Capitol siege was the result of right-wing election lies

Voter fraud conspiracy theories and false hope that Trump could overturn the election inspired supporters to try the unthinkable

Photo by Harrison Keely via FreeImages | Supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump violently stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

Trump’s voter fraud lies were always rooted in extremism

The most blatant appeals to those on the far-right were those aimed at the QAnon-contingent of Trump supporters. QAnon is an extremist movement centered around the conspiracy theory that a “deep state” cabal of satanic pedophiles are secretly controlling world governments.

Author Screenshot | Trump shares a quote from One America News promoting the debunked Dominion Voting Systems conspiracy theory, which originated in QAnon circles.
Author Screenshot | Steven Nelson, a reporter for The New York Post, shares a photo of a QAnon supporter, Jake Angeli, standing on the Senate dais after infiltrating the U.S. Capitol.
Author Screenshots | (Left) Nick Ochs, a member of Proud Boys Hawaii, shared a selfie on Twitter of him smoking a cigarette in the Capitol. (Right) Sparrow Media confirms that Baked Alaska, aka Tim Gionet, broke into Capitol offices on January 6.

January 6 was historic, but unsurprising

Since losing the election, Trump had successfully convinced his most ardent supporters that by some mechanism — legal or extralegal — he would remain president on January 21, 2021.

Trump repeated unfounded voter fraud allegations and told the crowd “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a county anymore.”

Radicalization doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Trump’s supporters acted the way they did because they sincerely believed the claims peddled to them by Trump and right-wing media. Voter fraud lies and conspiracy theories have been debunked over and over again since the 2020 election, but most Republicans still believe them. A Quinnipiac poll from December found that 77 percent of Republicans believed widespread fraud affected the 2020 election.

Republicans, right-wing media still haven’t learned their lesson

Right-wing conspiracy theories have grown in popularity over the last year, due in part to uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the social unrest that consumed the United States last year. Security officials and terrorism researchers have warned that the right’s embrace of conspiracy theories could result in more politically motivated violence. However, some have indicated the violent risks could subside once Trump leaves office.

“It really matters that the president of the United States is an arsonist of radicalization. And it will really help when that is no longer the case.”

“Leadership matters,” Kori Schake, a former senior adviser in the State Department, Defense Department and the National Security Council, told NPR. “It really matters that the president of the United States is an arsonist of radicalization. And it will really help when that is no longer the case.”

Law student, writer and photographer. Follow me on Twitter @jaredcasto

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