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The GOP's toxic waste
Marjorie Taylor Greene now sits on no committees, useless to her constituents. And almost every House Republican hugged her, poisoning themselves.
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Marjorie Taylor Greene, the vile QAnon cultist in Congress who promotes dangerous lies and supported calls for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be executed, was removed from her committees last night in an action that Democrats absolutely had to take. It was the only morally right thing to do, as Greene, a House member from Georgia, has terrorized her colleagues, supported violence, disseminated QAnon conspiracies and refused to disavow just about all of it in clear terms.
The Republican minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, had refused to remove her, a responsibility he shirked while completely immersed in the cult of Donald Trump and drunk on the idea of grabbing power at the expense of promoting violence and hate. After a visit to Mar-a-Lago last week, McCarthy developed delusions that Trump, who cheerleads Greene — who, like many in QAnon, in turn worships Trump — will help deliver the House majority to him in 2022.
But there’s so much wrong with that thinking and the vote last night offered hints of it. This was yet another debacle in which the GOP, contrary to media reports, showed it’s not “split,” but is rather in lockstep with a fascistic, anti-democratic cabal. While it fires up a dangerous base, it will only alienate more people in the long run and should further energize Democrats.
Republican leaders made a “process” argument to keep most of their caucus from voting to remove Greene, losing only 11 members (which was actually nine more than some political observers thought would break). Even Liz Cheney, who made the principled decision with only 9 other Republicans to impeach Trump — which had her on the ropes as a member of the House leadership, though she survived in a secret ballot — voted to keep Greene on her committees even as she vociferously condemned Greene and her beliefs.
The argument that Cheney, like others, made is that the Republican leadership should make the decision to remove Greene, and that it was setting a dangerous precedent to have the opposition party in control of the House remove a member from his or her committee posts, something that had never been done.
Never mind that the gun-crazy, anti-mask lunatic is a danger to everyone, that your own party was refusing to do anything about it — and, most significantly, that Greene is scaring the living daylights out of millions of Americans.
Before the last two weeks, most people had never heard of Greene, who has the personality of a dragon fly and and shifts from evil smile mode to brutal anger mode at the drop of a hat in her looney videos as well as in public appearances. She has zero sense of humor and is just plain creepy. I was getting texts and emails from family and friends who don’t follow politics much, most of which were to the effect of, “Who the fuck is this Marjorie Taylor Greene and what’s up with her?” (Even Sean Hannity was distancing himself from her, attacking her beliefs as false and wacky — even if, ever the hypocrite, he later criticized Democrats for removing her.)
Trump, on the other hand, as much of a monster as he is to tens of millions of us, is obviously a long-time celebrity, pathologically adored by tens of millions of loyal people whom he’s entertained at rallies with his bigoted lies and crude, ugly humor. When only 10 Republicans broke on impeachment it wasn’t shocking, even if it was heinous and cowardly.
But with Greene, it was just stupid of the the great majority of Republicans to protect her. Most Americans won’t know or care about the “process” argument: They just see Republicans backing a woman they never heard of but now know stalks children, questioned whether or not 9/11 happened, claimed school shootings were false flags and supported the ideas espoused by a dangerous cult they’d recently come to know about called QAnon, which was involved in the insurrection. And that’s not to mention Greene’s antisemitic rant about Jewish space lasers causing California wildfires and other racist diatribes.
Yes, the most diehard of the diehard Trumpists will love Greene anyway. But for many others this is a bridge too far, just too frightening. It was telling that, while some of the 11 Republicans who voted to remove her from her committees also voted to impeach Trump, it was mostly a different group. Nicole Malliotakis, who represents Staten Island (New York City’s only red borough) and a small section of Brooklyn, surely knew that the 9/11 truther garbage from Greene wouldn’t go over big back home, even though Malliotakis is a hardcore Trumpist and voted against impeachment.
But perhaps more interesting is that though Malliotakis is in a state that currently has gerrymandered Congressional districts favoring Republicans — one of which she enjoys — she will soon see the state redistricted by Democrats with a supermajority in the legislature and a Democratic governor. And that’s likely why Trump loyalist and right-wing nutbag Chris Jacobs from a district in Western New York (just outside Buffalo) voted against Greene (as did vulnerable Republican John Katko, who represents the Syracuse area, and wisely also voted for impeachment the second time, even though he didn’t the first time).
These members know that if they’re not in a completely gerrymandered district, it would be treacherous to have voted to protect Greene.
Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick, whose district is in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and Young Kim, whose district is in Orange County, California, both vulnerable Republicans, didn’t vote to impeach Trump but both voted to remove Greene from her committees. Perhaps not coincidentally, they were among several House members who became the target of recent Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s ads — a six figure ad buy — because of their refusal to vote for impeachment, ads tying them to QAnon and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
The ads are brutal, but not untrue: They hold GOP members who didn’t vote to hold Trump accountable responsible for promoting the insurrection and groups connected to it, like QAnon.
Fitzpatrick represents a competitive Philadelphia suburb — one of the most competitive districts in the country —and Kim took her seat from Democrats in 2020, who’d taken the Orange County district in the 2018 blue wave, and hope to take it back in 2022.
This shows the QAnon connection has a poisonous effect — certainly seeming to put fear into some Republicans who’ve seen ads run against them — and there are many other vulnerable House members who stuck with the House leadership rather than wisely breaking. Another Orange County GOP freshman, Mike Garcia, took a seat back from Democrats in 2020 by only 400 votes — and sided with Greene, in addition to voting against impeaching Trump and voting to overturn the election.
McCarthy is hoping that because Trump helped the GOP down ballot, and because of gerrymandering this year by GOP-controlled state legislatures, he can win back enough seats to take the House with Trump’s help in 2022. And the party in the White House usually loses seats in the mid-term after the election.
But conventional wisdom on many things in theTrump era has not panned out. Trump has rarely helped Republicans when he’s not on the ballot — his cultish fans, who often don’t vote at all or only occasionally, don’t turn out, while Democrats turn out en masse, energized to vote against him when he goes to localities and holds rallies for other Republicans.
That happened in the 2018 mid-terms — where Democrats were expected to have a modest win or even barely lose in the House, but turned out to have a blow out — and it happened again and again in governors’ and senate races, including in Georgia in the runoffs last month.
Now Democrats will be running in 2022 not only against Trump but against QAnon, a force perhaps even more dangerous than Trump and one he helped spawn, which is sweeping people into insane conspiracies. Many are losing their family and friends and worried about the violence QAnon instills, particularly since the storming of the Capitol.
Meanwhile, as Marjorie Taylor Greene becomes a martyr and hero for the QAnon movement — and to many in the Trumpist base, which is raising her a lot of money — she could lose re-election. After Iowa racist Republican Steve King was stripped of his committees — rightly by GOP leaders — he lost power and influence, and eventually lost re-election, defeated in a GOP primary.
CNN interviewed people in Greene’s district last night who had voted for her but now believe she’s a detriment — either not having known about her past or seeing the way she’s handling it now and promoting herself — and won’t be voting for her again. The day after her removal from committees she was defiant, saying she was now “freed” to do what she wants, which presumably means being a crackpot firebrand.
The people back home, like the people in King’s Iowa district eventually, might rather she do what they sent her to Congress to do — be on committees, working on legislation and producing for the district — rather than being a complete waste, and a toxic one at that.
What all this means for progressives is that we must view 2022 just as we viewed 2018: An election that our lives depend on if we’re to stop this anti-democratic, fascistic movement within the GOP, which could still surge back into power. Joe Biden and the Democrats have to show clear wins on big legislation. But then we need to organize to keep the House and the Senate, as if our rights and our very democracy are in the balance — because they are.