In fact, conspiracy thinking had a huge night in America on Tuesday.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia who has repeatedly expressed belief in the QAnon conspiracy theory, was elected to the House of Representatives Tuesday night. Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Colorado who has said that she hopes QAnon is real because “it only means American is getting stronger and better,” won her contest too. Come January, almost a million and a half Americans will be represented in Congress by people who support a community bent on proving that President Donald Trump is waging a holy war against a high-powered cabal of child traffickers and blood-drinking Satanists that includes prominent Democratic politicians and Hollywood celebrities. This worldview is vehemently anti-media, anti-science, and—despite its claims of patriotism—antidemocratic, because it often calls for Trump to lead a military coup against the “deep state,” and to execute political enemies and “child-killers.” The FBI has deemed QAnon a domestic-terrorism threat. Trump refused to denounce it throughout his reelection campaign.
Earlier this year—before Greene’s and Boebert’s victories; before baseless theories about child trafficking spread across the internet, possibly permanently damaging the standing of a furniture company that has never been found guilty of wrongdoing; before QAnon led rallies in dozens of cities—it might have been easy to imagine that the end of Trump’s presidency would spell the end of QAnon. But QAnon is bigger than Trump, and with a robust conspiracy theory, there’s never a crisp end. In a worldview dominated by the belief that Democratic elites have rigged the system, a Biden victory wouldn’t be a repudiation—it would be further evidence of a scandal. And the longer, closer, and more drawn-out vote-counting is, the more baroque the theories can become.