Marjorie Taylor Greene is a first-term member of Congress who has been removed from committees. Aside from voting – and occasionally engaging in pointless time-wasting measures – she doesn’t have many official duties at all. Quite simply: It’s impossible for her to have less power within the halls of Congress.
And yet, Greene, a Republican who represents Georgia’s 14th district, raised an eye-popping $3.2 million in the first three months of 2021 from what she said was more than 100,000 donors nationwide.
“I am humbled, overjoyed, and so excited to announce what happened over the past few months as I have been the most attacked freshman member of Congress in history,” Greene said about her fundraising. “I stood my ground and never wavered in my belief in America First policies and putting People Over Politicians! And I will NEVER back down! As a matter of fact, I’m just getting started.”
It’s not at all clear what she is “just getting started” on, because as I mentioned above, Greene serves on no congressional committees – where the work gets done (when it gets done) in the House.
Regardless. What the mismatch between Greene’s actual ability to represent her constituents’ interests (minimal) and the amount of support (read: money) she was able to raise in just the first three months of her time in office (massive) make clear is that the base of the Republican Party – to whom she is a hero – has zero interest in politicians doing their jobs.
In the age of Donald Trump – and you better believe Republicans are still very much influenced by the former President’s 2016 campaign, his time in the White House and his continued popularity among the Party base – performative politics are the name of the game. It’s not about what you actually accomplish. It’s about how many times you get on Fox News, how much money you raise and how many Democrats (and media members) you troll.
Those are the new benchmarks for success among the Trump-inspired crop of Republicans who have arrived in Congress in recent years – from Greene to Madison Cawthorn (North Carolina) to Matt Gaetz (Florida).
“Republican voters – a group distinct from Conservatism Inc. – no longer have any concrete outcomes that they want from government.
“What they have, instead, is a lifestyle brand.
“And if you want to move up the ladder within a brand network, you don’t do it by governing or making policy.
“You do it by getting attention.”
Yes. To all of that.
Take one recent example from Greene.
On April 1, she tweeted a 26-second video of herself lifting weight and doing some wacky-sort-of-pull-ups that are, apparently, referred to in the Crossfit world as “kipping.” “This is my Covid protection,” she tweeted along with a “muscle” emoji. “#MakeAmericaHealthyAgain. It’s time to #FireFauci”
This, of course, is idiotic. While working out is generally regarded as an important part of a healthy lifestyle, there’s zero evidence that Crossfit or any other workout program will keep you safe from Covid-19. What will? Wearing a mask. Washing your hands. Maintaining social distance. Getting the vaccine when you are eligible to do so.
But none of that mattered (or matters) to Greene. She didn’t really think Anthony Fauci, the director the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, was going to get fired because of her video. Nor that epidemiologists and infectious disease experts might change their views on the best ways to prevent Covid-19 transmission after watching her lift weights and do pull-ups.
She wanted attention. And that’s exactly what she got. As of Thursday, the video had 12.6 million views.
The video promoted Greene’s “brand” as an unapologetic Trump conservative who not only isn’t afraid to stand up to the establishment but takes great delight in trolling them. It has – and will – undoubtedly lead to more TV hits and more small-dollar donations.
That’s winning to Greene. She doesn’t care about being in party leadership. Or passing legislation. Or even serving on committees. She cares about building her brand via social media trolling and TV appearances on home-field networks. That’s her path to influence and power within the GOP.
Sadly, given the dismal current state of the Republican Party, it’ll probably work.