There is a battle going on for the heart of the Republican Party. There are the moderates who embraced Trump while he was in office but are hoping for a retreat from his rabid populism, post-presidency.
Then there are the radicals taking over the party at the state level who have doubled down on their support for of Trump — who many claim won the 2020 election — and embrace of far-right conspiracy theories like QAnon and Covid denial.
Tim Miller, former political director of Republican Voters Against Trump, said: "The evidence is overwhelming that local parties across the country, in blue states and red states, are radicalized and support extremely far outside the mainstream positions like, for example, ending our democratic experiment to install Donald Trump as president over the will of the people."
"They believe in insane Covid denialism and QAnon and all these other conspiracies," Miller continued. "It's endemic, not just a couple of state parties. It's the vast majority of state parties throughout the country."
via Wikimedia Commons
Now, with the election of Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the far-right extremists have entered Congress.
Before being elected to the House, Green routinely posted about her support for QAnon on Facebook. The roundly debunked theory casts former President Trump as a crusader against Satan-worshipping, cannibalistic, Democratic pedophiles.
She has also liked comments on her Facebook page that called for the assassination of Democratic House Majority leader Nancy Pelosi and FBI agents. She believes the law-enforcement agency is part of a "deep state" conspiracy against Trump.
A commenter once asked Greene, when "do we get to hang" Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, to which she responded, "Stage is being set. Players are being put in place. We must be patient. This must be done perfectly or liberal judges would let them off."
We've updated our guide to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's (R-GA) conspiracy theories and toxic rhetoric. There are m… https://t.co/6oZdiJYECY— Eric Hananoki (@Eric Hananoki)1612283268.0
Although Greene has only been in Congress for a few weeks, there are already calls for her ouster. Survivors of the Parkland shooting called for her to resign last week after it was discovered she agreed with commenters who called the tragedy a "false flag" event. She also referred to survivor and activist David Hogg, as "#littleHitler" and spread the conspiracy that he was a "bought and paid little pawn" and actor.
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell made a rare condemnation of someone in his party on Monday by speaking out against Greene. He released a statement calling the embrace of conspiracy theories and "loony lies" a "cancer for the Republican Party."
"Loony lies and conspiracy theories are cancer for the Republican Party and our country," McConnell said referring to Greene. "Somebody who's suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.'s airplane is not living in reality. This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party."
Greene fired back: "The real cancer for the Republican Party is weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully," she said. "This is why we are losing our country."
The real cancer for the Republican Party is weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully. This is why we are losing our country.— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸)1612226688.0
Last week, Pelosi pressed House Republicans to take action.
"Assigning her to the education committee, when she has mocked the killing of little children" in Newtown, "what could they be thinking, or is thinking too generous a word for what they might be doing?" Pelosi said of Republican leaders. "It's absolutely appalling."
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is set to meet with Greene this week to discuss her views and may dole out some punishment. She could be stripped of her committee assignments.
If Democrats remove me from my committees, I can assure them that the precedent they are setting will be used exten… https://t.co/mLltNXx18E— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸)1612218998.0
McConnell's rebuke is seen as an attempt to fend off his party's increasing embrace of far-right extremism before it comes to his doorstep. The rebuke came alongside his public call for support of Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming. On Wednesday, GOP Congressional leaders will meet to decide whether to oust Cheney from the third-ranking spot in House GOP leadership.
Cheney has come under fire from her party as well as former President Trump for voicing her support for his second impeachment.
In a separate statement, McConnell described Cheney as "a leader with deep convictions and the courage to act on them."
"She is an important leader in our party and in our nation," McConnell said in the statement. "I am grateful for her service and look forward to continuing to work with her on the crucial issues facing our nation."
McConnell's embrace of traditional Republican figures and denouncement of the far-right appears to be a signal of the direction he hopes his party will take in the aftermath of the Trump presidency.
But are his efforts a last-ditch attempt to push back against the barbarians at the gate of the Republican Party or a sign that things may be returning to normal?
A recent poll in Newsweek "found 41 percent of Republicans saying that the QAnon theories are good for the country, with 32 percent saying they are somewhat good and 9 percent saying very good."
So given the tide of public opinion, Greene may be the first of many QAnon supporters McConnell will have to fend off.
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