QAnon, the conspiracy movement that supports Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump at the Republican convention in Charlotte, North Carolina on August 24, 2020. David T. Foster / Reuters

Text by: Stefanie Schüler Follow

7 min

QAnon is an American far-right conspiracy movement. In this period of election campaign for the presidency, we find there the most fervent supporters of Donald Trump. QAnon has made its way from anonymous networks on the Web to American political reality.


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I don't know much about this movement, apart from the fact that they love me,  " Donald Trump explained on August 19 at a press conference at the White House, when he was asked about the QAnon movement. They claim that you are saving the world from a network of satanic and pedophile people,  " said a journalist. I did not hear that,  " replied the US president, before adding: "  But if I can help save the world from certain problems, I am willing to do so.  "

A conspiracy theory

QAnon is first and foremost a conspiracy theory. Its supporters believe that a satanic and pedophile cabal secretly controls the US government and the entire country. This evil network would be made up of personalities from the Democratic Party, such as Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, but also show biz stars and influential businessmen. And, according to the belief of the QAnons, Donald Trump is waging an underground war to free the United States from this deadly group. It would even be the main objective of his arrival at the White House.

Q, an anonymous internet user

Behind this conspiracy theory hides an anonymous internet user. His pseudonym is the letter Q, and he claims to be an American official. Since October 2017, Q has been posting cryptic messages on anonymous forums that would disclose classified information about this secret war led by Donald Trump. For nearly three years, Q has been planning the imminent and simultaneous arrests of thousands of members of the supposed satanic network, then transferred to the American military base at Guantanamo in Cuba to be tried and sentenced to death. Of course, none of this happened.

A Donald Trump voter wearing a QAnon sign during the President's address in Pennsylvania, August 2, 2018. Leah Millis / Reuters

More and more followers

Although no facts corroborate the slightest detail of this conspiracy theory, it is finding more and more followers. Many American researchers have been studying for several months the reasons that could explain what is becoming a real phenomenon.

The specialists first evoke the way that Q has to formulate his messages. These are often worded as questions: "  Which politician is in the news these days? Why ? And how does he relate to the politician who was the center of media attention last week?  These vague questions lead supporters of QAnon to step into action themselves. For hours, they will comb the Web in search of clues that could answer Q's questions.

Thus, each member of the QAnon community produces all kinds of conspiratorial theories themselves, fueling a sort of grand collective narrative exclusively reserved for "insiders". QAnon followers also believe they are receiving coded messages from the president himself. Like when Donald Trump pronounces the number 17 in one of his speeches, the letter Q being the 17th letter of the alphabet.

Over time, QAnon has become a movement in which we find all kinds of conspiracy theories: from the attacks of September 11, 2001 to the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, to the Covid-19 epidemic , or more recently on the demonstrations against police violence. At a time when mistrust of traditional political classes is gaining ground, its supporters are no longer located only in the United States but throughout the world, including France. QAnon enables a growing number of people to feel - and only feel - that they can explain a world that is beyond their comprehension.

The big leap : from the Web to American political life

If it has been several years since the American media have regularly published surveys on QAnon, this movement is attracting more and more attention, because its followers are more and more visible. Since the start of the campaign for the re-election of Donald Trump, they have been displayed, especially during the president's meetings: the letter Q is everywhere, printed on t-shirts and flags. But that's not all. According to the NGO Media Matters for America, which specializes in verifying information published by the conservative American media, more than 60 Republican candidates who will run for congressional elections next November have supported or propagated QAnon content.

On July 4, the American National Day, Michael Flynn, Donald Trump's former national security adviser, posted a video on Twitter in which he declaimed, surrounded by several people, the movement's motto: "  Where one of us goes, we all go.  "

#TakeTheOath 🇺🇸
Happy 4th of July 🇺🇸
God Bless America 🇺🇸
@ SidneyPowell1
@ JosephJFlynn1
@ lofly727
🇺🇸🇺 🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

  General Flynn (@GenFlynn) July 5, 2020

But there are also newcomers to the political arena, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who won the Aug. 11 Republican Party primaries in the very conservative 14th district of Georgia state. Marjorie Taylor Greene openly supports QAnon and regularly shares content from this movement. She is almost guaranteed to sit in Washington after the next House of Representatives election. Donald Trump warmly congratulated her on Twitter for her victory in the primaries.

QAnon: a potential threat of domestic terrorism according to the FBI

A year ago, the FBI called QAnon a “  potential threat of domestic terrorism  ”. Several acts of violence have already been committed in reference to this movement. In recent weeks, Twitter has closed 7,000 accounts linked to the movement. After some hesitation, Facebook finally took similar action  : 800 groups, 100 pages and 1,500 ads directly related to QAnon were removed.

Today, QAnon followers are arguably Donald Trump's most ardent group of supporters. It must be said that the candidate has everything to please them. Never has a president disclosed so much false information. Never has a President of the United States questioned the institutions of his country so much. With its harsh criticisms of the intelligence services, its repeated verbal charges against the nebulous "deep state" ("the deep state" in which a parallel hierarchy would hold real power) and more recently with its warnings against the threat of 'a large-scale electoral fraud - organized by Democrats who would try to rob him of his re-election thanks to generalized postal voting - Donald Trump has become the champion of the most radical conspirators, of an entire unreal and fictitious world which does not rest on any tangible proof.

While the president lags behind in the polls, his campaign team is taking the lead: several American newspapers have found that election spots his campaign has aired in recent days on television in several key states included elements of QAnon's iconography.

On August 24, New York Times columnist  Paul Krugman summed it up: “  QAnon is Donald Trump's last and best chance. His only hope for re-election is fear itself.  "

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  • United States
  • Donald trump
  • USA Elections 2020

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