Former President Donald Trump’s reported interest in forming a new political party—which has been embraced by conservative media personalities such as Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs—has roots in far-right Facebook groups and QAnon message boards, a further sign of the influence the internet fringe appears to have on Trump.
After the Wall Street Journal reported Trump was considering establishing a political party, Dobbs quickly took to the idea, saying on his show Wednesday that the “influence” of a new Trump-led political party “could be positive” and that the name reportedly under consideration—the Patriot Party—had a “great ring to it.”
“After all the betrayals and back-stabbings we’ve seen recently from so-called Republican leaders,” Trump “may be on to something,” Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk said, while George Papadopoulos claimed on Twitter Tuesday that the “Patriot Party will be a viable third party” and commentators debated the idea on Fox News’ The Five.
The idea to create a third party was previously floated by QAnon influencers such as @Qtah17 in November, who wrote on Twitter that Trump was “totally transforming” the Republican Party, and announcing that the “Patriot Party had arrived.”
Far-right social media personalities such as Lin Wood—who has also touted QAnon—and James Woods circulated logos for a “Patriot Party”—a picture of a lion—in late November, as Republicans slowly came around to accept the reality that their candidate had lost.
Support for the Patriot Party picked up steam as Trump and his supporters became increasingly disillusioned with then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who acknowledged Joe Biden as president-elect on December 15: “The only way to stop the RINO Senate is for Trump to form the Patriot party and unseat all of them next election,” Rick Saccone, a former Pennsylvania state representative who started his own Trump-aligned PAC, wrote on Facebook the same day McConnell encouraged Republicans not to challenge the electoral results.
More Trump supporters warmed to the idea for a new party after some Republicans blamed Trump for the far-right mayhem that erupted at the Capitol on January 6 and resulted in five deaths, with one user writing on Facebook—in a post that got over 11,000 “likes”—that he was “officially done with the Party of Republicans” because they were “too weak,” adding, “I will help form The Patriot Party of America.”
The donald dot win, a prominent pro-Trump message board spun off from the The_Donald Reddit forum after it was shut down by the platform, changed its name on Thursday to the patriot dot win. “If Trump moves forward with the rumored Patriots Party,” the moderators wrote, “then we’re perfectly positioned to fully support him in that endeavor.”
“We will be back in some form,” Trump told a modest crowd at Joint Base Andrews before departing Washington, D.C., well ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration, for Mar-a-Lago on Wednesday for the final time as president.
Asked about the Patriot Party during an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) replied, “I hope he doesn’t. I hope he stays the leader of the party.”
Third-party presidential runs have a poor track record. The most successful third-party presidential candidate in U.S. history was former President Teddy Roosevelt, who ran unsuccessfully as a member of the Bull Moose Party in 1912. Roosevelt, who left the Republican Party to form the Progressive Party, nicknamed “Bull Moose,” split the votes with GOP candidate William Howard Taft, ensuring victory for Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson. Third-party candidates played a larger-than-typical role in the 2016 election and contributed to Trump’s victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.