As the investigations into the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol ramp up, it’s becoming increasingly clear that right-wing QAnon adherent Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was a leading advocate of declaring martial law after Donald Trump’s election defeat. This week, Judge Charles Beaudrot pondered whether to recommend to the Georgia secretary of stateUnder a post Civil War law that was meant to stop insurrectionists occupying public office, she should be barred from running for her seat once again. The House investigative committee discovered that Greene had texted Trump’s then-Chief of Staff Mark MeadowsYou can inquire about martial law.
Whether that technically meets the definition of “insurrection,” I’ll leave to the lawyers and constitutional scholars. And what about Greene’s preposterous statement that she couldn’t remember whether she asked about martial law stands up in court, as well as all the other instances of memory failure that she claims to have relating to that day of infamy, I’ll also leave to the experts. However, it is clear that Greene now has a long incriminating document trail for placing herself on the morally unsound side of many issues and sinking into a sea of absurd conspiracy theories. It’s not just about siding with a dictator who refuses to concede electoral defeat, and his mob willingly to shed blood to keep him in power.
She is, afterall, the one who suggested space lasers were responsible for California’s spate of devastating wildfires and who all but accused Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama of assassinating their political enemies, including, in Clinton’s case, John Kennedy Jr.
However, Greene’s message is just as absurd as Trump’s. In her willingness to embrace any and every conspiracy theory so long as it jazzes up her base, she’s fine-tuning the craft of demagoguery, launching a freewheeling assault on the concept of truth. And in her endless entanglement with political violence, she’s throwing cans of gasoline on an already raging political fire.
Greene, her fellow Rep. Paul Gosar, as well as a number of prominent state lawmakers, spoke at an event earlier this year. avowedly white nationalist event hosted by the America First Political Action Committee.
Greene is also alleged not to have used her facebook page in 2018 or 2019. to advocate killing senior Democrats.
The list of Congresswoman Greene’s absurdities and obscenities is a long one, and the case that she ought not to be anywhere near the halls of power is, in my mind, pretty watertight.
But the question is, should it be the courts that make this decision or should it be the people who sent her to Congress?
I fear this trap is being set. Because Greene has pushed violence against the very political institution that she is a part of, it’s at least possible that Judge Beaudrot will end up deciding she isn’t fit to be in Congress. But, what if he makes this recommendation?
The voters in rural northwest Georgia who sent Greene to Washington, D.C. in 2020 aren’t going to be any less prone to support her if a judge seeks to banish her from Congress. Instead, they’re likely to view it as yet more evidence that the fix is in, that the supposedly all-powerful “Deep State” has tentacles capable of plucking from power anyone who steps outside the closely monitored boundaries of acceptable political discourse. They are right. in 2020, as an unapologetic QAnoner, she won her race by more than 225,000 votes — despite, or maybe because of, the vast national attention generated around her toxic presence on the campaign trail.
Trump has been using Greene to rally his supporters. David Perdue, a potential gubernatorial contender, has also been supporting Greene via Twitter. There is a real risk here that Greene, one of the weirdest and most demagogic of the U.S.’s copious crop of demagogic 21st-century personalities, will be made an icon of the right through this case.
This year, it was earlier. the boundaries of Greene’s district were redrawnCobb County’s historically Black areas will be included in the district. They will be more liberal than the rest. That doesn’t mean the district is about to flip anytime soon. It was, and remains, an overwhelmingly Republican district — one that voted for Trump by a margin of over 50 points in 2020. It does offer a glimpse into how a long-term strategy to defeat figures like Greene might work. Her opponents may be able gradually to chip away at her conservative support base, while at the same, they might start building as broad and large a reform coalition in the areas where progressive change might take root.
That’s hardly a satisfying short-term solution to the dangers posed by political figures such as Greene. Paradoxally, it could be a better outcome than barring Greene from running for reelection. For if Judge Beaudrot prevents Greene from running in 2022, it’s entirely possible that a majority of voters in her district, which is one of the most radical-right-leaning in the country, could turn around and either write her in as a candidate, or elect someone else cut out of the same cloth.
It is truly scary that Greene was supported by hundreds of thousands Georgians in 2020. It is equally terrifying that they continue to support Greene today, and will continue supporting her regardless of what the court decides. That tens of millions support Trump and his vicious attacks on the democracy’s infrastructure is a nightmare. This nihilistic, irrational and violent movement truly must be deconstructed — but to really carry water, that takedown must come from a populace that is empowered and educated on the dangers of demagoguery, rather than from the courts. That’s a vastly difficult undertaking — and time is not on the side of the anti-demagogues these days — but it’s an essential one if the U.S. system of democracy is to survive the forces that have pushed to the fore, and continue to elevate, political figures such as Greene.