Is there some difference between the MAGA Movement and the QAnon movement? I suppose there may been some MAGAts who don’t buy into QAnon and some QAnon-addicts who haven’t bought into MAGA. But, basically, I get the idea that the 20-some odd percent of Americans who identify as MAGAts are basically the same 20-some odd percent of Americans who have been brainwashed by QAnon.
A month after the J-6 insurrection, the University of Washington surveyed hundreds of MAGAts. They are as insane and unmoored from reality as QAnon victims are. One of the co-authors of the survey, Chris Parker wrote that “[T]hese people feel like they’re losing their country and their identity. They feel like they’re being displaced by communities of color, by feminists and by immigrants. These people are motivated by what they see as an existential threat to their way of life.” Some of the highlights from their findings:
Nearly all (98%) of respondents said they believe Trump’s election fraud claims and distrust the actual results of the presidential election;
About 90% said voting “shouldn’t be easier”
More than two-thirds said Trump bears no responsibility for the events of Jan. 6– roughly the same percentage that laid the blame on antifa
At least 90% said Trump was honest about COVID-19, and that state and local government restrictions related to the pandemic should be loosened
Almost all said they were concerned that “forces are changing our country for the worse” and “the American way of life is disappearing”
A year later the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) conducted a survey of its own, revealing that nearly one in 5 Americans (41 million people)— and one in 4 Republicans— believe in QAnon conspiracy theories. They defined QAnon believers by using “three statements that are core tenets of the movement but do not specifically mention QAnon: (1) The government, media, and financial sector are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation; (2) There is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders; and (3) Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country. Those who generally agree with these statements are labeled QAnon believers.”
Robert Jones, CEO and founder of PRRI wrote that Americans who believe in QAnon conspiracies share a common belief that there is a pervasive cultural threat to their vision of America as a white Christian nation. QAnon believers are strongly committed to Christian nationalism. Two-thirds of QAnon believers (66%) say that being Christian is important to being truly American, compared to 43% of all Americans and one in five QAnon rejecters (20%). A significant majority of QAnon believers (81%) agree with the statement that America is in danger of losing its culture and identity, compared to significantly smaller shares of QAnon doubters (61%) and rejecters (27%). About three in four QAnon believers (73%) agree that the American way of life needs to be protected from foreign influence, compared to 33% of rejecters. These perceptions are associated with racial prejudice: QAnon believers are more than five times as likely as rejecters to agree with the statement that “the idea of America where most people are not white bothers me” (32% vs. 6%). QAnon believers remain loyal to Trump. Seven in ten QAnon believers agree with the idea that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump (69%), and 67% believe Trump is a true patriot. Regarding the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, QAnon believers are most likely to blame left-wing groups like Antifa (59%), and only 30% blame Trump, compared to 56% of all Americans.”
Can these people be reasoned with? Have you ever tried? Many of them have IQs that make it impossible for them to comprehend abstract concepts. Grievances, bigotry and hatred they understand… the stuff Jesus Christ talked about, not so much. The sad truth is that MAGAts don’t believe— at least as members of a movement— in anything but primeval urges: selfishness, violence and power. And chaos is a means to those ends.
Tuesday, in his Atlantic column, Tom Nichols addressed Biden’s “soul sickness” speech about creeping fascism inside the MAGA movement. Biden: “They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country… MAGA Republicans have made their choice. They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies.”
Nichols wrote that this “is what makes the MAGA movement so dangerous. It has no functional compass and no set of actual preferences beyond a generalized resentment, a basket of gripes and grudges against others who the Trumpists think are looking down upon them or living better lives than they are. It is a movement composed of people who are economically comfortable and middle-class, who enjoy a relatively high standard of living, and yet who seethe with a sense that they have been done dirt, screwed over, betrayed— and they are determined to get revenge.”
Biden broke with tradition by saying what presidents are never supposed to say: He admitted that he was finally giving up on trying to accommodate a group of Americans, because he understands that they do not want to be accommodated. I know that some of my friends and colleagues believe that Biden, as president, must continue to reach out to MAGA voters because they are our neighbors and our fellow citizens… My instinct is to agree with them. But how do we reach those voters? These citizens do not want a discussion or a compromise. They don’t even want to “win,” in any traditional political sense of that word. They want to vent anger over their lives— their personal problems, their haunted sense of inferiority, and their fears about social status— on other Americans, as vehemently as possible, even to the point of violence.
How do any of us, and especially the president, engage with such a movement, when every discussion includes the belief that the only legitimate outcomes are ones in which the MAGA choice wins? Such an insistence is not civic or democratic in any way, and it is not amenable to resolution through the democratic process.
This, by the way, is why it was a mistake for Biden to raise issues such as abortion and privacy in his speech. Yes, the opportunists who will ride into political office on the bed of a pickup flying MAGA flags will attack these rights, but that is incidental to their real interest, which is power and the spoils it brings. Issues such as abortion, LGBTQ rights, and contraception are really just hot buttons meant to rile up the voters. (MAGA World, as a movement, seems to have a kind of tabloid-television-style obsession with sex, which makes sense, as it is led by a tabloid star who literally bragged about the size of his penis on a GOP debate stage.)