APPENDIX A: What is QAnon?

When asked about Savin’s coalition, one prominent expert described QAnon as “such an anti-reality way of thinking that it is entirely incompatible with the conventions that sustain democracy.” This is correct.

The beating heart of QAnon is the idea that Donald J. Trump will soon arrest, imprison, try, and execute all of his most prominent opponents, who are part of a cabal of Satanic pedophiles. After this event, called “the Storm,” believers expect a golden age of patriotism, prosperity, and peace as America unites around its liberator and returns to purer, simpler ways. 

Of course, a purge of Trump’s opponents followed by his unopposed reign would be the end – not the restoration – of the Republic. But QAnon followers are notorious for living in what you might call a perpetual Opposite Day. For instance, and this is by no means the only example I could cite, one often sees Q followers describe Xi Jinping, who in reality leads the world’s largest Communist party, as an anti-Communist crusader1 fighting the Chinese Communist Party from within.2

After the 2020 election, Q followers were among the most fervent inventors and spreaders of stolen-election theories: the election was a sting operation to catch the Dems cheating. There were secret watermarks on the ballots. The CIA director had been wounded – no, killed – during a Special Forces raid on “the real election servers” in Frankfurt, Germany. Trump had already arrested the Democrats who rigged the election and was hanging them one by one at Gitmo, or from a parking structure near the White House. An executive order would let Trump overturn the election if the intelligence community found foreign interference, which would happen any day now. The media was lying. Mass arrests were just around the corner. Patriots should hold the line. Anons should trust the plan. 

Even after Biden’s inauguration, many Q believers – including Juan O Savin – claimed that Trump was secretly still running the country.

In short, QAnon culture has a strongly pro-authoritarian bent and rejects observable reality. Q followers are characterized by a fanatical devotion to Trump and, especially, a conviction that his opponents are Satanic pedophiles who stay in power only via rigged elections. A coalition of candidates who can pass a Q influencer’s purity test is, therefore, cause for real concern.


1 These aren’t cherrypicked examples: it really is common. The Q Origins Project recently conducted a research project examining pro- and anti-Xi narratives on 8kun’s Q-related boards. In the most recent period we analyzed – January to April of 2022 – we found pro-Xi sentiment running at roughly 60%. While the results did vary over time, this finding is remarkable given that, in virtually any other conservative or pro-Trump community, one would expect pro-Xi sentiment to be around zero percent.

2 The logic is: Trump has said nice things about Xi; Trump wouldn’t say nice things about a bad guy; Communists are bad guys; therefore, Xi must secretly be against Communism.