You don’t say.
Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) are often derided as fringe figures, based on their dabblings in QAnon conspiracy-theorizing and Greene’s previous trutherism about everything from Sept. 11 to mass shootings.
But it may prove more accurate to regard them as a vanguard of sorts, as leading indicators of the future direction of a certain kind of right-wing politics that will continue gaining adherents and intensity.
That’s the message that emerges from this important new Post piece on the intra-GOP war that Boebert and Greene have touched off. The Terrible Two have lobbed days of bigoted attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), prompting Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) to issue a lonely denunciation of them. A flame war ensued, and GOP leaders are struggling to broker peace.
The key point here, as the Post piece notes, is that Republican leaders have called on both sides to stand down, but they “have yet to publicly denounce” Boebert’s and Greene’s “Islamophobic language.”
“Most rank-and-file Republicans have avoided criticizing Boebert and Greene," the piece reports. The problem here is that Boebert and Greene are imperiling GOP chances of taking the House, not their anti-Muslim slurs.
Notably, there isn’t any serious doubt about the bigotry behind these attacks. Boebert was caught on video recounting that she encountered Omar in an elevator and “joked” that Omar "doesn’t have a backpack. We should be fine.” Boebert called Omar a member of the “jihad squad.”
Then an extended war erupted between Mace, who denounced such “racist tropes,” and Greene, who sided with Boebert, ripped Omar as a “bloodthirsty” terrorist sympathizer and blasted Mace as “trash.”
But what’s more interesting is the defense of this bigotry evolving in some dark corners of the right. It was neatly expressed in Greene’s appearance this week on Stephen K. Bannon’s podcast, in which she expressly endorsed Boebert’s anti-Muslim slurs and ripped Mace for criticizing them.
“We are not the fringe,” Greene said, by way of rebutting Mace. “We are the base of the party.”
As that Post piece reports, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) is now echoing this point, suggesting that Greene and Boebert are merely voicing what their constituents believe.
What if this is why GOP leaders are taking a stand-off approach?
Indeed, it’s hard to see all this as “fringe” in another way, if you look at the larger bundle of political tendencies on display here. For a window into this, listen to that podcast discussion, which devolved into an extraordinarily paranoid, angry and hateful affair.
In it, Greene and Bannon tell a story: Everything the right does is justified as a rearguard response to a totalitarian left that comprises everyone from the likes of Omar all the way to mainstream media organizations and the most centrist of Democrats.
This leftist enemy, seethes Greene, wants “all of us gone.” In this telling, the bigotry directed at Omar is justified not just because Omar actually is personally a member of the terrorist enemy within, but also because she belongs to this more overarching monolithic leftist enemy that ceaselessly victimizes, persecutes and oppresses virtuous right-wingers in every conceivable way.
How “fringe” is this, as a worldview?
You see, the totalizing nature of the leftist enemy justifies extreme measures like election subversion and nullification: The overlap with the Greene-Bannon worldview is glaringly unmistakable.
Also this week, Sam Adler-Bell reported extensively on the new post-liberal right’s young intellectuals. Amid considerable variation, what unifies them, he found, is a “pervasive sense that the war for the soul of America has already been lost." That diagnosis is based on extraordinarily tortured readings of our current national moment, but it ultimately means any “measures” of “rebellion” are “justified to redeem it.”
I don’t know how many GOP voters Greene and Boebert speak for. The fact that GOP leaders won’t condemn their anti-Muslim bigotry suggests the answer is probably a lot.
But the broader overlap between all these actors is the key here. This doesn’t mean they all agree with the most lurid Greene and Boebert ravings. Rather, it means there’s a discernible through line uniting many of them: a comprehensive unshackling of themselves from any obligation to empirical reality in depicting the leftist enemy, to lay the foundations to justify pretty much anything in response.
Can anyone say with confidence that this bundle of pathologies is shriveling away, rather than metastasizing?