Trump threatens QAnon and we should all be terrified

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Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

I didn’t think it was possible, but Donald Trump is more dangerous than ever.

Last week, he warned America that if he is indicted, we would face “problems…we may never have seen.” For a man who has already caused a violent riot over his defeat in the 2020 election, a veiled threat of violence (nice democracy there – if you can keep it!) cannot be dismissed as mere toothless bluff.

But it gets (arguably) worse: Trump has gone completely QAnon.

Last Tuesday, Trump reposted a photo of himself on his social media platform Truth Social with a Q-pin bearing the words “The Storm is Rising.” As the The Bharat Express News explains, “In QAnon lore, the ‘storm’ refers to Trump’s eventual victory, when he will supposedly regain power and his opponents will be tried, and possibly executed, on live television.”

Trump has completely disappeared from QAnon. There’s no point in denying it anymore.

Then, at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio, this weekend, Trump’s campaign played a song eerily similar to the QAnon song “Wwg1wga,” short for the QAnon slogan, “Where we go one, we all go.” As Trump spoke, members of the crowd raised outstretched arms and forefingers in an apparent reference to “one.” For many, the visualyou really have to see it— called out the Nazi salute. I’ll stop and just say it was weird and disturbing.

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To be sure, Trump has long flirted with QAnon, once saying (regarding their obsession with exposing pedophile cults run by Democrats and Hollywood celebrities), “Must that be a bad thing?”

To answer his question: Yes-when you falsely accuse innocent people who also happen to be your political rivals.

As we saw in the case of the Proud Boys (“Stand back and stand by!”), Trump will never criticize or alienate even the most fringe elements of his loyal fan base. Still, something new is going on, and it’s worth wondering why Trump has suddenly ramped up his reach to QAnon.

These two recent developments — Trump’s veiled threat of violence if indicted, and his open embrace of QAnon — are not isolated.

Trump feels threatened – by potential political rivals and by law enforcement. And during his time of need, an army of Q supporters gives him both emotional support and leverage (in the form of potential ground troops).

In recent months, you may have heard the theory that an injured Vladimir Putin is more desperate to save face now that Ukraine has embarrassed Russia’s attempt to take over the country. Whether this is a reasonable analysis about the danger of humiliating a narcissist with nuclear weapons, or a rationalization for reconciliation, the cornered animal metaphor rings true.

Trump feels he is in danger of losing his grip (and perhaps his freedom). Like the coward who bows and roars to avoid a real physical confrontation, Trump wants to remind everyone that he has a mob (both in person and online), and they’d be angry if he’s ever held accountable for his actions.

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Multitudes of blindly loyal supporters have always been a powerful weapon in the hands of a skilled demagogue, but Q fans are potentially more dangerous because of their willingness to embrace delusional conspiracy theories — and their resilience.

It’s amazing that the Q movement still exists. His perseverance parallels Trump’s political survival. Trump lost the popular vote in 2016, both houses of Congress in the subsequent midterm elections and the presidency in 2020 — and yet he remains popular among Republicans. Like chronic bad breath, it just won’t go away.

Likewise, QAnon prophecies about Pizzagate, Trump’s re-election in 2020, the return of JFK, Jr., etc., have all been debunked as nonsense.

And yet… Trump’s tendency to lose elections has not undermined his image as a winner (among his flock), any more than exposed quackery can shake the faith of the doomsday cult members.

This explains why QAnon supporters and hardcore MAGA supporters are not giving up on Trump. But at this point, it’s worth asking any remaining Trump enablers who aren’t drinking his Kool-Aid if they’re ready to head for the exits. After all, when Team Normal rationalized Trump’s support as “the lesser of two evils,” they couldn’t have negotiated any of this.

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To my MAGA aunt: you should have seen the January 6 hearings

My guess is that anyone who has already been willing to take the Admission to Hollywood video, the Muslim ban, Charlottesville, the big lie, Stop The Steal, and the January 6 Capitol riot may not heed my warnings. Still, every now and then it’s worth asking if they’re finally ready to jump off the Trump family’s truck star?

For my Republican friends who hate Trump but voted for him twice, your reflexive response might be, “But critical race theory!” or “But AOC!”

I get it. I am also concerned about the excesses of the left. But are you able to say that what Trump is doing goes beyond politics and essentially harms our nation?

I know there are many legitimate political policy issues and problems in America. Immigration, for example, is a political issue. Inflation is a political problem. CRT is a political issue. But threatening violence and embracing a conspiracy theory does not qualify as a political issue. Hell, this isn’t even just a problem. This is just crazy– and very dangerous.

With apologies to Sinéad O’Connor (and Prince), nothing compares to Q.

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