregon and Marjorie Taylor Greene in Georgia.
And now we've got Lauren Boebert in Colorado, who has voiced support for "Q" without getting into specifics and who just unseated five-term Rep. Scott Tipton in the Republican primary.
"Everything that I've heard of Q, I hope that this is real, because it only means America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values, and that's what I am for," she said. "And so everything that I have heard of this movement is only motivating and encouraging and bringing people together stronger, and if this is real, then it could be really great for our country."
Boebert's assertion that QAnon means that people are returning to conservative values is not wrong. Accusing people of witchcraft or of being evil Satanists is a storied conservative tradition. What is a better example of true American conservatism than the Salem Witch Trials? It's so on-the-nose that they were even used as an allegory for McCarthyism — another treasured conservative tradition — in Arthur Miller's The Crucible. And who among us can forget the Satanic Panic of the '80s and '90s?
In addition to the Q stuff, Boebert has claimed that if taking hydroxychloroquine was a bad idea "the media" would encourage Trump to take it so that he would die. This would make total sense if we were sociopaths who wanted anyone to die or were so eager for Trump to die that we would endanger the lives of millions of people across the country by telling them that a thing that is not safe for them to take is safe. If we were that cruel, why would we hate Trump?
With the way the media hates President Trump, if taking hydroxychloroquine was truly bad for him, they’d be encoura… https://t.co/6dWD2bSyzQ— Lauren Boebert (@Lauren Boebert) 1589968947.0
Running kooks like Boebert for "safe" Republican seats like Rep. Scott Tipton's is a thing that, historically, works really well for Republicans. The more fringe candidates they get into the House — or even just running in elections, regardless of whether or not they win — the more the Overton Window moves to the Right. Anything less "radical" than "believes in a bizarre conspiracy theory involving trafficking children to kill them and harvest their adrenal glands in order to get high off the oxidized epinephrine, and then cutting off their faces in order to wear them around like a mask" becomes a totally reasonable position that can be worked with.
It's almost like QAnon itself — bombard people with a ton of wacky shit and it all starts to seem, well, a little less wacky. It's a long game.
Boebert, who handily won her primary challenge against incumbent Tipton this week, is the owner of Shooter's Grill in Rifle, Colorado — which appears to be kind of like Hooter's, except that the sexy waitresses have guns strapped to their hips.
Notably, Boebert refused to obey a cease-and-desist order to keep the restaurant closed during the pandemic, stating that the deadly virus "does not justify the economic suicide that is taking place." Who cares if a few people die so long as she turns a profit, right?
While Boebert's support of QAnon is vague and lip-servicey — and suggests that she is not totally clear on what it is even about — that should actually raise more red flags than if she supported it outright. Paying lip service to QAnon being real as a campaign tactic means that it's moving from a "fringe" belief to the kind of thing we can expect to see Republican candidates at least nodding to in the future. It means it's being normalized on the Right, and will continue to be normalized until it's no longer useful, after which it will go right into the pile of "Stuff Republicans Did That No Longer Counts As Stuff Republicans Did Because They Don't Actually Have Any Sense Of Object Permanence" next to the tricorn hats, the freedom fries, and the Iraq War.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse