President Joe Biden wants to “lower the temperature” of politics. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14) would prefer to crank it higher.
Greene, a University of Georgia alumna, has not been shy about her loyalty to former President Donald Trump, even into Biden’s presidency. Three weeks into the new year, a freshly inaugurated Biden pleaded with his country to help put an end to the “uncivil war” of partisan polarization. Political division has only deepened through the close of the Trump era, as the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and the former president’s second impeachment rang in 2021.
Greene’s attempt to impeach Biden on his first day in office only ingratiates herself with the millions who still approve of Trump, setting the tone early for minority opposition to the former vice president’s tenure. If there is a chance for the unity Biden seeks, Greene is not up to the task.
The controversies generated by Greene, are already too numerous to detail and, mere weeks into her term of office, continue to pile higher. A quick overview: She espoused the QAnon conspiracy theory, called the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, a “false flag” attack on Facebook and received a short Twitter ban for berating a Georgia election official. Add in her anti-Muslim prejudice and 9/11 trutherism, and you’re all caught up.
After the insurrection of Jan. 6, some Republicans are happy to leave Donald Trump and his style of governing in the past. But is the GOP’s future Marjorie Taylor Greene?
It was Greene’s “Save America, Stop Socialism” mantra with accompanying guns-and-explosions advertisement that beat eight other Republicans in the 2020 District 14 primary (and primary runoff) and carried her to Washington. Now in office, the limit of Greene’s influence is an open question with several factors in play.
How right-friendly media outlets treat Greene going forward will determine her success as a mouthpiece for Trumpism. So far, they have given Greene the benefit of the doubt. Tucker Carlson of Fox News equated the public outcry toward her conspiracies to a cancel culture disproportionately targeting conservatives. He did not grapple with any of her opinions explicitly. Greene announced her impeachment filing on Newsmax, a right-wing cable news stations that has steadily siphoned off views from Fox since election night.
The voting base of the GOP has been a strong but unlikely marriage of corporate interests and the socially conservative, religious right since the days of Ronald Reagan. Trump renewed those vows, invigorating a reactionary sect of the Republican base to run for office themselves. Now political outsiders from ‘flyover country’ have dozens of seats at the table alongside Ivy Leaguers and former CEOs.
After the insurrection, that marriage of the conservative electorate may be destined for divorce. Business leaders and big donors to the GOP want little to do with upending democracy. Indeed, many proponents of conservatism can’t support Greene.
Dalton Sherrod, the vice president of UGA’s chapter of Turning Point USA, has met Greene and is “not her biggest fan.” Although he hopes that a future ‘Unity’ bipartisan presidential ticket can stifle polarization, he recognizes the electoral potency of Greene “focusing heavily on the cultur[al issues]” that tend to divide Americans along party lines.
Any hope that compromise can be found in Washington cannot stem from someone who thinks the opposing party’s members should be shot dead, as Greene suggested via Facebook posts that she liked and replied.
Regardless, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) gave Greene, who verbally harassed a Parkland school shooting survivor, a seat on the Education and Labor Committee.
McCarthy is stretched thin managing lawmakers like Greene and members of his caucus who voted to impeach Trump. Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) condemned Greene’s “loony lies.” This lack of consensus between the two most powerful Republicans in government tells the whole story: The post-Trump GOP doesn’t know what to do with candidates who rode Trumpism into office.
Meanwhile, Democrats are at odds with Greene on both political and individual levels. Rep. Cori Bush (MO-1) moved her office away from Greene’s, citing safety concerns for herself and her team after Greene “berated” her. What are we to expect from our Congress when members make threats to their political opponents?
The House intends to vote on removing her from her committeeship in the coming days. Whatever McCarthy and McConnell eventually conclude, Greene’s ideas resonate with her constituents. They won her an election, and they have to be reckoned with if GOP leadership wants to avoid expanding the ‘QAnon Caucus.’ It's too soon to see whether Greene is the future of the Republican Party, but for the disaffected and radicalized whom she represents, there may be no time like the present to make a run for office.