QAnon supporters are overjoyed after Marjorie Taylor Greene won a congressional primary runoff in her home state of Georgia on Tuesday, a victory that virtually guarantees her a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Greene is a supporter of QAnon, the conspiracy theory that purports that President Trump is lying in wait to overthrow a deep state left-wing cabal. Last year, the FBI designated QAnon and similar conspiracy theories a domestic terrorism threat, in part because QAnon has led to real-world examples of violence, including the 2019 killing of a mob boss on Staten Island.
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On social media, many QAnon supporters expressed elation at Greene’s victory, viewing it as a coup for the cause. They were further emboldened by a tweet on Wednesday from President Trump, congratulating Greene on her victory. “Congratulations to future Republican Star Marjorie Taylor Greene on a big Congressional primary win in Georgia against a very tough and smart opponent. Marjorie is strong on everything and never gives up – a real WINNER!,” he wrote.
Congratulations to future Republican Star Marjorie Taylor Greene on a big Congressional primary win in Georgia against a very tough and smart opponent. Marjorie is strong on everything and never gives up – a real WINNER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2020
Who is Marjorie Taylor Greene?
The owner of a commercial construction company and a former CrossFit gym proprietor, Greene graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in business administration, according to her website. She is also active in the Family America Project, a “Pro-Trump, Pro-America group” that regularly posts conspiracy theorist content on Facebook.
Greene first gained national attention after Politico unearthed hours of Facebook video footage in which she ranted about black people, Muslims, and Jews, referring to billionaire George Soros as a “Nazi” and complaining about an “Islamic invasion” of government. She also compared Black Lives Matter activists to the neo-Nazis who marched at Charlottesville, calling them “idiots,” and said white men were the most “mistreated” group in America today.
The Politico report prompted many high-profile Republicans to distance themselves from her and instead throw their support behind her opponent John Cowan, a neurosurgeon who is also pro-Trump. Greene did not apologize for her comments, instead tweeting, “The Fake News Media, the DC Swamp, and their radical leftist allies see me as a very serious threat. I will not let them whip me into submission.”
Greene also became well-known for her remarks in support of QAnon. In 2017, early on in the evolution of the movement, Greene said in a video that Q, the anonymous poster claiming to have insider knowledge of a deep-state conspiracy, was a “patriot.” “I think it’s something worth listening to and paying attention to, and the reason why is because many of the things he has given clues about and talked about on 4chan and other forums have really proven to be true,” she says in the video.
Why does it matter that Greene is likely to win the congressional seat?
Greene’s victory — and Trump’s subsequent endorsement of her — represents how rapidly the QAnon conspiracy theory has gained traction in recent months. According to one estimate by Alex Kaplan of Media Matters, a liberal media watchdog group, there are at least 32 congressional or state legislative candidates this year who have expressed some support for QAnon, such as Lauren Boebert, the Republican nominee for Colorado’s 3rd congressional district, who describes herself on her website as “PRO-FREEDOM, PRO-GUNS, PRO-CONSTITUTION, PRO-ENERGY, PRO-LIFE, PRO-COLORADO, PRO-AMERICA.”
Although media platforms like TikTok and Twitter have cracked down on QAnon, banning QAnon-related hashtags and users, respectively, the movement has exploded in popularity in recent months, thanks in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic pushing people online and the proliferation of online conspiracy theories in general. Most recently, an anti-child trafficking hashtag, #SaveTheChildren, trended on Twitter in large part due to a concerted push from members of the QAnon community, and was ultimately used by many mainstream influencers.
Despite growing awareness of the dangers posed by conspiracy theorists and social media platforms’ efforts to minimize their influence, the victory of candidates like Greene suggests that such efforts may be limited. Conspiracy theories like QAnon are “like a hydra,” Elon University Assistant Professor of Strategic Communications Kathleen Stansberry previously told Rolling Stone. “You cut off one head, more heads grow. And you can make it stronger.”
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