The GOP And QAnon

GOP Senator Ben Sasse says all the right things–although his voting history is, shall we say, a bit more complicated. Sasse has a recent essay in the Atlantic in which he challenges his party to choose between conspiracy and reality–between the “delusional QAnon conspiracy theory,” and rationality.

We hear a lot about Qanon, but to understand not just Sasse’s argument but the political moment we inhabit, it’s important to recognize just how insane it is.

Although there are various iterations, the basic “theory” that supporters accept requires them to believe  that a “righteous” Donald Trump (!) is leading a “historic quest” to expose the fact that America’s federal government has been captured and is being controlled by a global network of cannibalistic pedophiles. This “cabal” includes not just the despised “deep state” bureaucrats, but also the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice and at least a dozen senators (including Sasse), along with George Soros and other notable Jews. (The conspiracy borrows heavily from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.) When Mike Pence explained that he couldn’t refuse to accept the certification of electoral votes, QAnon cultists added him to the network, ignoring his four years of sniveling sycophancy,

Millions of Americans actually believe this insanity. Virtually all of them are Republicans.

Writing in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol insurrection, Sasse makes what should be an obvious point: the GOP can be a political party, or a bizarre cult, but not both.

The violence that Americans witnessed—and that might recur in the coming days—is not a protest gone awry or the work of “a few bad apples.” It is the blossoming of a rotten seed that took root in the Republican Party some time ago and has been nourished by treachery, poor political judgment, and cowardice. When Trump leaves office, my party faces a choice: We can dedicate ourselves to defending the Constitution and perpetuating our best American institutions and traditions, or we can be a party of conspiracy theories, cable-news fantasies, and the ruin that comes with them. We can be the party of Eisenhower, or the party of the conspiracist Alex Jones. We can applaud Officer Goodman or side with the mob he outwitted. We cannot do both.

As he notes, prior to the assault on the Capitol, GOP leadership figures and consultants told themselves that they could “preach the Constitution while winking at QAnon.”  What they have discovered–one hopes–is that such a strategy is impossible. If the party does not reject conspiracy theories, it will be consumed by them.

Sasse provides a perfect illustration of the fecklessness of Republican leadership:

The newly elected Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. She once ranted that “there’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out, and I think we have the president to do it.” During her campaign, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had a choice: disavow her campaign and potentially lose a Republican seat, or welcome her into his caucus and try to keep a lid on her ludicrous ideas. McCarthy failed the leadership test and sat on the sidelines. Now in Congress, Greene isn’t going to just back McCarthy as leader and stay quiet. She’s already announced plans to try to impeach Joe Biden on his first full day as president. She’ll keep making fools out of herself, her constituents, and the Republican Party.

In the remainder of the essay, Sasse makes a bow to the obligatory “both sides” equivalence (the Left has crazy people too!), and points a pop-sociology finger at media–all media, not just social media and the Internet; he also blames the collapse of “institutions” and “America’s loss of meaning.” If you click through and read that part of his essay, you can decide for yourselves whether you find it particularly helpful or insightful. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t.)

That said, Sasse is clearly correct when he says the GOP cannot be a “big tent” that includes people like Jeff Flake, Ben Sasse and even Liz Cheney–people we may strongly disagree with but still recognize as serious adults– together with lunatics like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan, Devin Nunes and Louie Gohmert.

No tent is that big. Sasse is clearly correct when he says that the Republican Party must choose between insanity and reality.


  1. In college, I was Earlham’s rep on a ‘National College Conservative Council’ – until I received an unsolicited copy of the ‘Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion’ I IMMEDIATELY resigned from the group and took the literature to the USPS Inspectors and reported it as pornography. With that experience, I was DONE with so-called ‘conservatism’.

  2. After years of sniveling chicanery, the GOP finally found a Quixotic crusade to support!

    I mean, look at the Q anon theories, it was explosives that brought down the twin towers, lasers from space started the California wildfires, everything is a false flag operation if there on the opposite side of it. There were no school shootings in Parkside or Newtown! The Birther movement, the threats concerning murdering a former president, Barack Obama, and various members of government! The cannibalistic eating of babies? The socialists are coming for everyone? I mean, my God! And that’s just a small sample. How could an entire party of government be co-opted so easily? Rationality would tell you, there are no lizard creatures running government! Nobody is peeling the skin off the faces of babies to keep their youthful looks!

    So, you have the Lemming Quixote’s following close behind leader Don Quixote, who worships at the altar of Q Quixote all searching for those evil windmills! Harlan Ellison couldn’t have made this stuff up, Stephen King, couldn’t have written something like this using his wildest nightmares! And, yet, here we are! Since we are talking about fantasy, we are all witnessing an entire party of government sliding down the rabbit hole, and excitedly embracing it! It could’ve been stopped a long time ago, but, those who everyone claimed were the adults in the room, went along with the program, and the reason they went along with the program, is because deep down inside, they were of that sort!

    I think everyone should take a page from Dominion, start suing these groups and individuals, who are not steeped in reality, for causing great angst and being a burden on the mental health of America! I mean if you can sue cigarette manufacturers, you should be able to sue conspiracy theorists!
    18 U.S. Code § 371 – Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud United States.(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 701; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(L), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)

    (18 U.S.C. § 1001) is the common name for the United States federal process crime laid out in Section 1001 of Title 18 of the United States Code, which generally prohibits knowingly and willfully making false or fraudulent statements, or concealing information, in “any matter within the jurisdiction” of the federal government of the United States

    Make them prove their case, and if they can’t put them in jail!

  3. “Writing in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol insurrection, Sasse makes what should be an obvious point: the GOP can be a political party, or a bizarre cult, but not both.”

    This fact is the obvious point regarding the GOP today but is obviously ignored in favor of photo ops and continued acceptance by Trump. It is amazing how much we now rely on President Biden to use Trump’s Executive Order tactic to begin working our way out of the current quagmire still inhabited by Trump’s full supporters in the House and the Senate. With newly – and duly – elected President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris; we are still up to our ass in alligators. Those alligators in House and Senate presented themselves publicly by supporting his “Stop the Steal” campaign and although possible victims themselves, aided Trump from within in his seditious insurrection where they were protected by short-staffed Capitol police who suffered grievous injuries and death from Proud Boys and Qanon and their armed followers.

    This presents a bizarre and dangerous situation; being governed by our enemies from within. This current Republican House and Senate situation continues unabated and goes far afield from President Abraham Lincoln’s wise statement, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

    “…the Republican Party must choose between insanity and reality.” Our survival as a nation still depends on the ultimate choices of the Republican party.

  4. No matter how bizarre this iteration of the GOP becomes, it is written into Indiana’s election law, although not by name. Because Indiana’s statutes give automatic ballot access and other perquisites to the “two major political parties” – defined as the two parties that received the most votes for candidates in the most recent election for Indiana Secretary of State – and because James Bopp, Jr., was quite adroit in drafting the Indiana GOP’s articles of incorporation, the GOP is protected by statute. They’d love it if someone started another political party to challenge them. Such a move could “bump” the Indiana Democratic Party from the hallowed statute of being one of the two majors. The organizational framework of political party as a corporation that can set its own rules, due process be damned, was affirmed in Wilding v DNC Services, 941 F3d 1116 (11th Cir 2019). Yes, the Democratic National Committee safeguarded its turf in a fashion that leaders of both major political parties like. I know there has to be a legal entity status for a political party, and “corporate” is the only one that makes sense. There should be special rules for “political corporations,” for lack of a better term, that safeguard due process rights and prevent corporations from de jure, if not already de facto, control of the system. And, in case anyone wants to know, I’m still a primary-qualified Republican in good standing, according to those same GOP rules. We have to fight from within.

  5. Agreed, Ms. Kennedy, however, I would like to see you write about this as well: I believe the Democratic party also has its big tent issues, though it is related to a different kind of reality check–the reality of the American electorate’s center and their negative perceptions about the Democratic party’s trustworthiness to execute reasonably restrained government with respect to taxing, spending, regulating and making the everyday machinery of government more efficiently serve, rather than hinder, The People and the small businesses and small farmers that employ and feed them. Granted, the electorate’s suspicion of Dems often has been initiated and fomented the Right, but the the Dems messaging continues to suck, and often the solutions they propose to our biggest problems can be summed in two words: more government. So a question in my mind is, can the Dems hope to win any more elections while they continue to prioritize their “big tent” issues: immigrants, the poor and minorities, the enviro-climatists, and globalists at the (perceived) expense of average Americans? I think not. Should they erect a smaller tent? No, but they certainly need to re-visit, re-frame and re-message their priorities and choose carefully the messengers who will explain their initiatives to voters, (i. e., not NP, DS, AOC et al). I keep waiting for their outside-the-box initiatives for middle and rural America, such as start-up/job creation funding to make every town or county self-sufficient in food production, clean and cheap energy, waste management and affordable housing. And I’m still waiting.

  6. John, do you still believe the government’s story (NIST) on how the third tower in NY came down exactly like the other two? LOL

    Over 3,000 architects and engineers disagree with you.

    I’m not sure I’d lump the 9/11 fallacy by the federal government under Bush with #PizzaGate under the QAnon conspiracies.

    Remember that 9/11 caused a war that was also contrived against the wrong country. We should have been attacking Saudi Arabia – not Iraq.

    Not to mention how 9/11 birthed The Patriot Act…one of the greatest thefts of American liberties.

    The survivors of the 9/11 tragedy wanted to sue Saudi Arabia and had a strong case but guess which POTUS for the people prevented it? Yea that would be Obama.

    And speaking of Iraq…we had Julian Assange releasing evidence of war crimes committed by soldiers, and look what our government has done to him?

    Oh, and remember the Chief of IC testifying in front of Congress, “No, we don’t spy on Americans.”

    Edward Snowden made him a liar.

    We’ve got all these criminals lying and killing who work for or elected by the government walking free among us.

    Meanwhile, the ones holding them accountable are incurring negative consequences. No wonder we rank 45th in the world for freedom of the press.

    And, you wonder why people believe conspiracy theories over our government and media. 😉

  7. From EIGHT years ago:
    Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal warned fellow Republicans they
    “must stop being the stupid party”
    during a fiery and sharp critique Thursday night at the Republican National Committee’s Winter Meeting.
    Not Yet

  8. There has never been a political party more deserving of Q Anon than today’s Republican party. I can’t imagine that Marjorie Taylor Greene’s constituents didn’t know about her desire to put a bullet in the head of Nancy Pelosi, or her belief that the Parkland shooting was a false flag. All those good Republicans voted her in and now they will live with the result. Unfortunately all the rest of us will also have to live with the result.

  9. Patmcc,

    The Republicans are compelled to be the stupid party for the simple reason that its members are bone-crushingly stupid when it comes to governing. The donor class operates the Republican party and its cheaply purchased employees do exactly what they’re told to do.

    Yes, Democrats still have a messaging problem, but despite what Todd summarizes about everything, they intend to govern. Republicans gave that up in 1980 when they nominated the WAY overrated Ronald Reagan. Their embrace of stupid shit economics made them the stupid party forever.

    Sasse is a Republican. He can talk the talk all day long, but being an employee of corporate/banking America, he will not walk the walk if it means losing a single vote or a single corporate contribution.

  10. I would bet all the money I have that the lunatics in the Republican party aren’t going anywhere. We’ve (mostly Rs, but Ds certainly are guilty too) gerrymandered ourselves into it. There’s 0% chance any significant number of Republicans will walk away from the crazy. They will embrace it and ride it to power, money, influence, etc. They have to. It’s that, or just quit. You can’t try to fix it at this point.

    If you try to fix the problem, you’re a “traitor” to the cult and you’ll be primary-ed out before you can make a difference. Replace by a true believer. Rinse repeat.

    This is going to be very difficult to correct at this point. Not least because money, power, and influence say “don’t fix it”.

    Bank on it.

  11. Neither party has a firm hold on trustworthiness, but I’d sooner back the “beignets” of the Dems than that of the GOP, the latter of which has been working, assiduously, if somewhat quietly, to entrench white elitism still further than it was after reconstruction was doomed. Yes, the Dems need to step up for the rural folks, and maybe Biden’s job training plan will work in that direction, we will see. But Jan, those you mention are part of the average citizens: the poor, and minorities, the enviro-climatists. Do you not understand just how many “average americans” are included in these groupings?
    Still, the lunacy being expressed on the right, and within the GOP, is astonishing! Sassy has it right.

    BTW, Sheila, I watched the LWV movie on the Zoom experience, last night. It dove-tails with today’s topic, as it demonstrates, very clearly, how the GOP has been, as I wrote above, working to further ensconce white elitism since the end of reconstruction. They use the “accuse the opposition of precisely what we are doing ” tactic regarding “fixed” elections very effectively.
    In the chat section, someone expressed amazement at the voter suppression, and it seemed as if it were something new to her, in my reading of it. I found it to be exactly what we’ve been experiencing. In Florida, before the 2016 election, then gov.Scott was able to disqualify some 40,000 people named Johnson, because of one Mr.Johnson, who seemed legitimately questionable, but, the excuse went, they could not identify which Johnson it was. Oh, is Johnson a name attached to an overwhelmingly black population? Funny if that should be the case.

  12. A perfect conspiracy leaves no evidence. Therefore the less evidence there is, the more conspiracy theorists are certain of a conspiracy. There’s no untying this Gordian knot.

  13. Mitch D. , of course you are correct: All of these groups include at least some folks who are part of or care about some of the priorities mentioned. To be more specific about “average Americans,” I meant the average center-right non-Trumpite Americans who voted for Trump anyway because of fiscal or single-issue self-interest, or people who stayed home from the polls bc they hate Trump but deeply distrust the Dems, or center-left voters who voted Dem despite their misgivings about the party.

  14. I doubt seriously QAnon even knows what a pedophile is and how to identify them based on substantiated evidence of behavior. It is a word they use to demonize those they disagree with from deep down in their gut. QAnon’s aim is to deconstruct and destroy adherence to The Constitution and our way of governance that holds people accountable to protect mutual freedom for all. QAnon’s message and strategy is nothing more than fratricidal gas lighting to self-destruction. If The Republicans Party fails to subordinate QAnon within their ranks, the rest of us will vote them out at the polls. We have work to do.

  15. Rep Greene needs first to be censured. And I hope her Facebook and Twitter accounts are blocked just like Trump’s were.

    Kevin McCarthy is a coward. He obviously has never thought about how Hitler came to power or other dictators for that matter.

    Matt Gaetz has no business going to Wyoming. His work toward ensuring Rep. Cheney’s defeat is disturbing. If he’s busy trying to undermine Republicans with courage and integrity, perhaps some Republicans need to go to his district and have a rally opposing him.

    Those Republicans who do not support Trump need to get busy with a strategy to ensure that Q-anon cultists don’t win primaries. But do they have the sense to start moving? Will the Republican citizens and party members have the sense to start fund raising now and to start messaging their members on TV etc. ?

    And would someone please start devising a strategy to free people from the conspiracy cults and white supremacist groups to help diminish the divisiveness and to help Republicans become people who truly support our democracy. I don’t know how to do this, but I am certain there are some experts in this field.

  16. It seems that QAnon, the Republican and the Democrat Parties are on a spectrum based on bias from fiction to non-fiction. You could of course arrange every institution on that spectrum too but politically those three would be represented.

    Everyone but Q Anon knows that their bias is complete fiction. Everyone but Republicans know that their bias is a mixture and that leaves Democrats near but not at the standard for provably non-fiction, science. One bit of evidence of this is the Democrat support of the scientific body of knowledge as a driver of effective policy.

    The human mind is attracted to both fiction and non-fiction for different reasons. Fiction can feel good because it confirms things that some people wish were real. Non-fiction works because it is real and the way that the Universe actually works and therefore it deals with the actual world that we live in effectively.

    Choose carefully.

  17. Amanda Marcotte, writes the following:

    “I’m not denying that there’s a power struggle between the flagrantly bonkers faction of the Republican Party and the somewhat less bizarro faction.

    But ultimately, that power struggle is more about aesthetics and tactics than goals. The McConnell wing prefers to undermine democracy through procedural obstructionism that slips the notice of the average voter.

    The Trump wing wants violent insurrection and in your face gun-waving. Either way, the objective is the same: Installing minority rule, gutting democracy, and shutting the majority of Americans out of power. And so it was inevitable that the power struggle would be limited in scope and would never actually drive anyone out of the Republican Party.”

    McConnell, will try to cast himself as a “Moderate” some one to work with in lieu of the fanatics like Cruz. McConnell will maintain has obstructionist schemes.

    I watched a segment on some cable channel where voters in Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s district in Georgia were fully supportive of her. At best some voters said she should tone the QAnon rhetoric down, i.e., it’s OK to believe in QAnon just keep under your (satire alert) “hood”.

    QAnon and other wild Reactionary Right Wing types emulate Joe McCarthy, that is make wild fact free charges. Once again at it’s core QAnon like Joe McCarthy relies on ignorance and trades in FEAR.

  18. Todd,

    You seem so close to joining QAnon that I thought I’d save you the trouble of researching how to do it. Please check the following Web site: But in reality all you have to do is to keep burbling out inanities like “Obama kept 9/11 families from suing Saudi Arabia” and you will be made an honorary member. My arithmetic indicates that George Baby Bush was president for about seven years after the Twin Towers were bombed and, as you said, he elected to go to war against a country geographically near the culprit. If memory serves, he also enjoyed strolling while holding hands with Saudis. Your mind seems to take you right up to the edge of discovery, grow fatigued, then distort every fact you have run across on your journey.

    And the last time I looked our government hadn’t done anything to Julian Assange except try to extradite him. Did I miss something? Please catch me up.

  19. Sasse is right to a point but ruins his ruminations with blame spreading at the end. He also neglects to mention his support of Trump up and until his moment of enlightenment with the advent of the cuckoos into his party after a few mild criticisms of Trump shortly before that.

    I think he is throwing his hat into the 2024 sweepstakes as the anti-Trump candidate since the
    pro-Trump field of Cruz, Hawley, Rubio, Pompeo and perhaps Trump (if not in jail) himself is overcrowded, and while his words ring true in Sheila’s quote, I remember his years of silence and pro-Trump votes. So he wants to be a pre-Trump Republican? I didn’t vote for them, either.

  20. In the six or so years I’ve participated on this blog, I would guess I have read a few hundred (democratic/liberal) posts (from this blog’s most prolific participants) generalizing an accusation against republicans to the effect that so-and-so situation is the outcome of a long and ongoing conservative plot/conspiracy. So…

    If not Q-anon, what shall the lunatic twig of the Democratic Party call itself?


  21. It also interests me to realize that the same people on this thread, who are certain that it would be IMPOSSIBLE for the DNC to steal the national election, conclude it’s ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that the DNC stole the primary election. To me, the ability to steal the primary election contains the POSSIBLE means to steal the national election, thus posters should either express less certainty that the national election results were accurate and honest, or less certainty that the primary was rigged.

  22. As no one has mentioned it, let me point out that M. T. (how appropriate is that for initials) Green ran unopposed. There was no other candidate on the ballot for the job.
    Censure is not an effective tool against someone like her, or Tr45p, for that matter. Republican leadership thumbed its collective noses at their colleagues in the House as well as the rest of the country by appointing her to the Education Committee. This after her public comments, well-documented, show her to be unsympathetic to the welfare of children at the least to actively hostile to them at the worst.
    Stripping her of her committee assignments, marginalizing her as much as possible are the least they can do. She is dangerously delusional.

  23. I just put in a request to my county library making them to buy the above mentioned book.
    The author is a journalist with prior books. the dance around this book, in the political arena is going to be quite a show. It’s nice that Dumpy has not got his Twitter feed.

  24. Todd,

    Considering I actually watched the 2nd jet crash into the 2nd tower, and the replays of several different private citizens and CCTV cameras showing the 1st jet crashing into the 1st tower, and watching how the fire slowly weakened the towers to eventually collapse, it was fairly obvious.

    Do I believe my lying eyes? Usually!

    I’ve actually seen the doctored photographs of a jet with the supposed missile attached underneath! That photograph has been analyzed and proved manipulated! Now, the person who I answered to in the building I worked in, a senior vice president had a son working in one of those towers! I immediately hooked up a large screen television in the control room to our government sat link! We were able to watch the entire chain of events from that point on in real time. Including government sites and news sites.

    We also saw the DOD clips of the jet hitting the Pentagon!

    On top of that, it was absolutely a fact that our fighter jets shot down that one hijacked jet in Pennsylvania. The videos of the fighter jets that were trailing that passenger airliner have been deleted. But they were quite prevalent the day of the event. That was the one that was on its way to the White House. And, I suppose I can understand the reasoning behind it, the outrage would’ve been deafening concerning that revelation. And, the gas station owner that watched the whole thing, what happened to him?

    Heck, even Osama bin Laden said that this is beyond his wildest dreams!

    And, being in the engineering field, what was said about how these buildings collapsed, by those who were in the know, was exactly on point!

  25. She also believes that the massacres of children at Sandyhook Elementary and Stoneman Douglas High School were staged events designed to take away gun rights.
    And then McCarthy puts this nut-case woman on the Education Committee!!!!

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