In 1992, at the height of its political power, Ralph Reed laid out the Christian Coalition’s stealth political strategy at the group’s “Road to Victory” conference. The key to the Coalition’s success was to take over local school boards, county commissions, and other local offices. According to The Los Angeles Times, “It included flooding precinct meetings, targeting low-turnout elections and hiding the Christian Right agenda until after a candidate is elected. ‘Is this sinking in?’ Reed said, according to The Nation magazine. ‘We don’t have to worry about convincing a majority of Americans to agree with us. Most of them are staying home and watching ‘Falcon Crest.’ They’re not involved, they’re not voting, so who cares?’”
In an early nineties interview with Norfolk, Virginia's Virginian-Pilot, Reed said: "I want to be invisible. I paint my face and travel at night. You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag. You don't know until election night."
Some are arguing that since the January 6th Trump-inspired Capitol riot, QAnon has peaked, and is not as relevant as it was. While some QAnon followers continue to believe Trump will be triumphantly returned to the presidency, and mass execution of traitors will take place, others are taking a page out of Reed’s playbook, playing the long game and doing so by flying beneath the radar. Although social media makes it much more difficult to carry out stealth campaigns, nevertheless QAnon followers are settling in and upping their game by stealthily running for seats on local school boards and other local offices.
QAnon candidates winning elections
According to The San Diego Tribune (https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/columnists/story/2021-06-25/column-qanon-followers-are-running-for-school-boards-local-offices), “Reports of QAnon candidates winning local elections have been bubbling up across the nation. Local and national news organizations have noted that in some cases the candidates’ beliefs and social media posts about the conspiracy theories were not widely known before ballots were cast.”
NEA Today’s Mary Ellen Flannery recently reported that “Across the county, conspiracy theorists and proponents of fake news are winning local elections. And their new positions give them a powerful voice in everything from local law enforcement to libraries, trash pickup to textbook purchases.”
“In coastal San Luis Obispo, California,” Flannery reported (https://www.nea.org/advocating-for-change/new-from-nea/qanon-radicalizing-your-school-board) “a school board trustee’s Facebook posts include a QAnon video, misinformation about COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter, and promotion of the ex-gay, conversion movement. She won, says the town’s mayor, who is calling for her resignation, because ‘people had no idea this was going on,’ and didn’t have the ‘bandwidth to research the school board election,’ reports the local newspaper, the Tribune.”
he Sarasota, Florida, the Sarasota Herald Tribune Editorial Board recently noted that during his successful election campaign, Sarasota County Sheriff Kurt Hoffman posed for photos last year with a supporter in a “We are Q” t-shirt.
“A newly elected school board member in the tiny Michigan city of Grand Blanc (pop. 7,784) has been called a QAnon sympathizer and, conversely, a person who cares deeply about education but is being criticized for her partisan views,” The San Diego Union Tribune noted.
“Regardless, it wasn’t until after she was elected that her past QAnon-related social media posts were discovered by a high school senior, according to CNN. That triggered protests and calls for her resignation.”
As Media Matters for America recently pointed out (https://www.mediamatters.org/qanon-conspiracy-theory/here-are-qanon-supporters-running-congress-2022) that at least 36 congressional candidates that have embraced QAnon conspiracy theory are running for office in 2022. According to the media watchdog group, Among these 36 candidates who have previously endorsed or given credence at some level to the conspiracy theory or promoted QAnon content, there are :
* Nine are from Florida, six are from California, two each are from Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey, Texas, Illinois, and Ohio, and there is one each from Maryland, Rhode Island, Oregon, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, and Colorado.
* One of the candidates, in Florida, is running for a special congressional election being held in January 2022.
* Thirty-three are Republicans, two are independents, and one is deciding whether to run as a Republican or an independent.
* Twenty-nine previously ran for Congress in 2020. Two previously ran for a state legislative seat in 2020.
* Two, from Colorado and Georgia, are incumbents in Congress. One, from Florida, is an incumbent state legislator.
“The long-term impacts are really dangerous,” Jared Holt, a disinformation researcher at the Atlantic Council, told TIME this summer. “We’re supposed to have our leaders make decisions based on shared sets of facts. If we decide [it’s okay] for elected officials to believe in an outlandish byzantine conspiracy theory like QAnon, then the door is left open for that shared sense of understanding to further erode.”
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