- QAnon supporters believe that Trump will be reinstated as president on March 4, 2021.
- The conspiracy theory has its roots in the discredited beliefs of the sovereign citizen movement.
- It has gained popularity among QAnon followers after circulating on Telegram and Gam.
- Visit the Insider Business section for more stories.
QAnon supporters, unable to cope with Joe Biden’s elevation to the presidency in January, have now embraced a new belief to argue that the next legitimate inauguration date will be March 4.
After President Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021, some QAnon believers concluded that his conspiracy theory was a “lie.” But his most fervent followers were unwilling to give up their conspiratorial beliefs, clinging to the absurd hope that former President Donald Trump will be sworn in at a later date.
Using ever-changing goal posts, pro-Trump conspirators have now set their sights on March 4, 2021.
Where does the conspiracy theory come from?
The belief that Trump will be sworn in on March 4 is rooted in theories promoted by the shadowy sovereign citizen movement.
The sovereign citizen movement is a highly fragmented group of Americans who believe that taxes, American currency, and even the United States government are illegitimate.
A minority of them believe that the laws do not apply to them at all, resulting in the FBI designating some members as “domestic terrorists” and “anti-government extremists.”
A central tenet of the movement is that the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, turned “sovereign citizens” into “federal citizens.”
This belief also comes to rule out the validity of any presidency after 1868, making Ulysses S. Grant the last valid president.
The ideas are esoteric and possibly nonsensical.
“You really feel like you’re in an Alice in Wonderland world when you start to analyze the ideas of sovereign citizens,” Michael Barkun, emeritus professor of political science at Syracuse University, told Insider. “It’s like you’ve fallen down some kind of rabbit hole in a parallel universe.”
Some sovereign citizens also believe that an obscure 1871 law reveals that the United States has become a corporation.
The Organic Law of the District of Columbia established a single municipal government for Washington, DC. The use of the word “corporation”, referring to an incorporated district, has led to the misinterpretation that this means that the entire United States became a business.
“Some believe that President Joe Biden is the executive of a bankrupt corporation, United States Inc.,” said Travis View, an expert on conspiracy theory and host of the QAnon Anonymous podcast.
Creating an alternate reality based on a misinterpretation of a minor detail in an old law is typical of conspiracy groups, Media Matter deputy research director Stefanie Le told Insider.
“They can create elaborate mythologies based on the smallest and least significant details,” he said.
Why on March 4?
Before the 20th Amendment in 1933, all presidents were sworn in on March 4.
It was introduced to shorten the “lame duck” period between elections and the start of new administrations.
Since supporters of the sovereign citizen movement reject all constitutional amendments passed after the 14th amendment, they do not see this date change as legitimate.
QAnon supporters, who did not see Trump inaugurated in January, have recycled the argument and reinvented the next legitimate inauguration date.
They say that on March 4, 2021, Trump will succeed the last legitimate president, Grant, to become the 19th president.
He told Insider: “Now that one of their most anticipated events, the January 20 inauguration, has not come true, they are looking for explanations of other conspiracy theories.”
View said he has no clear logic other than blind faith that Donald Trump is the one chosen to save humanity.
‘Maybe we should meet again and storm the Capitol on March 4’
The adoption of conspiracy theories by other groups to contribute to a specific imaginary narrative is not unexpected.
It’s QAnon’s method of survival “because his own predictions have fallen apart,” Le said.
QAnon’s fan-filled forums are now full of chatter about March 4th.
Telegram and Gab have led the way according to a Media Matters investigation seen by Insider, and it is circulating widely on 4Chan and the right-wing Patriots.win forum, the researchers said. The rumors also reached TikTok, The Independent reported.
There have been real-world consequences for the March 4 rumors.
In particular, the Trump’s DC hotel has raised prices for March 3-4. It is the only luxury hotel in the area that has increased its rates for those nights.
The US Capitol Police, fearing potentially violent clashes, ordered nearly 5,000 National Guard soldiers to remain stationed in Washington, DC, on March 4.
Representative Adam Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, addressed the conspiracy theory during a hearing on the matter.
“Some of these people have realized that apparently 75 years ago, the president took office on March 4,” he said. “Okay, now why is that relevant? God knows. Anyway, now they’re thinking, ‘maybe we should meet again and storm the Capitol on March 4’ … that’s circulating online.”
A Democratic HASC spokesperson told Insider that Smith had seen reports identifying March 4 as “another turning point” in the capital.
“The role of the House Armed Services Committee is to validate that military personnel are used in accordance with their aligned duties and requirements,” the spokesman said.
Will QAnon ever give up?
Security is also expected to be high throughout March in anticipation of the as-yet-unscheduled State of the Union address.
The Capitol Police plan to maintain a high presence due to intelligence suggesting that extremists have discussed plans to attack the Capitol building during the speech, Politico reported.
Experts, however, do not expect the insurrectionary violence of January 6 to be repeated on March 4.
Barkun, who previously advised the FBI on security threats posed by extremist groups, said he is confident that enough attention is being paid to QAnon’s activities.
View also doubts that there is widespread violence. “I think the events of January 6 scared a lot of Q fans,” he told Insider.
But none of the experts Insider spoke to believe QAnon will disappear anytime soon. It’s commonplace for conspiracy theory groups to grapple with incorrect predictions just by kicking the can down the road.
“They will build increasingly complex rationalizations that will drive the events they want more and more into the future,” Barkun told Insider.