Not that they handle it well, but leaders of the VTGOP are in a tough spot. On one hand they’ve got backers of plausible moderate Gov. Phil Scott, the only Republican who’s shown he can win a statewide election; on the other, the die-hard Trumpists and QAnon believers who, sadly, make up much of the party’s base. The latter’s irrepressible dogmatism makes it very tough for old-fashioned Republican types to stay involved.
Because they have to put up with stuff like a recent email exchange among Lamoille County Republicans, shared with me by a very annoyed Lamoille County Republican. It begins with an email sent to a Republican group list from one Shannara Johnson, a dyed-in-the-wool Q type and, ahem, Republican candidate for the House in 2020.
Other Republicans on the thread reacted strongly to the post. One called it “Russian propaganda.” Another termed it “a typical and obvious conspiracy theory.” Five people asked for their names to be removed from the email list because of Johnson’s post.
And that’s the dilemma faced by traditional Republicans. In order to stay in the party, they have to put up with the Shannara Johnsons of the world. All the time. I have seen similar conspiracy theories expressed at Vermont Republican state committee meetings, for Pete’s sake.
It must be said that other respondents expressed support for Johnson, albeit with a tenuous grasp of the language. “We are all living in a fantacy land is we trust every utterance that comes out of Washington,” wrote one. “There more going on besides the biolabs,” wrote another.
After a while, Johnson fired back.
Remember when it was a conspiracy theory that Jeffrey Epstein was a child sex trafficker for the rich and powerful…that COVID came from the Wuhan lab…that Fauci’s NIH had actually ordered Wuhan’s gain-of-function research…that the vaccines change your DNA…or that abortion clinics were harvesting and selling organs from aborted fetuses?
Um… wow, that escalated quickly. The Epstein thing is certainly true, but I don’t know that it started as “a conspiracy theory.” It wasn’t QAnon, that’s for sure. The others are simply not true.
Unless, as Johnson asserts, that the most trustworthy person on such issues is none other than Alex Jones. Yep, that’s we’re dealing with here.
And this person carried the party banner in the 2020 election. That wasn’t exactly on merit; she was one of only two Republicans on the primary ballot in a two-seat district, so she was all but guaranteed a spot on the November ballot. But hey, there she was, campaigning on QAnon conspiracies, appearing in candidate forums and going door-to-door while sporting the Republican label.
Is it any wonder that Republicans who just want to support conservative policy feel excluded? Is it any wonder that some of them walk away? Is it any wonder that the traditional bankrollers of Republican politics are largely absent from VTGOP donor lists? They don’t want to be associated with this nonsense.
And the more of them who make that decision, the more power devolves to the Trumper/QAnon base. Vicious cycle, I think they call it.