Late last month, as the Texas Republican Party was shifting into campaign mode, it unveiled a new slogan, lifting a rallying cry straight from a once-unthinkable source: the internet-driven conspiracy theory known as QAnon.
The new catchphrase, “We Are the Storm,” is an unsubtle cue to a group that the F.B.I. has labeled a potential domestic terrorist threat. It is instantly recognizable among QAnon adherents, signaling what they claim is a coming conflagration between President Trump and what they allege, falsely, is a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophile Democrats who seek to dominate America and the world.
The slogan can be found all over social media posts by QAnon followers, and now, too, in emails from the Texas Republican Party and on the T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts that it sells. It has even worked its way into the party’s text message system — a recent email from the party urged readers to “Text STORM2020” for updates.
The Texas Republicans are an unusually visible example of the Republican Party’s dalliance with QAnon, but they are hardly unique. A small but growing number of Republicans — including a heavily favored Republican congressional candidate in Georgia — are donning the QAnon mantle, ushering its adherents in from the troll-infested fringes of the internet and potentially transforming the wild conspiracy theory into an offline political movement, with supporters running for Congress and flexing their political muscle at the state and local levels.
Chief among the party’s QAnon promoters is Mr. Trump himself. Since the theory first emerged three years ago, he has employed a wink-and-nod approach to the conspiracy theory, retweeting its followers but conspicuously ignoring questions about it. Yet with the election drawing ever closer and Mr. Trump’s failure to manage the Covid-19 pandemic harming his re-election prospects, the White House and some Trump allies appear to have taken to openly courting believers. [Continue reading…]