As I write this, the conversation around the Republican Party is being hogged by a handful of freshmen Representatives who are seen as crazy. Marjorie Taylor Greene has a gold medal in pissing people off due to her insane past, with a movement in Congress already existing to get her kicked out of it, although Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert is going for the silver with her habit of bringing her gun into Congress in spite of House rules against it. Both of them have become infamous for, among other things, their embrace of Q-Anon and their fighting with top Republicans like Liz Cheney and Kevin McCarthy.
However, one of my biggest fears is that Democrats end up only going against a handful of insane cartoon characters while ignoring why these people feel comfortable in the Republican Party in the first place. Because make no mistake, people like Greene are not so much “radicals within the Republican Party,” as I’m sure will be claimed, but instead the logical endpoint of what the Republican Party has been pushing for decades.
The biggest thing Greene is being criticized for is her “insane conspiracy theories.” While I agree much of what she believes is insane, easily debunked, and nonsensical, believing things on that level has been Republican orthodox since the Trump administration started. A video uploaded by Vox on 11/22/2017 points out that Sean Hannity had spent the entire Trump administration up until that point promoting conspiracy theories — specifically that Hillary Clinton sold uranium to Russia for donations to her foundation, that Seth Rich was murdered, and that a woman accusing Roy Moore of rape was lying. Alex Jones himself even noted around the same time that “the Sean Hannity show has become the Alex Jones show,” and that what he said on his program was repeating on Hannity’s a few days later.
Over the years, Hannity has also promoted the theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and that Clinton aide Vince Foster was murdered by the Clintons.
Hannity is also the most well-known person on Fox News, as well as their second most-watched personality. Donald Trump himself is a big fan of Hannity, with Hannity even being called the “shadow chief-of-staff” due to how much the President listens to him. Rush Limbaugh has also promoted all of the conspiracies mentioned above, and not only is Trump friends with Limbaugh, but reports reveal that Trump used Limbaugh while in office to see how policies were playing with his supporters. And Limbaugh has been a big dog in at least two other major Republican victories — the Revolution of 1994 which put Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole in power, and the 2010 victory of the Tea Party as well as the sinking of John McCain’s 2000 Presidential Campaign against George W. Bush.
Do you know who else has promoted the Birther theory? The new face of moderate Republicans herself, Liz Cheney. In 2009, she was the keynote speaker at the Center for Security Policy, a well-known conspiracy-theory think tank that helped push the Birther nonsense into the mainstream. The founder of the organization, Frank Gaffney, has argued that Muslims are involved in everything from the Oklahoma City Bombing (for which he blamed on Saddam Hussien) to Hillary Clinton’s staff as Secretary of State. Of Muslims, he said:
They essentially, like termites, hollow out the structure of the civil society and other institutions, for the purpose of creating conditions under which the jihad will succeed.
And yet people are surprised to find posts on Greene’s FaceBook connecting Rashada Talib to 9/11? This is the same party that allowed Louie Gohmert to claim that Barack Obama planned to bring back The Ottoman Empire. This is the same party that made Glenn Beck a spokesman after he asked Keith Ellison to prove he wasn’t “working for the enemy” in 2006. This is the party that had its 2016 Presidential Nomination run on banning Muslims from entering the United States — a policy which he later had no choice but to soften.
To put it simply, Greene is not some radical diversion from Republican norms, as many cable news commentators are saying, but an application of them. The major difference between and her and Kevin McCarthy is not in what they believe, but in what they say. McCarthy will throw Q-Anon a bone every now and again, while people like Greene are the bones being thrown.