Experts have warned the potential for further humiliation next month after another one of their predictions fails to come to pass will not damage the QAnon movement and they will continue to pose an extremist threat.
Followers of the radical movement, listed as a domestic terrorist threat by the FBI, have penciled in March 4 as the next significant date in their calendar, believing this will be the day Donald Trump is reinstated as president.
The latest theory, following on from the failed prediction that Trump would order the mass arrest and executions of satanic pedophiles during Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, uses arcane reasoning heavily lifted from the beliefs of the sovereign citizen movement.
According to QAnon followers, a secret law was passed in 1871 which turned the U.S. into a corporation. As a result of this, all other presidents after Ulysses S. Grant have been illegitimate, meaning Trump will become the 19th president during a new inauguration on March 4.
The reason behind the March 4 date is that this is when presidential inauguration ceremonies used to take place before it was moved to January 20 in 1933. That year is significant to sovereign citizens as it was when the U.S. went off the gold standard, which they take to mean the country had become bankrupt.
With guaranteed certainty, Trump will not be sworn back into the White House next month. In fact, none of QAnon‘s predictions, the very first one being Hillary Clinton would be arrested in August 2017, have come true.
For QAnon, Trump losing the election then failing to fulfill the long-awaited prophecy known as “the storm” on January 20 was all part of the ever-changing “plan.”
When March 4 comes and goes with Biden still president, researchers say this will not deter QAnon, who will instead move onto the next prediction to give them hope. However, following the Capitol attack, the whole world now knows what QAnon are capable of, with next month considered a new test of their faith.
“Individuals who are part of cults tend to double down on new events that may be on the horizon, and they may feel a need to act upon activities to help create that event,” Jason Blazakis, senior research fellow at The Soufan Center, told Newsweek.
Blazakis said those who have not already left QAnon after feeling disillusioned over Biden’s inauguration will be the “hardliners”—who tend to be the most dangerous.
“Those that have stayed behind within the movement, in essence, have doubled down,” he said. “Those who are most committed are the most likely to carry out violent activity.”
Zachary Haldeman, a senior analyst at think thank RAND Corporation and former intelligence officer, said the way QAnon evolved down the years means it will be sure to survive the latest failed prediction and no longer even needs Trump.
“It’s long ceased to be this online Live Action Roleplay. It’s not just a conspiracy theory anymore, conspiracy theorists don’t lead rioters into government buildings. QAnon is a fully fledged social movement,” Haldeman told Newsweek.
In the wake of Biden’s inauguration, far-right groups such as the Proud Boys also attempted to sweep up the disinfected QAnon supporters by trying to recruit them in online forums and apps such as Telegram.
The Proud Boys themselves have become increasingly fractured. In the past few months they have dealt with former leading member Kyle Chapman denouncing chairman Enrique Tarrio and urging the group to fully embrace white nationalism, their members being arrested in connection to the Capitol attack, and a number of local chapters also turning on Tarrio after it was revealed he allegedly used to work as a police informer.
For Blazakis, this coming together of the two groups amid turbulent times could make them both even more dangerous.
“If you have an injured animal cornered, they are even more likely to lash out and become violent,” he said. “So that’s an analogy I would draw here as it relates to both Proud Boys and QAnon.”
It is unclear what QAnon followers are planning for March 4, if anything, with factors such as the arrests in the wake of the January 6 insurrection sure to be playing on their mind. Both Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Departments have said they are aware of the significance on March 4 for QAnon and are monitoring any potential threats.
“Right now, it seems to me to be mostly a rallying cry,” Blazakis said. “I haven’t seen any concrete indications that there is an organized move in the same way that we saw on January 6, but I do believe we are still weeks away from that.”
For Haldeman, the future of QAnon is certain even without Trump as long as a significant number of its supporters continue to believe the movement is merely attempting to protect children from abuse.
“It does have this powerful core belief in the cabal that makes a lot of people feel okay to be a part of QAnon, because they think they’re saving the children.
“Not all QAnon people wanted to overthrow the government. They see that and say, ‘Well, that’s just one element within QAnon , but I joined to bring justice.
“That’s something that no other alt-right group has. That is what the future of QAnon hinges on.”