• on February 5, 2021

The GOP’s Longtime Love Affair with Conspiracy Theories

Freshman Congresswoman from Georgia, Marjorie Taylor Greene, has been getting a lot of attention because of her extreme conspiratorial beliefs and radical, offensive statements. But she isn’t the first in the Republican party nor is she the only. 

Long ago, the Republican party built a home for conspiracies by tolerating the once “fringe” members of their caucus, such as Gohmert, Biggs, Nunes, Gaetz, and Gosar. But those fringes are now among the most powerful in the caucus, and their ranks are only growing.

Conspiracy theorists are not new to American politics. In the 1950s and 60s, Joseph McCarthy and the John Birch Society led the Red Scare. Recently conspiracy theories have exploded into the mainstream and have found refuge in the Republican party. Former president Trump pushed conspiracies from Trump Tower to the Oval Office and used Twitter as his favorite weapon in his 24/7 disinformation campaign. 

With Trump out of office and banished from Twitter, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has proven she is all too eager to fill that void. In previous statements, Greene has espoused QAnon conspiracies, endorsed the execution of Democrats, and spread other disinformation. 

Often described as a creature of QAnon, Greene hasn’t met a conspiracy theory she won’t spread. For the MAGA wing of the Republican party, Greene is the answer to keeping the extreme Trump supporters placated and part of the party. For others, Greene is a danger to the GOP and the country. 

In recent weeks, widespread outrage has erupted over Greene’s comments after the January 6th domestic terror attack on the U.S. Capitol, “encouraging political violence.” Faced with another opportunity to take action against Greene, House Minority Leader Rep. McCarthy shirked responsibility and refused to discipline the freshman Congresswoman. 

House Democrats, angered by the GOP’s lack of backbone, brought forth a resolution to strip Greene of her committee assignments. On February 4th, the House of Representatives voted 230 to 199 removing Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene from the Education and Budget Committees. 

By banishing Greene from her committees that are critical to advancing legislation and conducting oversight, she has lost some of her influence in Congress. Historically, party leaders are in charge of their side’s committee assignments, and have largely policed their own caucus, removing members who cross the lines of decency or accountability. But this is the first time the majority has moved to strip committee assignments of a member from the opposing party. 

Out of the 230 votes in favor to relieve Greene of her committee assignments, only 11 of those ‘yes’ votes were Republicans. It is a sting for our nation that only 11 Republicans crossed party lines to stand up for truth and civility. The remaining 199 Republicans are content to allow conspiracy theorists who propagate hate serve in their party.

The refusal to hold Greene accountable for her peddling of conspiracy theories, endorsement of political violence, and bigoted remarks underscores a political step-change in the Republican party. 

The party of honest Abe has become the party of Trump and his acolytes like Marjorie Taylor Greene. Which is why, when faced with a chance to reject disinformation, a majority of the GOP embraced or excused the QAnon conspiracist instead.  

The Republican Party showed America it has no intention of standing up for its founding ideals. If the GOP wants to have a chance at governing in the future, they have to get their house in order, and stop trading their principles for temporary power. That starts with finding the courage to reject those who peddle alternate reality based conspiracy theories. American democracy is sustainable only when its citizens operate in a shared reality. 

Conspiracy theorists have no place in the Oval Office or roaming the halls of Congress. The 230 members of Congress who voted to strip Greene of her committee assignments recognize this fact. Americans’ next mission is to hold accountable the 199 Republicans who propped Greene up and looked the other way when their own ranks spread disinformation.

Greene is the first QAnon supporter elected to Congress, but as long as the GOP allows her to serve under their party banner, she will not be the last, nor will she be the worst. 

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