A self-involved siding contractor with a passion for CrossFit is not qualified to represent American democracy. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene clearly lacks world knowledge, professionalism, empathy, and an appreciation for bipartisanship. All this makes her the perfect candidate for President. Notwithstanding, she is a danger to our political system.
Marjorie Taylor Greene possesses no qualifications for U.S. Congress. Without an understanding of history and political science, she’s a know-nothing. She touts right-wing conspiracies, praises a twice impeached president, and pushes the “big lie.”
Greene leans toward racism, extremism, and isolationism. The new dark conservatism is where bipartisanship is synonymous with treason, and moderates are demeaned and drummed out.
Although the 2020 Election has passed, political sectarianism has fueled fear, mistrust, and extreme partisanship in America. The political parties view each other as alien, immoral, and deplorable.
Great rifts are fracturing democracy. The Varieties of Democracy Institute reports that the Republican Party has moved toward illiberalism, populism, and authoritarianism.
Greene, a newbie to Congress, spews extremist views condoned and validated by ultra-right conservatives. In Trumpian style, she attracts followers with outrageous and despicable rhetoric. Her comment regarding a “bullet to the head” of Speaker Pelosi surpassed even that of Trump.
Beware of Greene! Her narrow ideology and redefined rights and liberties are ego driven. She stocks survivors of mass shootings only to heckle and hurt via her interpretation of the First Amendment.
I fear Greene’s naivety and her need for attention. Her power, albeit limited at present, threatens our democracy.
In “The Death of Democracy,” Benjamin C. Hett maintains many in Germany did not see Hitler as a threat. He arrived on scene with no political experience, carrying only his honed communication skills and choreographed body language. Vice-Chancellor Papen assumed, in a few months after hiring Hitler, they would push him so far into a corner, he would squeak. In the end, Hitler’s vile hate speech shocked, thrilled, and aroused the masses. His imagined national identity appealed to the marginalized and drew in young and old. Greene and her colleagues are on a similar path.
As Italians feared Mussolini and Russians Stalin, most members of the GOP fear Trump. They continue to “kiss the ring.” As Hitler, Trump is not easily pushed into a corner. Alas, the sheep will give him a second term in 2024 and perhaps Greene the Vice Presidency. Hopefully, the ring will not be passed to the young, radical, unapologetic extremist. Greene, too dim to know what she’s doing, will happily highjack democracy. Here’s how she’ll do it.
First, she’ll make a successful “autocratic attempt.” Unheeded checks and balances, weaponized courts, and a weakened electoral system allow for an “autocratic breakthrough.” This sets the stage for a full blown “autocratic consolidation.” Along with a few cronies and family members, the autocrat sits atop her vertical structure, running the three branches of government without a Constitution to constrain. Without hope of reversal, the deal is locked in, and liberties and the rule of law disintegrate. Masha Gessen says the extreme GOP is working on this project right now. Americans must understand what’s in play.
In all her wisdom, Greene aids and abets the perpetrators. Knowing nothing of the system, she can’t, or won’t, safeguard it. Where are the gatekeepers? Political parties are meant to keep extreme demagogues off the mainstream tickets. They failed in the case of Trump and Greene.
In “How Democracies Die,” Levitsky and Ziblatt tell us, “Isolating extreme candidates takes courage.” Republicans lack courage. Our institutions are not strong enough to constrain authoritarians. Our Constitution must be protected by politicians, citizens, democratic norms, or democracy will fall.
We can only hope that Biden and the Democrats are strong enough to dismantle the vertical structure created by would-be autocrats. Americans might be too hungry for autocracy. Anxiety and chaos of a pandemic may have driven people to fear the future. It is easier to hand agency to authoritarians for the promise of stability and predictability.
Biden needs to speak out, show the GOP extremists for what they are—don’t just move on Mr. President. Marjorie Taylor Greene doesn’t have the intelligence or value systems to see where this path is leading. As Levitsky and Ziblatt tell us, “The tragic paradox of the electoral route to authoritarianism is that democracy’s assassins use the very institutions of democracy—gradually, subtly, and even legally—to kill it.”
At a time when America’s democracy is perhaps at its most vulnerable, the degree of power the executive holds is a clear indicator of the health of American democratic institutions. The most recent presidency of Donald Trump is exceedingly telling of America’s political climate, specifically through the lens of democratic erosion. The last four years have seen countless breaches of the executive’s democratic integrity, including politicizing the justice department, profiting off his executive position, and purposefully spreading false disinformation (Mier). With a populist leader like Trump currently out of the picture, American citizens need not look very far for another, oftentimes overlooked, threat to American democracy: Marjorie Taylor Greene. A representative for Georgia’s 14th congressional district, similarities to Donald Trump’s populist tendencies make Greene an exceptionally viable threat. Although the author’s use of ad hominem statements to discredit Greene seems to be an exaggerated attempt at undermining her legitimate role in government, Greene’s problematic statements in the past and fervent support of Donald Trump suggest that she is capable of assisting American democracy into additional democratic erosion.
Marjorie Taylor Greene’s comments on conspiracy theories have many American citizens questioning the legitimacy of her role as a congresswoman. While the fact that she is a “A self-involved siding contractor with a passion for CrossFit” has little to do with Greene’s public identity and credibility, Greene’s statements regarding events of the past are much more problematic. Greene has claimed that the terrorist attack on 9/11/2001 did not occur, that the school shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school was staged, and is a believer of, “QAnon – a conspiracy theory claiming that former President Donald Trump was waging a clandestine war on a Satan-worshipping cabal of child-abusers and cannibals” (“Marjorie Taylor Greene: US House Votes to Strip Republican of Key Posts.”). Greene’s unusual belief in conspiracy theories coupled with her position as a congresswoman in the public eye will likely be the cause of increased distrust in the government amongst Greene’s supporters and supporters of the extreme right.
Greene’s very belief in these conspiracy theories suggests a significant degree of distrust in the government, which Greene herself admits that she “didn’t trust the government that led her to dive more deeply into the conspiracy theory” (Bump). Greene not only believes in conspiracy theories that in part invalidate government institutions, she also blames the government for her distrust in its institutions. Having a strong distrust in American democracy on display for every American citizen is only prone to sow seeds of distrust amongst the people.
It is this very distrust that is exceedingly threatening to the democratic institutions of America. According to Stefan Foa and Mounk, American citizens have long been dissatisfied and distrusting of the democratic institutions under which they are governed, leaving younger, and often less educated citizens to be, “…increasingly open to authoritarian interpretations of democracy”. This openness to a more authoritative or autocratic ruler decreases citizen participation in democratic norms such as voting and rights to demonstrate and protest, as citizens are skeptical of their leaders to the point of “lost faith in U.S democracy” (Foa). During a time with increased polarization among parties as well as citizens, and rising socioeconomic inequality, radical opinions and distrust in the government are appealing like never before. With a congresswoman encouraging citizen distrust in government, Greene is fostering the very conditions needed for accelerated democratic backsliding in a political context riddled with existing inequalities and segregation.
While Greene’s current position in government is already a threat to democratic norms, Greene’s damage as an elected vice president would be astronomical. Greene’s potential as a candidate for vice president is considerable, as Donald Trump’s advisors have discussed his running with a Republican female in the 2024 election (Jacobs). As Klein mentions in his writing, Greene is a potential candidate to run with Trump in the next election, as she is an avid supporter of his populist methods.
The specific danger of Greene lies in her distrust to be mobilized through the power of populism. If she were to run with Trump, his populist campaign would naturally extend to hers as well. In How Democracies Die, by Levitsky and Ziblatt, populist, authoritarian leaders like Donald Trump, can shatter democratic institutions by capturing the referees, or the judicial system, and using the additional power to break the law, threaten citizens’ rights, and violate the constitution. Trump’s presidency awakened the nation to the power of a populist, autocratic leader, where the executive has an insurmountable amount of power and the lives of citizens are compromised. Democratic norms are thus further weakened, and democracy erodes to a fuller extent. In the context of Marjorie Taylor Greene, the combination of her distrust in government with Trump’s autocratic ways gives the pair permission to create a more authoritarian society that can eradicate any form of distrust. Greene and Trump in the next election would be a disastrous pair for the fate of democracy in America.
In essence, American citizens must be hyper aware of ways in which American democracy is currently being compromised. It has never been more important to be constantly on the lookout for signs of democratic erosion in motion, whether that be from the executive and his abuse of power, or in more subtle ways such as the words of a single congresswoman. Only in this way can a shift to a more militant, autocratic society be avoided.
BBC News. “Marjorie Taylor Greene: US House Votes to Strip Republican of Key Posts.” BBC News, 5 Feb. 2021, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-55940542.
Bump, Philip. “Greene Brings Her Embrace of False Claims Back to Levels Acceptable for Her Caucus.” Washington Post, 4 Feb. 2021, http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/02/04/taylor-greene-inadvertently-reveals-actual-problem-with-misinformation.
Jacobs, Jennifer. “Trump Weighs 2024 Run Without Mike Pence, Allies Say.” Bloomberg, 2021, http://www.bloomberg.com/tosv2.html?vid=&uuid=b68be700-8090-11eb-8be7-37d9daf93e53&url=L25ld3MvYXJ0aWNsZXMvMjAyMS0wMy0wMy90cnVtcC13ZWlnaHMtMjAyNC13aGl0ZS1ob3VzZS1ydW4td2l0aG91dC1taWtlLXBlbmNlLWFsbGllcy1zYXk=.
Mier, Analysis By Marshall Cohen Illustrations By Alberto. “Chronicling Trump’s 10 Most Egregious Abuses of Power – CNNPolitics.” CNN, 24 Jan. 2021, edition.cnn.com/2021/01/24/politics/trump-worst-abuses-of-power/index.html.
Foa, Roberto Stefan, and Yascha Mounk. “The Signs of Deconsolidation.” Journal of Democracy, vol. 28, no. 1, 2017, pp. 5–15. Crossref, doi:10.1353/jod.2017.0000.
Levitsky, Steven, and Daniel Ziblatt. How Democracies Die. Reprint, Crown, 2019.