Pro-Trump conspiracy theories may have discouraged postelection violence

Then something surprising happened. The very conspiratorial bubbles these individuals lived in, the future-oriented ideas they consumed, and Trump’s own conspiracism around the electoral result had the opposite effect: They stood by and waited. Then, Trump played golf. Shortly after QAnon follower posted a video of Trump golfing on Telegram and wrote, “does he seem worried to you?” Another posted an article about Trump spending the weekend golfing and wrote, “this is how you know the president isn’t worried about a so-called Biden win.”

This notion that Trump “has a plan,” a sentiment deeply engrained in QAnon lore, kept these individuals glued to their seats. As one QAnon supporter wrote on Telegram, “Right now, Trump is sitting on a stack of Trump cards that he is just waiting to lay down like a Royal Flush. … Things are falling into place. He knows he won and they cheated. He gave them the chance to fix things. They chose not to. Now they all go down.”

But while the level to which these individuals trust in Trump has deterred them from taking matters into their own hands, sentiments like these are also dangerous because, at some point, it will become painfully obvious that there is no plan, that Trump is not playing three-dimensional chess, that he really is just golfing because he doesn’t want to do anything else.