QAnon followers think Trump will be back in the White House by March
Supporters have shifted to merge their beliefs with those promoted by the extremist sovereign citizen movement
Supporters of the sprawling QAnon conspiracy have begun to spread rumors that Donald Trump will become president again on March 4.
In the latest twist to the baseless conspiracy theory in which the former president is portrayed as fighting an elite cabal of Satanist pedophiles, QAnon supporters have merged their beliefs with those promoted by the extremist sovereign citizen movement, whose followers refuse to recognize United States laws or any federal authority.
In one video shared by Travis View, the co-host of the QAnon Anonymous podcast, a woman can be heard claiming Trump will take office on March 4. “A peaceful transition is coming. Trump will not be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on january 20th. Trump will take office as the 19th president on March 4th, under the restored republic. Let me explain. You believe you live in a nation called the United States of America. This nation hasn’t existed since 1871, when this country ceased to be a nation and became a corporation belonging to the city of London.”
Followers of the sovereign citizen movement believe a law passed in 1871 turned the U.S. into a corporation. They also claim the country has been run by a group of shadowy investors since 1933 when former President Franklin D. Roosevelt ended the gold standard.
“President Donald Trump is the president for four more years and he will be inaugurated on March 4th. The biggest thing is that the military is running our country right now,” wrote one user on Facebook this week.
Alex Kaplan, a senior researcher at Media Matters, a nonprofit watchdog in Washington D.C., told me that he started seeing QAnon supporters share the new rumors on social media in the days after President Biden’s inauguration.
“Some started saying that Trump will somehow become the 19th president because every president after Ulysses S. Grant is not legitimate. He was the 18th president.” said Kaplan. “This is a claim that apparently has been similar to what has been pushed by sovereign citizens.”
While the sovereign citizen movement lacks any organizational structure, its followers have recently confronted police to protest lockdown orders in Australia and the U.S.
Extremism experts say the merging of the QAnon and sovereign citizen (SovCit) conspiracies is a new trend. “I believe that some of the more resilient strains of the QAnon movement will be the Qvangelicals and QAnon adherents that have an affinity towards SovCit ideals,” tweeted Marc-Anre Argentino, a PhD researcher of right-wing movements at Concordia University in Montreal.
“QAnon is not a SovCit Movement, though there are some influencers and adherents that have an affinity for concepts from SovCits especially when it comes to legal and constitutional witchcraft,” he continued.
Kaplan warned that followers of QAnon could become further radicalized by more extremist ideologies. “What has been, I think, critical to why QAnon grew in the first place, is that essentially it takes conspiracy theories from other places and just incorporates them. It’s like the blob of conspiracy theories.”
Extremist groups could also see an opportunity in recruiting QAnon followers disillusioned by Trump’s defeat. “The fear is that even if they don’t believe in QAnon, you could replace it with something dangerous,” said Kaplan.
While YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have all purged QAnon accounts in recent months, the CEO of Gab, a social media site popular with neo-Nazis and other extremists, posted a news release in November welcoming new QAnon supporters to the platform.
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