Opinion: QAnon conspiracist Christiane Northrup jumps into GOP primaries / Andy O’Brien

Photo: Second District candidate Liz Caruso and Dr. Christiane Northup and the Maine Republican convention. 

QAnon influencer and best selling author Christiane Northrup of Yarmouth has turned her sights to the federal and local primary and general elections this year in effort to unleash an “army of angels” to vote for political candidates who sign on to an agenda rooted in apocalyptic conspiracy theories. 

In 2021, Northrup co-founded the group Maine Stands Up, an organization focused on eliminating vaccine mandates and public health measures. For the past year, she and her group have been carrying on a campaign to organize a reactionary movement uniting crunchy back-to-the-landers and New Age wellness types with Christian dominionists, far-right militias and Republican politicians. It’s a campaign that is already yielding results. 

Recently, the organization announced that former Governor Paul LePage and Republican congressional candidates Ed Thelander and Liz Caruso are among the 50 candidates who have signed on to MSU’s “The People’s Platform.”

While it’s easy to write off Northrup and her followers as a bunch of fringe kooks, the organization has sprouted numerous chapters all over the state, from Aroostook County to Kittery, to elect candidates that align with their hateful ideology. As we enter election season, we need to understand who these people are and work hard to prevent them from gaining political power.

At a church in Augusta this past February, the celebrity doctor delivered an unhinged sermon drawing on Christian Nationalist ideology and far-right conspiracies. She repeated misinformation about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the supposed dangers of vaccines. Using pseudo populist rhetoric, she spun dark tales about the “Great Reset” conspiracy — a paranoid and contradictory belief that a secret cabal of left-wing Marxists and billionaires with the World Economic Forum created the COVID-19 pandemic as part of a plot to install an authoritarian one-world government run by powerful capitalists and socialists. Northrup blames the current housing crisis on the shadowy left-wing capitalist oligarchy and claims that a representative from the World Economic Forum “came down from Davos” to ask a friend in Owls Head if the organization could rent all of her short term rentals for “illegal immigrants.”

“Don’t do it,” Northrup instructs the audience. “Don’t sell your house to one of these people!”

She invokes a version of the right-wing  “UN Agenda 21 conspiracy” that the World Economic Forum’s “15-minute communities” plan — to reorganize urban space around work, home, community and amenities — is actually a nefarious plot to pack people into “little stacking boxes” and brand them with QR codes to track their every move. Someone from the audience shouts out that a recent state law to reform zoning laws to allow for more residential housing is a part of the Davos conspiracy.

Northrup rails against phantom “deep state infiltrators” in our midst and asks Republican House candidate Guy Lebida of Bowdoin, who is in the pews, to “get all of the photos of the World Economic Forum people in Maine” and put them in his conservative newspaper. On the Maine Stand Up website, the organization targets members of the “Portland Global Shapers Hub” — an initiative of the World Economic Forum “to engage young people in solving communal problems” — as the shock troops trained to carry out the “Great Reset” and “end our civil liberties and medical freedoms.”

Northrup goes on to compare public health protections to slavery, quoting a Black friend who says Black Lives Matter “is a crime against humanity.” After she calls on the churchgoers to use their “spiritual authority and through Jesus Christ” to “take down the demonic” in Augusta, she pauses to gleefully tell an anecdote that the governor’s security team won’t let her go into the atrium of the Blaine House because there are too many windows and they are concerned about her safety. This draws boisterous laughter from the audience.

In contrast to demonic globalists, Northrup says, the conservative movement is actually a spiritual path rooted in love. That’s why, she tells the flock, we must “fix bayonets” like Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, unleash the army of angels and vote out the “demons.” She doesn’t just disagree with her liberal and left political opponents, she calls them “cockroaches” and a “regressive species,” to exuberant applause. Then building to a crescendo, Northrup launches into an apocalyptic sermon.

“I want a tidal wave… billions of them starting with the coast of Maine…. taking down the demonic starting with Augusta and all of the woke people and all of the Klaus Schwabbies on the coast of Maine,” she said, referring to the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, “take them out and send them back to hell where they came from and bar them from ever returning as the tidal wave goes out from Maine, as Maine goes, so goes the planet and we go all the way across the planet to California.”

Yoga teachers, wellness gurus and Christian nationalists

Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, Northrup — a former obstetrician-gynecologist, a women’s health guru and frequent Oprah guest — has drifted further and further to the right, using increasingly violent and dehumanizing rhetoric to target her opponents. She delivers her rambling daily communiques to thousands of followers on social media in a calm and soothing manner, but her sweet, touchy-feely demeanor belies a message that is full of hatred, rage and fear.

Over the past year, Northrup has traveled all over the state speaking at a variety of venues, from local Republican committee meetings and evangelical churches to more crunchy, bohemian events including a booze cruise, the “Soul-Stice Showcase” and a “Healing Arts Fair.” She has appeared alongside anti-Semitic QAnon influencers, anti-LGBTQ activists, a far-right sovereign citizen sheriff, anti-immigrant activists, Christian nationalists and Republican anti-vaccine legislators like Reps. Heidi Sampson of Alfred, Tracy Quint (Hodgton), Shelley Rudnicki (Fairfield) and Laurel Libby (Auburn).

At a water fast retreat, Northrup sent “blessings” to her fellow “patriots” who stormed the Capitol on January 6th. She is scheduled to speak alongside QAnon influencer and National Security Adviser to former President Donald Trump Michael Flynn at the “ReAwaken America” megachurch tour, which aims to spread Christian nationalism and fake election fraud conspiracies.

Some of her followers — which include yoga teachers, homeschoolers, alternative health entrepreneurs, wellness obsessed fitness buffs and homesteaders — were once liberal leaning, but have since become radicalized by the pandemic and vaccine mandates. Now, many have fully bought into Q-adjacent conspiracies that cast progressives, racial justice activists, medical professionals, scientists, the media and Democratic politicians as willing participants in a global conspiracy to control, subjugate and even wipe out God-fearing white Christians.

Northrup, like many of her right-wing comrades, has repeatedly alluded to a final showdown between the “light workers” and the “demons.” In a recent video with cancer-denial activist Jeff Witzeman overdubbed with a soft slide guitar, she rhetorically asks, “Do I get to pick the firing squad to kill these demons?”

She continues: “If you were a New Age person and you read books like ‘You Cannot Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought,’ you would be afraid that that thought is going to somehow lead you to ‘oh, oh, oh – cancel, cancel, cancel, I had a bad thought, I wanted to harm that person.’ No. I like those thoughts. I listen to Zev Zelenko say, ‘I am all for love and forgiveness and if anyone comes near my children, I will have no problem putting a bullet in their head.’ I want people to own that part of themselves because that is righteous anger. It is a cause of health.”

LePage and other Republican candidates back extremist agenda

Former governor and Republican candidate Paul LePage reads over the Maine Stands Up “People’s Platform” at the Maine GOP convention in April 2022.

At the Maine Republican Convention in April, Maine Stands Up member Katlin Hilton reported that she was able to convince LePage, First District Congressional candidate Thelander and Second District Congressional candidate Caruso to sign the Maine Stands Up “People’s Platform.”  LePage first asked for a slight language adjustment around the food sovereignty provision.

“The next day I went back and showed Governor LePage that we took what he said to heart and made the change,” wrote Hilton on the organization’s website. “Without me asking, he said he would now sign it! So I gave him the pen and the rest is history!”

Unfortunately, Maine Stands Up has not released the platform and would not respond to messages seeking a copy, but Hilton wrote that she and her husband developed it with a group of “republicans [sic], Christian’s [sic], alternative media sources, legislators, and house representatives.”

Maine Stands Up has also endorsed Republican anti-vaccine activist Brogan Teel of Brunswick for State Senate District 23 and Caruso in her Republican primary against former Congressman Bruce Poliquin. On its website, the organization called Caruso “a fearless advocate for medical freedom,” having worked on the failed people’s veto referendum campaign to repeal a law requiring public school students to receive their childhood vaccines. While Caruso has been considered a long shot candidate, she has received strong grassroots support for her hard right politics and there’s evidence Poliquin is getting nervous. 

In her speech at the Maine GOP convention, Caruso pledged to stand “strong against the liberal intellectual elite” and alluded to the Great Reset conspiracy as she railed against President Joe Biden’s desire to participate in the World Economic Forum with the “globalists,” which is a dog whistle to imply they are Jews. She described the Democratic president as a kind of Manchurian candidate — an enemy who is “tearing apart America from the inside,” undermining American sovereignty, “eroding national pride,” destroying the U.S. currency, “culturally deconstructing our society,” and “creating confusion as to what it is to have American values or to be an American.”

“It’s a battle of God and freedom versus evil and tyranny,” Caruso continued, “where a globalist regime and treasonous administration is usurping the government from its citizens, causing civilizational chaos, a crisis at every turn and weaponizing agencies and unelected bureaucrats from the citizens they were to serve.”

Caruso pledged to the audience that she would “fight hard to end big tech censorship and overtly biased press.” In recent interview on Newscenter’s 207 following the mass murder of Black shoppers and workers at the hands of a white supremacist gunman in Buffalo, New York, Caruso said she doesn’t “believe we have a problem with white supremacists just because [the Neo Nazi terrorist] was white” — despite the fact that his message clearly explained racism was his motive.

There is a word for a hyper-nationalist, anti-immigrant, authoritarian movement that promises to “end” a free press and presents its enemies as subhuman “cockroaches” who need to be destroyed before they destroy the nation. It’s called fascism. 

We’ll find out soon enough whether Caruso is successful next Tuesday, but in the meantime Northrup’s neofascist group is holding regular meetings across the state in Yarmouth, Kittery, Portland, Union, Unity, Brunswick, Farmington, Lincolnville, Auburn, Belfast, Kennebunk, the Caribou/Presque Isle area, Owl’s Head, Ellsworth, Saco, Greenville, Harrison, and Augusta. Everyone who is concerned about the fascist threat to our fellow humans and our democracy, needs to do their part to prevent these people from winning in November.

Andy O’Brien is the communications director for the Maine AFL-CIO, a statewide federation of 160 local unions representing 40,000 workers. However, his opinions are his own and don’t represent the views of his employer. He is also a member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445.

Maine Beacon, June 6, 2022, https://mainebeacon.com/