Battleground with Amanda Litman and Faiz Shakir

9/16/2021

QAnon: Coming to a School Board Near You with Mike Rothschild

Season 1, Ep. 48
America’s lack of media literacy and historical affinity for conspiracy theories have allowed QAnon to move from the dark corners of the web to violence at the US Capitol. Now, much like the Tea Party efforts of last decade, the movement is attempting to take over local governments at a disconcerting pace. Journalist Mike Rothschild (The Storm Is Upon Us) has spent his career investigating how internet culture impacts American politics, and he is one of the go-to resources regarding all things QAnon. Mike joins Amanda on Battleground to discuss how QAnon has been shedding its fringier messaging post-insurrection and organizing politically to capture school boards and easily winnable local seats across the country.  If you’re tempted to dismiss the movement as a passing ‘Boomer fad,’ you might be surprised to learn that every age group and socioeconomic class is represented in QAnon.  Mike calls it the “umbrella of conspiracy theories,” and it  includes 2020 election results deniers, anti-vaxxers, anti-CRT diehards, and the forced-birth brigade. Mike points out (as Amanda does every week) that while many of us get distracted by the shimmer and drama of national politics, the real work of preserving a functional, multicultural democracy is at the unglamorous, hyper-local level. Conservatives are already putting up huge roadblocks to participating in state and national elections; adding a super-motivated band of conspiracy theorists running for school board and town mayor will not bode well for democracy.