Pearl River The gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson used to have a patented expression as he wrote about everything from Las Vegas to political conventions. He would write, “…and then it got weird” in his fear-and-loathing reports. One thing we can truly say about this election season is that it has absolutely gotten weird.
This whole QAnon conspiracy theory coming out of the dark corners of the internet and pushed along by social media (thanks again, Facebook!) and nudged along by the president qualifies solidly on the bizarre spectrum. The takeaway seems to be some kind of top level, elite group of generals and politicians who are trying to foment this dastardly activity. QAnon proponents hold that President Trump is the only hope of stopping this terrible mess, giving the narcissistic Trump the opportunistic talking point that he doesn’t know anything about QAnon, but he likes the fact that he is the superman who is saving the day. People are showing up at his airplane hanger rallies with Q shirts. A score of Republican candidates both in down ballot races all the way to Congressional contests are committed to QAnon.
Combine QAnon with the Trump-manufactured arguments that the election is a “scam,” that mail ballots are worthless, except in Florida, and that the whole election is going to be decided either by his personally packed Supreme Court or by a lame duck Congress, and you have total mayhem cooking on the front burner. Rightwing militia groups, armed and dangerous, are suiting up to try and step in to prevent some kind of antifa and leftwing baddies from fomenting revolt.
Meanwhile the more sober citizens of the Republican party are trying to tamp down all of this mayhem. Rightly they fear it will retard their vote. On the one hand people may not bother to vote if they think their mail ballots won’t be counted or that polling places may be battlefields featuring both guns and the coronavirus.
On the left, Trump has tongues clucking over his threats not to abide by the election results. Some are war-gaming scenarios about how Trump might try to dig in and stay in office even while losing the election. There are arguments within the military about what to do or not to do if they are given an order to act for Trump to allow him to stay in office, while others remind them their oath is to the Constitution, not to the president, and they would have to act to remove him.
A conspiracy on the left, sober citizens should caution, will also retard the progressive vote at a time that we need every vote we can muster. The last thing we need is for some of our people to start believing that voting is an exercise in futility and that Trump will refuse to leave the White House, win or lose.
We all know that QAnon is a figment of a wild imagination. The notion that Trump could manage to hunker down in the White House if he loses the election is equally absurd. Sure, you don’t want to take Mitch McConnell’s word for it, but take a deep breath and remember that the weight of every American institution or what’s left of them will stand against any such foolishness. It’s getting weird for sure, but focus, my friends, focus. Voting doesn’t equal social change, but we still need everyone to mark their ballot and do the right thing, no matter what the internet crazies say, and let the pieces fall where they may without wasting time and energy worrying about conspiracies.