Come with me down the rabbit hole and enter a world where up is down, black is white, and Donald Trump is a traitor to the MAGA cause.
Trump’s video statement announcing his concession of defeat in the 2020 presidential election and his pledge to cooperate in a peaceful transfer of power apparently didn’t sit well with some of Trump’s most ardent and faithful supporters. There were disbelief and anger from some in the loose confederation of groups and individuals known as the “MAGA Movement” and the focus of that anger was on their former leader Donald Trump.
These are the “bitter enders” — those who will always claim that dark forces stole the election and Trump didn’t lose. Beyond that, they were ready to go to the mattresses for Trump if he encouraged them to do so.
“People were willing to die for this man and he just threw them all under the bus. That’s the only thing that’s shameful about the events of the past 36 hours,” Nick Fuentes, the host of the America First podcast and the unofficial leader of the white nationalist Groyper Army, angrily tweeted, shortly after Trump released a video Thursday night in which he conceded that Biden would be the next president and called for political reconciliation.
Cassandra Fairbanks, a prominent MAGA activist, tweeted: “[He] tells angry people to march to the capitol [and then] proceeds to throw his supporters under the bus.”
Some in the movement saw the video and refused to believe it. “He DID NOT CONCEDE! ITS HIS NEW ADMINISTRATION that will be coming in,” wrote one responder to a Twitter thread on the video. Even acknowledging Trump’s own words as real could get a poster in trouble.
But the reaction of some QAnon conspiracists shows the depths of fantasy and paranoia to which some in the movement have fallen.
QAnon conspiracy theorists, praying for years that Trump would flush Satan-worshipping pedophile elites out of Washington, tore apart any scrap of data from the video to prove that he was playing one final trick. They subjected the time stamps to numerology, thinking that there was a secret message encoded.
“In no way did Trump say he conceded. He said: transitioning to a new Admin. As in, he gonna clear this one out and bring a new one,” tweeted We The Inevitable, a conspiracy account, getting more than 3,000 retweets within the hour. The account’s followers agreed that this was surely a sign that he was getting rid of Vice President Mike Pence — now cast as a MAGA traitor after participating in the certification of Biden’s win — and that on Jan. 20, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, now a full-fledged QAnon patriot, would replace him in Trump’s second term.
Wow. Just wow.
These are the irreconcilables — nothing will ever convince them that their beliefs are insane. And there aren’t just a few of them. There are millions of people who believe in one or more threads of the QAnon conspiracy. They can be a potent political force if someone learns how to dial into their minds as Trump did.
Americans on both sides believe all sorts of crazy things. Most of them are born out of ignorance and fear. But when those conspiracy theories and ideas move from the radical fringe to the mainstream, America has a problem.