They aren’t putting their best face forward. After a disappointing 2022 midterm, Republicans have learned zero lessons, as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is poised to be the face of the GOP in the New Year—if she isn’t already.
The die was cast last month, when Greene broke with the right and endorsed Kevin McCarthy for Speaker of the House, and said that opposing him is a “bad strategy.” You don’t have to be Rasputin to see that Greene is trying to play kingmaker. If McCarthy becomes the Speaker (which seems more likely than not), she’ll be the one pulling the strings.
Meanwhile, Greene continues to provide an endless stream of controversy and demagoguery that is guaranteed to generate buzz and boost her stature. The most recent example came at the New York Young Republican gala on Saturday night, when she said: “If Steve Bannon and I had organized [the Jan. 6 riot], we would have won. Not to mention, it would’ve been armed.” (The insurrectionists should have been armed? )
It would be wrong to write off MTG’s violent rhetoric as an anomaly. In many ways, she has earned her status as queen bee of a Republican Party that reflects her values. Look no further than the aforementioned Young Republican event Greene addressed this weekend for proof.
According to a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, the event also included a speech by the group’s president, Gavin Wax, who declared: “We want to cross the Rubicon. We want total war. We must be prepared to do battle in every arena. In the media. In the courtroom. At the ballot box. And in the streets.”
In the streets?
Call me crazy, but it sounds like he’s calling for actual war. The rhetoric isn’t cute or harmless: it is all very literal—especially when put in the context of Greene’s comments about Jan. 6 and armed insurrectionists.
What do people think the end game is going to be? Based on past performance, we shouldn't dismiss this as mere hyperbole.
In case you’re not familiar, Brimelow runs the white nationalist site VDARE. Posobiec is best known for pushing the #Pizzagate conspiracy theory. Hammer is the opinion editor of Newsweek, once considered a premier news magazine, and an advocate of “national conservatism” (which raises the question of whether it’s going too far for me to connect the dots between national conservatism and white nationalism).
It’s hard to imagine the opinion editor of Newsweek, in say, 2015, cavorting with such extremists (according to the report, Hammer “shared jokes” with Posobiec and said he wanted to say “hi” to Brimelow). To be sure, spending time with all sorts of unseemly people is a job requirement (if not fringe benefit) for any curious opinion journalist. But in this situation, the line between observer and collaborator seems to have been crossed.
As I write this, I wonder if I am eliciting yawns from readers who have had their outrage receptors burned out since 2016 and may think this is all no big deal.
Let’s face the facts: We have lost the ability to be shocked anymore.
Once upon a time, talk of fighting in the streets was off limits. Once upon a time, a mainstream Republican event that prominently welcomed white nationalists who mingled with members of Congress and journalists would have been met with disbelief—and outrage.
Today, it’s all been normalized. The important thing to realize is that, by definition, this was not a fringe right-wing conclave, it was a mainstream Republican gala that took place in Manhattan—not the Michigan militia trading posts on 4chan. This was also the Young Republicans, once the anodyne home of Alex P. Keaton-esque conservatives (I know because I was a YR).
Along with Greene and the aforementioned names, former White House advisor Steve Bannon was at the gala. “America’s Mayor” Rudy Giuliani was at the gala. Son of the former POTUS, Donald Trump, Jr., was at the gala. We’re not talking about the fringe anymore. We’re talking about prominent names in the world of politics and journalism.
Aside from being dangerous, this also seems politically stupid.
A month after “candidate quality” issues doomed the Republican “red wave,” as candidates like Blake Masters, Kari Lake, and Herschel Walker all underperformed, Republicans seem destined to repeat history, while Democrats are committed to helping them do just that, partly by making sure Greene becomes the new face of the GOP.
By embracing Marjorie Taylor Greene and the cavalcade of weirdos, cranks, racists, and right-wing extremists she cavorts with, Republicans are preparing for another face-plant.