Leadership Strategy

Is Mike Pence Embracing QAnon? Attendance At Supporters’ Fundraiser Poses Troubling Questions


On Wednesday, the Associated Press broke the story that Mike Pence plans to attend a political fundraiser at the home of prominent Republicans who are also apparent QAnon supporters. After recently disclaiming any knowledge of QAnon, the Vice President now seemingly has no issue embracing proponents of the unfounded conspiracy theory.

The question is why?

Based on an invitation to a political fundraiser obtained and reviewed by the AP, the Vice President, GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Republican National Committee finance chairman Todd Ricketts, and RNC co-chairman Tommy Hicks Jr., are all listed as attendees at a September 14th fundraiser to be hosted at the home of Caryn and Michael Borland in Bozeman, Montana. Additionally, Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top Trump campaign fundraiser and girlfriend of Donald Trump, Jr., is also listed as being in attendance.

While the big-name political fundraiser itself is not unusual, what is notable is that the Borlands have used their social media accounts to share content and memes associated with QAnon, a loose network of conspiracy theorists that traffic in baseless claims that Satan-worshipping pedophiles and other shadowy figures are plotting global control. QAnon supporters claim that President Trump is battling deep state actors who are conspiring against him and the good of the nation. The conspiracy theory takes its name from a purported figurehead “Q” who transmits cryptic messages, or so-called breadcrumbs, to his/her followers on 4chan and 8chan social networks.

QAnon has gained national attention of late, as several candidates running for Congress, as well as other political figures, have embraced QAnon despite its debunked theories. For example, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican congressional candidate in Georgia who has embraced QAnon, has been endorsed by President Trump, who himself has refused to condemn QAnon because, in his words, “they like me.”

Beyond being criticized for its aggressive online tactics of bullying its critics, observers of QAnon draw comparisons of the shadowy movement to historic and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories asserting that powerful people, particularly Jews, are plotting global domination. The conspiracy theory is not only limited to the United States either. QAnon has gained an international following, particularly in Germany, where it is being embraced by neo-Nazis. in the United State, a 2019 bulletin from the FBI warned that conspiracy theory-driven extremists such as those that may be affiliated with QAnon are a domestic terrorism threat.

Not all Republicans are embracing QAnon. Representative Liz Cheney, chair of the House Republican Conference and daughter of former Vice-President Dick Cheney, called QAnon “dangerous lunacy that should have no place in American politics.” Similarly, in August Republican Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) told The Washington Post in response to Trump’s comments that “QAnon is nuts — and real leaders call conspiracy theories conspiracy theories.”

Even Vice President Pence, in August, claimed he was not familiar with QAnon, saying, when asked about it by CBS, “I don’t know anything about QAnon, and I dismiss it out of hand.”

So what’s changed?

While it’s possible that the Vice President isn’t familiar with the Borland’s purported support of QAnon, it’s hard to dismiss the fact that those working with the campaign are unfamiliar with their politics, especially given the magnitude of their contributions. Additionally, as the AP reported, Michal Borland has several references to QAnon prominently displayed on Facebook page, including a myriad of “Q” logos and slogans.

It is also very much possible that that Pence, ever the supporter of the President, but also one to eye his own political fortunes, is already beginning to develop his own base of future support. With President Trump trailing Democratic challenger Joe Biden in the polls, should the President lose in November, the race to take on the mantle of the Republican party would be wide open. With more Republicans seemingly open to the QAnon conspiracy theories, being on the right side of the QAnon movement might seem to be in the Vice President’s interests.

In any event, one thing is certain. For a politician who recently claimed not to be familiar with QAnon, the Vice President has become a quick study. The question is, if Pence embraces QAnon, will QAnon follow Pence?

That is a theory worth keeping an eye on.



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