Under Trump, Republicans are the Party of QAnon
From the White House to the Statehouse, Dangerous Conspiracies are Being Amplified by the GOP
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | September 15, 2020
With less than 50 days until the general election and more than 200,000 Americans dead due to the coronavirus pandemic, the GOP has chosen to spew conspiracies and misinformation in the absence of any concrete policy proposals to address the crises facing the nation.
As with all things in the modern Republican Party, the disinformation started with the president. At a recent press conference,Trump refused to denounce QAnon when asked about the conspiratorial movement. Instead, Trump remarked that adherents to the QAnon conspiracy “love our country” and “like me very much.” This isn’t the first time Trump has given the nod to QAnon. During one afternoon in July, Trump retweeted posts from accounts supporting the QAnon movement 14 times. This is emblematic of a president who will embrace any type of extremist group as long as they follow the golden rule: loyalty to Trump.
This embrace of conspiracy theorists directly undermines the president’s alleged “law and order” campaign focus. The FBI has labeled QAnon a “potential domestic terrorist threat” and their members have been linked to numerous acts of violence since its inception in 2017.
Following the example set in the Oval Office, multiple members of the WA GOP have been voicing support for the QAnon conspiracy.
Rep. Jenny Graham, a Republican in the 6th legislative district, posted an article to her Facebook account on a website called “Vaccine Impact” back in December of 2019. “Vaccine Impact” has since become an unabashed QAnon conspiracy site, perpetuating some of the movement’s most bizarre claims. When asked about the post she doubled down, saying that “The trafficking is real, and sadly enough, so is the occult situation.”
Understanding the context for Graham’s irresponsible spreading of misinformation doesn’t exonerate her from dabbling in conspiracy theories: her original post was promoting the long debunked link between vaccines and autism — in the middle of a pandemic that can only end with widespread vaccination.
In another post earlier this year, Graham shared a video arguing that masks don’t work and hydroxychloroquine will cure the novel coronavirus — again repeating the same false talking points delivered by Trump from the White House briefing room. After these facts became public, Graham followed Trump’s lead and went on an unhinged tirade against the reporter who had written the original story.
While QAnon is a new phenomenon, conspiratorial thinking is nothing new to the WA GOP. Representative Matt Shea in the 4th legislative district has endorsed training children in an upcoming ‘holy war’ and has circulated an article claiming without evidence that Nancy Pelosi is planning a coup. Shea declined to seek reelection after being ousted from the Legislature’s Republican Caucas amid accusations of domestic terrorism, but his influence is clearly still widespread in Republican politics in Eastern Washington.
Matt Shea’s handpicked successor Rob Chase is attempting to win the State Representative’s seat in the 4th district. Following in Shea’s footsteps, Chase has also spread conspiracy theories to his followers on social media ranging from QAnon, to chemtrails, to the establishment of a “New World Order”. When asked where he receives this information from, Chase merely remarked: “Usually, people send me YouTubes.”
“The Washington GOP knows that their ideas no longer resonate with Washingtonians, so all they have left is baseless conspiracies to gin up fear among voters who they’ve spent decades convincing not to trust mainstream media,” said Tina Podlodowski, Chair of the Washington State Democratic Party. “But voters in Eastern Washington have better options than Republicans who spread misinformation during a pandemic: Democrats like Tom McGarry, Lori Feagan, and Lance Gurel who will deliver science-based policies to help working families get back on their feet and crush this virus so we can all safely go back to normal.”