Editor’s Note: Jill Filipovic is a journalist based in New York and author of the book “OK Boomer, Let’s Talk: How My Generation Got Left Behind.” Follow her on Twitter @JillFilipovic. The opinions expressed here are her own. View more opinion on CNN.
What should a political party do when one of their elected members to Congress is making comments that sound awfully traitorous? That’s the question the Republican Party should be grappling with right now in the aftermath of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia saying this weekend that, if she had organized the January 6, 2021, riots, the insurrectionists would have won.
“I gotta tell you something: If Steve Bannon and I had organized that, we would have won,” she reportedly told the New York Young Republican Club. “Not to mention, it would have been armed.”
It’s hard to overstate how offensive and scary this is. In a statement to CNN on Monday, Greene said she was being sarcastic and, as she has done previously, denied any involvement in the January 6 riot.
“My comments were making fun of Joe Biden and the Democrats, who have continuously made me a political target since January 6th,” she said.
Her statement is nonsensical to the point that one has to wonder whether Greene knows what the word “sarcastic” means. Her comments were not making fun of Biden or the Democrats; they were making a mockery of the country.
The January 6 insurrection was an attempt to violently overthrow the government and overturn the results of a free and fair American election. Close to 1,000 of the participants have since been indicted, and many have been convicted of serious crimes. Four people died that day, and five officers died in the days and weeks that followed, while more than 100 law enforcement officers were injured.
Members of Congress — Greene’s colleagues — wound up running for their lives, hiding from the mobbing criminals who broke into the Capitol and explicitly threatened the lives of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-Vice President Mike Pence.
It’s time for Greene to go.
Removing a member of Congress from office is not a decision that a party should take lightly. She was, after all, duly elected by her constituents. But a requirement of serving in elected office is defending the Constitution of the United States.
In a few weeks, Greene will even lay her hand on a Bible and pledge to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”
How can she truly swear that oath when she is cheering on domestic enemies?
This is not the first time the United States has been forced to grapple with enemies from within. Tellingly, some of the January 6 rioters flew not just the US flag but also the traitorous Confederate banner — the flag of earlier enemies of the nation, who were, thankfully, defeated. No right-thinking person should want another bloody war that splits this country apart. But unfortunately, too many people on the political right want just that.
At the same Young Republican gala where Greene spoke, the group’s president, Gavin Wax, reportedly told the audience, “We want to cross the Rubicon. We want total war. We must be prepared to do battle in every arena. In the media. In the courtroom. At the ballot box. And in the streets.”
He then added, “This is the only language the left understands. The language of pure and unadulterated power.”
This is truly terrifying stuff. It’s one thing to wage war at the ballot box, but quite another to encourage battle “in the streets.” This kind of rhetoric, coupled with Greene’s comments, is especially troubling considering that some members of the January 6 crowd were indeed armed and dangerous. As devastating as that day was, it could have been far, far worse.
That a Republican member of Congress suggests that she not only wanted that insurrection to be more violent, but she believes that the insurrectionists should have won — should have overturned an election by force — demonstrates just how dangerous and deranged some members of the GOP have become.
It’s up to the party now to get its act together. Republicans have long flirted with right-wing extremism, and former President Donald Trump opened up the floodgates, helping to reshape a portion of the GOP into a party of conspiracy theorists, racists, antisemites, gun nuts and election deniers.
Many members of the party, at best, held their noses and, at worst, embraced these deplorables because the election wins were coming in. But now they’re reaping what they sowed: a party that, up to the highest levels, is populated by people who put power over country —- and who are now straightforwardly saying that they wouldn’t just be happy to see American democracy burn, they’d be on the front lines.
This is not a matter of simple political disagreement, such as a debate over appropriate taxation rates or how best to structure our immigration laws. It’s not even a deep divide in values and morals, such as whether abortion should be legal or how to balance anti-discrimination laws with religious freedoms. This is the kind of fundamental question that transcends partisanship. It’s one of fidelity to the nation itself, and to the once-radical idea of America as a representative and pluralistic democracy.
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Greene’s comments are among the most anti-American ever uttered by an elected official in my lifetime. They are nothing less than someone happy to foment insurrection and undermine this country’s most basic democratic traditions in an effort to install the losing candidate just because she shares his ideology.
They are the words of a woman who will, on January 3, be lying when she places her hand on a Bible and swears that she is loyal to the Constitution.
If the Republican Party has any shred of dignity left, and any vanishing claim to patriotism and devotion to the United States, it needs to act and make Greene the pariah any enemy of the state should be.