The Prevalence of QAnon Themes in Political Discourse
Salon’s Senior Politics Amanda Marcotte recently wrote about the pervasiveness of QAnon-related imagery in national news stories involving Republicans. She cites examples including Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing last month for the U.S. Supreme Court, where Senate Republicans “openly pander[ed] to QAnon” believers by accusing Jackson of having a “special fondness for child molesters.” The author also notes North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s disclosures last week that he had witnessed political leaders using drugs and that he had been invited to what the congressman described as an “orgy” by people he has “looked up to through [his] life.” Marcotte connects the false accusation of Jackson endorsing pedophilia and Cawthorn’s allegations of sex and drugs with the GOP’s “school board strategy,” noting, “The party is increasingly dependent on QAnon and other conspiracy theory communities for funding, voter drives, and general energy. But, as this Cawthorn debacle shows, that community’s addiction to titillating tales of political debauchery needs constant feeding.”
With a record number of anti-trans and anti-gay bills filed in 2022 (including a recently enacted law in Florida known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics), Republicans have argued that these bills are meant to protect children from being “groomed” by either pedophiles in schools or by those who would convert them homosexuality. The accusation of pedophilia, Marcotte writes, “has spread rapidly and is being heavily applied to any person who defends LGBTQ rights.” Polling from PRRI shows that 22% of Americans subscribe to at least some QAnon beliefs. Marcotte summarizes: “More critically, the research shows that the conspiracy theory is a good recruitment tool for the GOP, as it’s attracting people who were previously apolitical or even had liberal opinions. It converts those folks to the idea that Donald Trump—and ergo, the larger GOP—is somehow going to save humanity from the blood-drinking Satanic pedophiles.”
The Evolution of Political Parties in the Era of Extreme Partisanship
Charlie Cook for the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter recently wrote about the evolution of the American political system, which once included a center-left party and a center-right party with “substantial overlap between the two.” In the 1980s and 1990s, as an “ideological sorting” began, liberals within the Republican party and independents began to emigrate to the Democratic Party, while a similar shift occurred for conservatives. Cook compares contemporary politics to biologists’ consensus on the need for biodiversity: “It’s healthy to have parties with internal diversity, not only along lines of gender and race but geographical and ideological diversity, as well.” He notes that, just as inbreeding can distort certain characteristics in nature, it can also occur in politics, “creating a certain tone-deafness or an inability to see how anyone else might see an issue differently.”
Cook highlights the social science term “group polarization,” which describes the tendency of like-minded people to make group decisions that are more extreme than the individual members’ initial dispositions. As an example, data from PRRI’s 2021 American Values Survey demonstrates the extent of the current partisanship: slightly more than half of Americans (51%, including 55% of independents) say the Republican Party has been taken over by racists, compared to 45% who say it is trying to protect America from outside threats. On the other side, a majority of Republicans (84%) say the Democratic Party has been taken over by socialists. Cook noted that he is regularly asked, “Who is supposed to represent us?” to which he recently responded: “My answer is that with ideological sorting, the nature of the two parties will not change until the moderates or centrists decide they want to take back their respective parties, pulling the GOP back to the center-right and Democrats to the center-left.”
COVID-19 Pushes Religious Diversity into the Workplace
Kathryn Post for the Religion News Service reports on the impact of COVID-19 on the need for religious diversity in the workplace. While some companies have been striving to support religious diversity long before the pandemic, it has become a necessity for others in the past two years. Eboo Patel, the founder of Interfaith Youth Core, stated that there has been a decided increase in companies requesting guidance on religious diversity questions since 2019, including Walmart, AllianceBernstein, Edelman, and Starbucks, “from banks to PR firms to retail.” Post writes that despite recent leaps in workplace accommodation of faith, religious diversity efforts lag far behind other kinds of diversity measures.
Experts say that this is due to business leaders’ fear of either causing division or possibly mishandling the situation and causing tensions among religious groups that may affect workplace culture. Carolyn Chen, author of the new book “Work Pray Code,” said faith-based employee resource groups (ERGs) can “provide important spaces for religious minorities in what is often an unnamed but normative white, Christian culture.” Semiconductor manufacturer Texas Instruments, for example, provides serenity rooms for anyone who needs a place for daily prayer. An employee at Texas Instruments said that the company’s ”conscious hospitality toward Muslims” leads employees to invest in the company long-term. With younger generations of Americans (who also happen to be more religiously diverse) joining the workforce, Post writes that they will expect employers “to accommodate religious differences.” According to the PRRI’s 2020 Census of American Religion, the median ages of white Protestants, white Catholics and Black Protestants in the U.S. are all in the 50s. In contrast, the median ages of unaffiliated people, Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims are in the 30s.