Everyone keeps telling me I need to move on. But I don’t think I can, nor do I think the conservative movement can.
For the past four years, a largely anonymous group on the internet has been seeding a global conspiracy that claimed an international group of child sex traffickers was scheming with the American political deep state and former President Donald Trump intended to destroy it as God’s chosen.
When the Capitol was stormed on Jan. 6, 2021, people were carrying signs about saving the children. People went looking not just for members of Congress they thought were complicit in stealing election but also for those they thought were complicit in a globally coordinated human trafficking ring.
Over the last two weeks, QAnon voices have insisted Trump would remain President. Rumors spread that the President and military would work together to round up the bad guys. Some said the President would allow President Joe Biden’s inauguration to go forward and then storm Washington with soldiers after all the bad guys had exposed themselves.
Elderly Americans, fueled by internet gossip, were filling up bathtubs with water to protect from coming power outages. My sister’s neighbor in Tennessee was telling the neighborhood to stock up with food. A listener in Atlanta said his mother was withdrawing large sums from the bank for when Trump shut them all down. A pastor called me concerned with members of his congregation sending him things that seemed very off. They were conspiracy theories related the President derived from QAnon. This is far more pervasive than I thought, and it has seeped into the conservative movement.
North Georgia voters elected a congresswoman who thought a school shooting was a false flag, 9/11 was an inside job and who believed the QAnon nonsense. Last week, driving to Atlanta, I passed two vehicles. One had a Q sticker, and another had a homemade sticker reading “WWG1WGA,” which is a QAnon slogan for, “Where We Go One, We Go All.”
Hosts on news outlets and talk radio promised krakens, a coming storm, and told people to trust the plan. A mob stormed the Capitol looking to hang former Vice President Mike Pence as a traitor on the words of QAnon anonymous accounts and Trump’s claims of betrayal. A group of conservatives requested Republicans in Congress reject the Electoral College votes from several states and instead allow state legislatures to replace those votes. Just ask yourself what the conservative reaction would have been had Biden done that.
The conservative movement cannot get back on its feet unless there is an accounting for this stuff. The conservative movement needs to clean itself up. This is not something for the outside, the media, the left or any one person. The left wants to purge anyone from polite society who supported Trump. This is unacceptable and as authoritarian as the left claimed Trump was. But conservatives need to deal with this lunacy in-house.
There has been a sustained effort to lie to Americans and, in particular, conservatives and Trump supporters. Many so internalized it that they thought God would grant a miracle last week and keep Trump as President. Some still think he is coming back. One QAnon adherent, on a chat board, speculated that, like Jesus, Trump would return in three days. More than one pastor has told his congregation that Trump would remain as President because God willed it.
None of what was predicted was true. Goal posts kept being moved. People kept getting angrier. Some in the conservative movement tried to harness or direct the anger and energy. It all turned out badly on Jan. 6, and now no one wants to make eye contact with what happened.
A political movement this unhealthy and this wedded to lie cannot and should not survive. There must be an internal accounting within the conservative movement, and the people who pushed the kraken nonsense and the QAnon nonsense need to repent. We conservatives must clean up our own house, or the voters will do it for us.
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