If Donald Trump runs again and wins in 2024, he’s reportedly already decided that the QAnon congresswoman who kicks teen activists and thinks that wildfires are started by secret space lasers will be part of his administration.
While it’s unclear whether he sees Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) as a good fit for a Cabinet position, department appointment or some type of White House role, Trump has reportedly told at least two people close to him that Greene would be “great” and he wants her “very close in a second term,” according to a new report from Rolling Stone. One of the sources told Rolling Stone that Trump specifically floated giving Greene a role in the Justice Department.
That report on Trump’s plans to reward the faithful is hardly shocking. Greene has been doing Trump’s dirty work for the last several years, not just as a reliable far-right bigot who keeps his grievances alive, but an active participant in his election stealing scheme. Greene voted to decertify the 2020 election results and has since teamed up with fellow annoying lawmaker Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to tour the country further spreading the big lie and cementing election overturning as a party platform.
It’s similar to the spoils system approach Trump took when handing out jobs during his first term, rewarding those most loyal to him with cush White House or administration gigs — a staple of how Trump has conducted business and demanded fealty for decades. But it’s also reflective of a key difference between the parties, outlined in a column by Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg today. While we see one demagogue — Greene — emerge as a rising star in the Republican Party, another demagogue — Tulsi Gabbard — has very publicly quit the Democrats.
Gabbard’s party switch last week on its face appears to be nothing more than an attention seeking moment from a politician who found her relevance waning, Bernstein writes. But it’s also illustrative of that broader party theme:
Gabbard has been selling unorthodox views of various types for some time. She never quite lived down a 2017 meeting with brutal Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. While she was able to hold on to her House seat, it turned out there simply wasn’t much of a market in the Democratic Party for indulging authoritarians.
This isn’t because rank-and-file Democrats automatically reject extremism. Instead, it’s because influential Democrats enforce something like a minimal level of responsible behavior. Those who can’t abide by it find themselves ostracized by both the party and media organizations such as MSNBC.
As New York Magazine writer Jonathan Chait points out in a similarly themed piece published today, the way in which the Democratic Party enforces discipline in the wake of controversial remarks — he highlights, as an example, remarks by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in 2019 — is a good case study in how differently the two parties handle members who go rogue. While Republican leadership cowers before those who embrace conspiracy theories to fuel their careers, Democrats have ways of handling those in their ranks who take comparatively minor forays off message. Chait writes:
Conservatives like to bring up Omar, especially when a conservative says something antisemitic, which occurs with increasing frequency. Even if you accept the parallel between Omar’s most offensive statements and the kinds of wild antisemitic conspiracy theories that circulate in right-wing circles — I find the equivalence strained — the comparison breaks down completely when you consider how the two parties have responded to these offenses.
As Chait notes in his piece, there’s talk of rewarding Greene’s rise to hateful stardom beyond a possible 2024 Trump administration gig. If Republicans succeed in taking back the House, Greene’s GOP colleagues have already expressed plans to restore and expand her committee assignments.
While demagogues are a fixture of American politics, and existed in the Republican Party long before the rise of Trump (think Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, for starters), the former president’s success in taking over the ideology of the party has the bigotry-rewards balance dramatically off kilter. Per Chait:
One effect of the Trump era has been to abandon any pretense of this. The gates are a smoldering ruin, and the kooks have overrun every corner of the party. If anything, the non-kooks are being weeded out — Liz Cheney is being shown the door even as Marjorie Taylor Greene is being courted.
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The U.S. Thinks ‘It Can’t Happen Here.’ It Already Has. — Jamelle Bouie