What the panel studies and the Post survey suggest is that a majority of Republicans, primarily Trump loyalists and MAGA supporters, have evolved, as a core component of their conspiracy theories, a coded or a cryptic language — a set of symbols, or an almost occult “cipher,” revolving around something like a secret cabal. “We are Q,” read one sign at the event in Florida. “Where Go One We Go All,” read another, which is the QAnon movement’s revealing motto.
Using their accusations almost as a lingua franca, a way to identify the like-minded, MAGA partisans and followers of QAnon signal one another by alleging that pedophile rings seek to wrest control of government or by alleging that school shootings were staged by leftists to win passage of gun control. They evoke a world in which unknown forces pull the levers of government, where nothing is as it seems to be. Professing your belief in claims like these attests to MAGA loyalties while expressing — in an arcane, politicized shorthand — your fervent opposition to liberalism and racial and cultural change.
At the extreme, these conspiratorial views can lead to the violence and sedition of Jan. 6, which gives immediacy to the question of whether there are electoral reforms that might blunt the impact of this lunacy.