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GOP Rep. Peter Meijer has warned that the rise of the QAnon conspiracy theory movement could destroy the Republican Party from within in remarks to CNN.
Meijer is one of few Republicans who’ve spoken out against the rise of conspiracy-theory-driven beliefs among a swath of the GOP grassroots. He was one of only 10 Republicans in the House who voted to impeach Donald Trump for inciting the Capitol riot on January 6.
“The fact that a significant plurality, if not potentially a majority, of our voters have been deceived into this creation of an alternate reality could very well be an existential threat to the party,” Meijer, a freshman congressman from Michigan, told the network.
The QAnon movement emerged from messaging boards 4chan and 8chan, to be adopted and promoted by Trump allies on the far right as it spread through the Republican Party. A Republican congresswoman, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Wood of Georgia, pushed the conspiracy theory before her election last year though in recent weeks has claimed she does not believe in it.
Adherents claim, groundlessly, that a Satanic cabal of Democrats and Hollywood stars secretly manipulate world events and run child trafficking networks. They revere Donald Trump as a savior figure, who will dismantle the cabal.
But the belief of adherents that Trump would halt Joe Biden’s inauguration and defeat his foes in a day of violent reckoning has failed to materialize, and Meijer warned that the dispair could fuel political violence.
“When we say QAnon, you have the sort of extreme forms, but you also just have this softer, gradual undermining of any shared, collective sense of truth,” Meijer said. He told CNN that conspiracy theories fuel “incredibly unrealistic and unachievable expectations” and “a cycle of disillusionment and alienation” that could lead conservative supporters not to vote or could even lead to more violence like the January 6 attack.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger is another GOP congressman who has publicly criticized the movement and has formed a PAC to fight the rise of conspiracy theories in the GOP and provide backing to anti-Trump Republicans facing primary challenges.
He told CNN that the QAnon movement could fuel conflict: “Do I think there’s going to be a civil war? No. Do I rule it out? No. Do I think it’s a concern, do I think it’s something we have to be worried about? Yeah.”
In the wake of the Capitol riot, a small group of GOP lawmakers has called for the party to distance itself from Donald Trump’s legacy. In an op-ed in January, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska warned that QAnon was destroying the GOP.
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