Hall of infamy: Marjorie Taylor Greene
JOB: Republican Member of US Congress from Georgia’s 14th District
REPUTATION: More Trump than Trump
In any other country, Marjorie Taylor Greene would have been disowned by any supposedly serious political party. But if you want idiocy coated in patriotic self-righteousness, there’s nowhere quite like the backwoods of the good ol’ US of A. This makes Greene, the 47-year-old former ‘fitness instructor’ who entered Congress after a landslide victory in a Republican-owned Northwest Georgia seat last year, the perfect culture warrior to restore the values of the conformist 1950s when everyone knew their proper place.
All the conspiratorial tropes of the Far Right jump readily off Greene’s tongue – though she has slightly reined herself in since being elected. She has promoted the white supremacist ‘Great Replacement’ conspiracy theory, given credence to the true believers of QAnon (who allege cannibalistic satanic paedophiles are plotting against Trump) and once even suggested that space lasers controlled by Jews were responsible for California wildfires. She has engaged in outright denial and promoted the notion of ‘false flag’ operations being carried out to undermine gun rights. In the latter were included mass shootings at Sandy Hook, at a daycare centre in Connecticut and at an LGBTQI+ night club in Orlando.
Of course, the Central Myth militantly maintained by Greene and most other Trump supporters is that Donald actually won the 2020 election, and nefarious forces manipulated the results in favour of Biden and the Democrats. This is usually done without reference to any evidence – it is simply an article of faith. Greene isn’t shy about sporting a ‘stop the steal’ face mask – when she bothers to wear one at all.
Aside from the dependable ‘stolen election’ narrative, Greene is expert at pushing the hot buttons of the populist Right. She proclaims that the violent Trumpist assault on Congress on 6 January 2021 in which five people died was ‘a normal tourist visit’ and believes those arrested are being victimized for their patriotism. Greene lives in an alternative universe unknown to most rational people. Unfortunately, she does not live there by herself.
What is so distressing about Greene is not her vile and ridiculous politics, but how popular she remains. She is adept at plucking the strings of white fear and alienation. These days many poor Trumpster whites believe that while America is the greatest country that has ever existed, its political game is also rigged.
How to square this circle? Greene and fellow connoisseurs of the Republican Right fall back on a potent narrative of betrayal and redemption common in everything from classical and religious mythology to Hollywood movies. A rose-tinted nostalgia for a mythologized national greatness cuts to a betrayal by cunning ‘outsiders’ (peoples of colour, refugees, Muslims, liberals, gays, socialists – take your pick). Greene and her supporters then become the ‘white knights’ of redemption vanquishing the endless supply of conniving bad guys to restore God, Family and Country.
Greene has 414,000 Twitter followers and is so popular with the Republicans’ rightwing that she is considered a fundraising asset. In the first three months of 2021 alone, she pulled in some $3.4 million. Greene cherishes her new place in the Republican pantheon, which bestows upon her that most coveted of prizes in media-saturated American culture: celebrity.
LOW CUNNING: Most mainstream Republicans are too scared of their political futures to dare murmur the slightest criticism of Greene and her ilk. ‘Even if as one person she is a distraction,’ Illinois Democrat Brad Schneider said, ‘the failure of her party to call her out, to condemn her and to isolate her means she has become the face and the voice of the party.’
SENSE OF HUMOUR: Greene is the shameless court jester of the Republican Right. Her humour is crude and confrontational. She chased left-leaning Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez down the halls of Congress, screaming that she was a terrorist sympathizer for supporting Black Lives Matter and movements against fascism. Ocasio-Cortez refuses to go mano-a-mano with her, joking that as a bartender she got used to throwing people like Greene out.
Sources: The Hill; CNN; MSNBC; The Guardian; Slate; The Daily Mail; The New York Times; Yahoo News; Newsweek.