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The Problem of Marjorie Taylor Greene

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Sack’s post went unnoticed. Despite Greene’s preternatural talent for attracting attention, her obscurity within the political world worked to her profit within the early months, when her principal competition within the Sixth District’s Republican field was its former congresswoman, Karen Handel. As soon as Greene announced her campaign, she pledged her allegiance because the Trumpiest candidate in the first: “Everyone knows I support @realDonaldTrump. All the time have, right from the beginning!”

The last part was unfaithful: Greene didn’t vote within the 2016 primary, nor did she contribute to Trump’s campaign until a couple of weeks before he was elected president. What was true was that “right from the beginning” of her own campaign, Greene was telling local Republicans that she intended to run just as Trump had: all heat and hyperbole, reliant on small online donations and her personal wealth relatively than the establishment Republicans who wanted nothing to do along with her. Like Trump, she described herself as a successful business owner. His campaign slogan was “Make America Great Again”; hers was “Save America Stop Socialism.”

Few believed she had any probability of winning — probably not against Handel, and almost actually not in the final election against the incumbent Democrat, Lucy McBath. Then Greene received a decisive break. That December, Tom Graves, the G.O.P. congressman representing the 14th District in northwest Georgia, announced that he wouldn’t run for one more term, one in a growing number of multinational Republicans who had made for the exits through the Trump era. An open seat, in a district that Trump carried by 53 points in 2016, was suddenly up for grabs. Though Greene had made a virtue of her residency within the Sixth District — even telling the local podcast host Ben Burnett just a few days before Graves’s surprise announcement: “I understand our district. I understand it uniquely, since it’s where I’ve all the time lived, and it’s where I’ve raised my family and worked for thus a few years” — she would now cheerfully run as a carpetbagger.

Immediately, her political fortunes modified. Running as a Trumpist firebrand in a suddenly vacant seat, Greene received pledges of support from essentially the most distinguished conservative within the G.O.P. House, Jim Jordan of Ohio; and Debbie Meadows, the wife of Trump’s eventual chief of staff, Mark Meadows and founding father of Right Women PAC. Greene’s campaign staff immediately printed a flyer highlighting Jim Jordan’s seal of approval. Her first campaign ad began with “AOC desires to plunge us into Communism,” referring to Ocasio-Cortez, and ended with “President Trump needs more support in Congress.” After a Black man, George Floyd, was killed by a Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day and nationwide protests erupted, some resulting in violence and significant property damage, Greene posted on June 2 on her campaign website a video of herself holding a custom AR-15 pistol, accompanied by these words: “Here’s my message to ANTIFA terrorists: Stay the HELL out of NW Georgia. You won’t burn our churches, loot our businesses, or destroy our homes.”

Already covering two races that would determine control of the Senate, the Georgia media took little notice of the congressional race within the state’s northwestern corner — much less of the rich far-right conspiracist who didn’t even live within the district. But in her hundreds of doorstep conversations within the 14th District, Greene didn’t encounter indifference. Nobody was laughing in her face for describing AOC and Antifa as enemies of America. Nobody lectured her on the imprudence of wielding a military-style weapon in campaign ads. Quite the opposite: Walking door to door throughout northwest Georgia, Greene could see very early on, she would tell me greater than a yr later, that its constituents saw the world through the identical lens that she did. Inside days, she was certain that a majority of those voters could be hers.

On June 9, 2020, Greene got here in first within the G.O.P. primary, 19 points ahead of the establishment Republican who had been expected to win, the neurosurgeon John Cowan. Trump tweeted his approval: “A giant winner. Congratulations!” Within the August runoff, Greene thrashed Cowan (whose endorsers included the House minority whip, Steve Scalise) by 14 points. At her victory party in Rome that evening, the exultant winner said of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “We’re going to kick that bitch out of Congress.”

The subsequent day, Greene received a congratulatory phone call from the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, who later told a confidant (in line with that person), “Clearly, I’m going to have to sit down her down and tell her that you would be able to’t call the speaker a bitch.” As a substitute, Greene tripled down. The day she received congratulations from McCarthy, she memorialized her “kick that bitch out of Congress” sentiment on Twitter. The day after that, she told a Georgia radio interviewer: “In a fired-up moment, I did call her a grimy name. But I don’t back down. I don’t apologize.”

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