Punishment has been dealt to Marjorie Taylor Greene, brought by the Democratic majority in response to the representative’s conspiracist declarations. Her party is forced to confront the ghosts of Trumpism.
The United States House of Representatives voted Thursday to strip recently-elected Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s assignments in congressional committees, in an unusual punishment imposed by the Democratic majority due to her history of embracing conspiracy theories and expressing her support for violent acts against her political rivals. The vote put Republicans in a dilemma as to whether they should support her and validate her toxic theories, or repudiate her, alienating the Trumpist base. In the end, Republicans voted massively against the repudiation, but the motion was successful due to the Democratic majority.
Little by little, as they leave Donald Trump’s all-encompassing shadow, Republican representatives will have to face the ghosts of the radical movement at which they threw themselves with no safety net. These ghosts are represented by no one better than Greene. At 47, she won one of Georgia’s seats in the House in November, thanks in part to an advertisement in which she appeared armed with an assault rifle, warning “Antifa terrorists” to “stay the hell out of Georgia.” In another video, she brandished the same assault rifle next to a photo collage of Alexandra Ocasio Cortez and other leftist youngsters. The time has come, she said, for “strong conservative Christians to go on the offense against these socialists who want to rip our country apart.” She defeated her Democratic opponent with 74% of the vote. Her activities during her first month in Congress have been to walk around with a face mask saying “Trump won,” continuously defend false allegations that Trump won the November election by a landslide, and write a few baseless articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden, only a day after his inauguration, alleging “abuse of power.”
Greene expressed her support for various far-right conspiracy theories, among them QAnon and Pizzagate, which claim that Democratic and Hollywood elites are part of a sect of pedophiles and cannibalistic Satan worshippers, and that Bill and Hillary Clinton murdered 50 associates. According to some of her crazy posts on social media that have been revealed in recent weeks, the congresswoman even stated that the recent California forest fires may have been caused by space lasers controlled by Jewish bankers. She also shared a video in which a Holocaust denier says that “Zionist supremacists have schemed to promote immigration and miscegenation.” She described the results of the 2018 midterm election as an “Islamic invasion.” She supported calls to assassinate Democratic political leaders and said many times that school shootings, such as in Parkland (Florida, 2018) and Sandy Hook (Connecticut, 2012), were staged to promote legislation in favor of gun control.
In the past few days, congressional Republicans were busy evaluating how to implement reprisals against one of their legislators — not Greene, but Liz Cheney, the third highest ranking Republican in the House, daughter of George W. Bush’s former vice president, with a long and respected career within the party. What was the motive? Frightened by the Jan. 6 Capitol invasion, she had voted in favor of the impeachment against Trump. Gathered behind closed doors, Republicans cast secret ballots and decided, 145 to 61, to not relieve Cheney of her assignments.
In regard to Greene, the Republican strategy until now has been to basically look the other way, as it has been doing with the radical segment that has taken hold of the party. The idea is to ignore her and go to her when it is necessary to secure votes from the Trumpist base, such as in the Georgia runoff to decide two Senate seats. However, the Democrats, who have a majority in the House, said enough is enough and announced a vote this Thursday to remove the congresswoman from her committee assignments. This astute move forced the Republicans to position themselves publicly.
It’s clear that a majority of Republicans are privately horrified with what Greene says. However, to publicly go against the woman who became one of Trumpism’s heroes, a specialist in social media lynching who still has enthusiastic support from the former president, is to many, to put their aspirations for reelection in jeopardy. Some Republicans want to see this Thursday’s vote as a battle for the soul of the party. But in the meantime, due to the Republican establishment’s unconditional and calculated adhesion to Trump over the past four years, that soul belongs to the radicals. That is because the Republican Party today is more Greene than Cheney.
Amidst the Republican debate, Sen. Mitch McConnell himself, who represented like nobody else the marriage of convenience between Trump and a party already radicalized by the tea party movement, said on Monday that “looney lies and conspiracy theories” (he did not explicitly mention her) are a “cancer” to the Republican Party. “Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality,” he said.
The slow, cautious and hesitant break that McConnell is leading against Trump illustrates the very same process that the party itself is going through. After the Capitol attack, it seemed that a critical mass began to understand, seeing with their own eyes the size of the monster that the Republicans had created. McConnell himself spread the idea that he would be open to condemning Trump in an impeachment process in the Senate. However, being a specialist in the art of deception, he ended up saying that he believed the Senate trial was unconstitutional.
Behind the scenes, Republican leadership in the House tried all day Wednesday to reach a deal with the Democrats to avoid the Republicans having to position themselves openly in a vote. Nonetheless, the only thing that could stop the vote, according to the Democrats, was a unilateral decision by the Republican Party itself to force Greene to abandon the two committees she is a member of, Budget and Education. The latter is especially significant given her opinions on the scourge of school shootings.
It is uncommon for the majority party in the House to vote to strip committee assignments from a member of the minority party, and it was that which Republicans appealed to, arguing that it would set a dangerous precedent to punish a representative for statements they made before occupying a seat in the House. “Past comments from and endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene on school shootings, political violence and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories do not represent the values or beliefs of the House Republican Conference. I condemn those comments unequivocally,” said Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy via a statement. However, he made it clear that he had no intention to adopt any measures against Greene, saying, “The Democrats are choosing to raise the temperature by taking the unprecedented step to further their partisan power grab regarding the committee assignments of the other party.”