David Byler, writing for the Washington Post, has nailed a term describing Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene: “queen of the GOP fringe.”
According to Byler, MTG’s power derives from her status as the fringe queen, the primary conduit between the far-right segment of the GOP and the mainstream of the party – and that MTG would be well advised to preserve her status as queen of the GOP fringe.
“So long as [MTG] remains queen of the GOP fringe, Republicans such as Speaker Kevin McCarthy will believe they need her,” Byler wrote. “In fact, they’ll fall over themselves to stay in her good graces.”
I happen to agree with Byler. MTG is certainly ascendant, benefiting from the House’s conversion from Democrat- to Republican-majority last January. Under Democratic leadership, MTG was still the fringe queen – but that wasn’t a great place to be in the minority – Democrats removed MTG from all House committees. The Georgia congresswoman was dismissed out of hand as a zealot and a kook, a promoter of far-flung conspiracy theories, a virulent antisemite. MTG was simply not taken seriously.
Now, however, under the Republicans, MTG’s station has improved considerably. She’s still the fringe queen, but that’s no longer a bad thing; now she’s able to act like something of a fringe whisperer for the buttoned-up McCarthy, who she wisely backed for the speakership. As a result, MTG “has plum committee assignments: Homeland Security and Oversight (read: The Hunter Biden investigation team). And she was given “rock star” treatment at this years’ Conservative Political Action Conference,” Byler wrote.
MTG’s newfound mainstream relevance is also evident in her fundraising totals; MTG is a dominant force in small-dollar donations, raising $10.7 million during the 2022 election cycle in donations under $200. With the exception of Jim Jordan, no one in the Freedom Caucus came close to MTG’s small-dollar haul.
For reference, Lauren Boebert, who people often associate with MTG for her zany, angry, conspiracy-laden persona, raised just $4.4 million in small-dollar donations. Scott Perry raised just $1.4 million. The point is, that small-dollar donors, who can serve as something of a weathervane for a party, something like a democratic gauge, are invested in MTG and her continued success.
Byler argues that MTG’s current relevance wasn’t her “destiny.”
“Before she took office, she wasn’t the clear choice of the ultra-MAGA donor,” Byler wrote. “Other conspiratorialist GOP upstarts such as Rep. Lauren Boebert (Colo.) and former North Carolina congressman Madison Cawthorn, out-raised [MTG].”
But MTG has been able to worm past her peers in terms of relevance and fundraising ability, with “better timing.” Specifically, MTG capitalized on the MAGA outrage/fallout from the 2020 election.
“At that time, the GOP base was angry. They denied that President Donald Trump had lost the election and that he had fueled the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. But Trump was no longer a candidate. His super fans couldn’t blow off steam by sending a quick check to his campaign.”
That’s where MTG stepped in; she harped on the idea that the 2020 election had been stolen and she repeatedly attacked the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency. Then, MTG’s colorful past, of rampant conspiracy promotion, came to light – and instead of dooming her, endeared her to the MAGA base.
At the moment, MTG is on good terms with both the establishment and the fringe, “but it’s a tough balancing act,” according to Byler. “If Greene becomes too friendly with McCarthy and his allies, her base could leave her for another devoted anti-establishment agitator…And if she becomes a liability on the national political stage, GOP leaders might (again) cast her into outer darkness.”
Whatever happens, the idea that someone like MTG is so close to American power centers, even for a moment, is concerning.
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Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.