The president has repeatedly elevated its digital foot soldiers, sharing their tweets more than a dozen times on Fourth of July alone. His middle son, Eric, who is 36 and a campaign surrogate, recently posted, and then deleted, an image drumming up support for his father’s Tulsa rally that included a giant “Q” and the text, “Where we go one, we go all.”
The apparent convergence of Trump’s inner circle with an ever-widening cohort of QAnon believers is alarming to scholars of extremism and digital communications, some of whom characterize the theory’s adherents as a cult. What most troubles analysts, however, is not that McEnany and others responsible for carrying out Trump’s agenda are amplifying QAnon, which has permeated right-wing politics and inspired a cadre of congressional candidates who could soon bring the philosophy to Capitol Hill. Even more worrisome, these observers say, is that the president’s messaging is increasingly indistinguishable from some key elements of the conspiracy theory.
The erroneous ideas defining QAnon — that Trump is a messianic figure fighting the so-called deep state, that he alone can be trusted, that his opponents include both Democrats and Republicans complicit in years of wrongdoing and that his rivals are not just misguided but criminal and illegitimate — represent core tenets of the president’s reelection campaign, especially as his poll numbers slump.
Meanwhile, the salvation envisioned by QAnon believers, including military takeover and mass arrests of Democrats, rhymes with the president’s vow to use the armed forces to “dominate.”