Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Green’s Road from Alt-Right Conspiracy to Congress
Despite being removed from her congressional committee assignments by a 230-199 House vote on February 4, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) of Georgia’s 14th District has refused to be silenced by political rivals. Her polarizing beliefs defined Greene’s 2020 campaign trail, aligning herself closely with former President Donald Trump, who lauded her as a “future Republican star” upon winning her primary. She also earned notoriety for endorsing internet-based conspiracy theories, including 9/11 denial and QAnon conspiracies. She most infamously made several racist and anti-LGBTQ comments, which led to criticism from legislators on both sides of the political aisle. Although she has been stripped of her roles on the Education and Budget committees, Greene has shown no signs of backing down. She has dug her heels into the ground with several obstructionist motions to vote against the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, the anti-discrimination Equality Act, and the George Floyd police reform bill.
In a series of videos unearthed by Politico in 2020, Greene warned viewers about an “Islamic invasion into our government offices,” criticizing Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), the first Muslim woman elected to Congress, for taking her Congressional oath of office on the Quran and wearing a hijab on the floor House floor. She proceeded to scrutinize Omar, saying “anyone that is a Muslim, that believes in Sharia law, does not belong in our government.” She claimed socioeconomic disparities between minorities and whites were caused by Blacks and Hispanics choosing to join gangs and deal drugs rather than pursue an education. Furthermore, she argued against removing statues of Confederate generals because, if she “were a Black [person] today and I walked by one of those statues, I would be so proud because I’d say ‘look how far I’ve come in this country.’” It does not end there. To add to her record, Greene has perpetuated conspiracy theories that 9/11 was a hoax and pushed that Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings were staged as a plot by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to tighten gun control laws. She was once videotaped verbally harassing Stoneman Douglas shooting survivor David Hogg.
Greene has also been a highly vocal supporter of the QAnon group, a rapidly growing online movement based on several online forum posts by an anonymous user known only as Q. QAnon followers believe a secret cabal of Satanic pedophiles runs the government and mainstream media. They also think these people, under the leadership of figures including former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and investor George Soros, regularly cannibalizes children and perform blood sacrifices with impunity. Embracing Trump, Q alleges that President Trump will overcome their iron grip over the government and media, exposing thousands of elites and throwing them in prison.
Despite the lack of any evidentiary basis upon which Q bases his allegations, the QAnon movement has attracted an enormous following. Its lore has grown with a number of online personalities aside from Q claiming to have uncovered more evidence. Greene was far from the only candidate to run on a QAnon platform; according to a list compiled by Alex Kaplan of the liberal site Media Matters, more than eighty QAnon-supporting candidates ran for federal office in 2020. In August 2020, when asked about QAnon at a press conference, Trump remarked he doesn’t “know much about the movement, other than they like me very much, which I appreciate.” Although their allegations may seem outlandish, the QAnon aversion to mainstream media outlets and government officials, as well as a fragmented, decentralized, and often contradictory canon, makes disproving their allegations downright impossible, as any source traditionally considered ‘reliable’ can be explained away as an instrument of the elite.
Following the vote for her removal, Greene took the floor to apologize for her remarks. She framed herself as an ordinary, apolitical American who was inspired by Trump’s outspoken stance against mainstream media outlets and was sucked into a rabbit hole of misinformation, denounced QAnon, and cast her sympathy and support behind school shooting victims. Yet, she stood by some of her controversial rhetoric against illegal immigrants, referred to abortion as “[the murder] of over sixty-two million people in the womb,” and denied any Russian interference in the i2016 election.
Despite being criticized by political opponents after her election, Greene was elected by a constituency that was fully aware of her beliefs and inflammatory remarks. Georgia’s 14th district is one of the reddest in the country; during the 2020 election, Trump carried it by a considerable margin of forty-eight points. Greene heavily leaned into the 14th District’s fondness for Trump by relentlessly reminding her voters that she was the Trump candidate, even renting out a campaign bus emblazoned with Trump’s name and image. Greene was not the only candidate to follow the Trumpian strategy in order to achieve election, and she is likely far from the last.