I’m Begging Marjorie Taylor Greene To Keep Operating In Good Faith

I’m Begging Marjorie Taylor Greene To Keep Operating In Good Faith

It can most generously be called a strain of laziness that runs through the conservative movement, or most accurately described as an everlasting authoritarian impulse: The deep yearning for struggle to end, to be done with politics, to stop with the messiness of representative democracy.

Probably by now you had the misfortune of hearing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s grand plan for a “national divorce,” which quite hilariously passes for intellectual discourse on the American right. Taylor Greene, who in recent months has gained the favor of bad-faith provocateurs like Glenn Greenwald and who, along with her personal trainer, certainly knows something about divorce, said the country’s bifurcated politics and culture had created irreconcilable differences that demanded a splitting of so-called red and blue states.

Taylor Greene’s proposal included a wish list of conservative goals for “red” states in this national divorce, including no right to public education, no taxes, and freeing Republican-controlled states to poison the environment to their heart’s desire.

Her lunatic tweet thread sounded more like a Roseanne standup routine than serious public policy, including lame pass-aggressive attacks on trans folks and immigrants and everyone else for whom the right has visceral hatred. In Taylor Greene’s deranged national divorce scenario, so-called blue states would have “government controlled gender transition schools.” I hope whichever MTG intern came up with that zinger got a bigger lunch stipend.

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In her subsequent cable news tour in which she touted her ridiculous and traitorous “national divorce” policy pitch, Taylor Greene said the political and cultural purity of red states would be ensured by removing voting rights from anyone who moved from a Democratic-held state to a Republican-controlled state in her imaginary American hellscape. Make no mistake: This is a temper tantrum about Arizona and Georgia and, to a lesser extent, Texas, becoming far more purple in recent election cycles thanks to transplants from more politically liberal parts of the country (conservatives in states like North Carolina has snuffed this out with laser-guided gerrymandering meant to dilute the black and brown vote). Republicans in these formerly crimson red states have been forced to do some actual appealing to people’s interests as culturally liberal voters filter into their districts.

Can you imagine: A politician having to make compelling arguments about how they might improve a constituent’s material conditions? Personally I cannot.

Like any committed authoritarian, Taylor Greene would not tolerate dissent to one-party rule in a post-divorce United States – universal suffrage being anathema to fascist rule.

MTG’s desires for a hellish, Darwinian society are nothing new in right-wing circles. All the right has ever wanted was a government perfectly sized to defend the interests of the monied and propertied and nothing more. This vision has taken various forms over the past half century, but MTG’s political desires are essentially the same as William F. Buckley’s and Barry Goldwater’s. MTG, like her right-wing predecessors who were not proudly ignorant, has plenty of ideas, all of which are idiotic and rejected by all but the most broken-brain online reactionary.

Taylor Greene, unlike Goldwater or Buckley or any other leader of the far right’s intellectual sphere, had the temerity to say aloud that the Confederacy was right (which suggests, maybe, that Confederate leaders should have been dealt with more, uh, harshly than they were).

In outlining the end of the Union, Taylor Greene acted in good faith and accidentally revealed the Republican vision for the United States – a needed point of clarity after the party in 2020 did not draft a platform and instead lined up behind Big Daddy and whatever his addled brain wanted on a particular day or week (aka whatever was on Fox or his Twitter timeline that morning). And for as horrifying as Taylor-Greene’s “national divorce” plan might sound to decent folks, her good faith in this matter is bad for Republicans as they flail to appeal to political normies increasingly disgusted by her party.

The Revulsion of The Independent

If we know one thing about the feckless, principle-free independent voter, it’s that they love balance and unity in our national politics. Every election cycle, NPR finds some so-called independent voter – usually someone with right-wing politics who likes to legally consume marijuana – who says they voted for a Democratic presidential candidate and a Republican senator or house member, or a Republican presidential candidate and a Democratic member of Congress, just to make things nice and fair.

This, for the large-brained and aggressively ignorant independent voter, is the best way to balance the scales of power so neither party can enforce its agenda and the most vexing issues of our time can never be solved amid congressional gridlock. Our inability to address climate collapse and immigration and the despair of late capitalism is largely the fault of independent voters who fail – or refuse – to understand the concept of power and how it’s leveraged. In an age of ascendent fascism, independent voters should not be praised, but shamed.

You see I have no love for the independent voter. But I know Taylor Greene’s “national divorce” policy is not what they want. Splitting the United States into cultural and political factions is, in fact, the polar opposite of what the typical independent wants. It would offend their most basic sensibilities, however childish and uninformed.

Such a plan, if properly highlighted by the Democratic Party if or when MTG is tapped as the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2024, would turn off any independent voter who values nothing but fairness and balance. The ridiculous notion of bipartisan hand holding is what the independent craves more than anything, and Taylor Greene went to painstaking lengths to dismiss this vision of the US as impossible, or at least deeply undesirable to right-wing lawmakers and candidates who are sick and tired to having their political visions rejected by large swaths of the voting public. There is no misinterpreting what MTG is saying here.

Independent voters’ rejection of bare-knuckle far-right politics was behind Donald Trump’s failed reelection bid. The big-brained independents had seen a president who talked of denying emergency aid for blue states and encouraging mass violence against his political enemies and they (mostly) said no thanks, we're good. Joe Biden had a 53 to 42 percent advantage over Trump among independents who did not lean toward Democrats or Republicans. We’ll call these folks the Pure Independents, those whose minds are never decided on any issue. It was these voters, many of them living in major suburban regions of the country, who were repulsed by Trump’s hideous vision for America and sided with Biden’s uninspiring-but-less-revolting pitch to return to Obama-era normalcy. We’ll forget for a moment that at the foundation of his normalcy are the politics of a Band Aid covering a gaping wound.

There’s data showing Biden made major headway among younger independents who had either not voted in 2016 or had wasted their vote on a third-party candidate. Suffice it to say the Trumpist right – of which Taylor Greene is a key and knowing cog – has made no effort to appeal to culturally liberal suburban voters who don’t go into cardiac arrest when they see a gay couple kiss on TV but could be persuaded to support right-wing economic policy if MTG and her fellow Trumpists would make any effort to cozy up to them.

Taylor Greene’s “national divorce” concept is nothing short of poison for the Republican effort to persuade suburbanites to get aboard the fascist bandwagon.

There Are No Red or Blue States, You Idiot, You Moron

I was once chastised by my boss for calling states “red” or “blue” based on which party represented the state in Congress and the makeup of their state legislatures. I was covering health care policy – with a focus on abortion rights – and kept referring to states as red or blue during pitch meetings.

“There is no such thing as a red state,” my boss snapped one day as I outlined proposed abortion restrictions in Missouri. “There are no blue states either. We do not use that term here.”

She was right, of course. Labeling a state as liberal or conservative ignores massive numbers of people who vehemently disagree with the state’s leadership on matters large and small while failing to acknowledge the insidious problem of gerrymandering and other efforts to subvert representative democracy.

The entire red-blue state discourse is lazy shorthand for journalistic outfits that refuse to engage with what’s happening on the ground in the states, the so-called laboratories of democracy that have been seized and destroyed by radicalized conservatives starting with the 2010 midterm elections -- an undiscussed turning point in American history.

How can one call Missouri a red state when it has one of the nation’s most energized and vocal racial justice movements and a voting public that approves every single liberal ballot initiative? You can’t. How can one say Kansas – a state seemingly so wildly conservative that public education all but vanished under Governor Sam Brownback – is a red state when voters there overwhelmingly supported a right to abortion in 2022?

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In supposedly blue Maryland, my home state, we’re fresh off eight years of a Republican governorship. Last year, we had an insurrectionist gubernatorial candidate take home 33 percent of the vote. Maryland, as in many states considered solidly red, has a growing fascist movement threatening violence against those who attend drag brunches. We have wild-eyed abortion protesters harassing patients outside clinics the same way they do in Mississippi or Arkansas or Texas. One of the most recent incidents of mass anti-abortion violence happened in solidly blue Colorado.

The inimitable Jamelle Bouie of The New York Times swiftly destroyed Taylor Greene’s national divorce nonsense with a quick but revealing rehashing of how the nation’s founders fought over the political problem of state power and representation. To break down our political differences into states is foolish for myriad reasons, not least of which is because it would not solve the problems MTG is seeking to solve. Republicans could not have little authoritarian plots of land if they were somehow able to “divorce” themselves from more populous, racially diverse blue states, Bouie writes.

No matter how small you go, in other words, you run into the simple fact that there’s no such thing as a truly homogeneous political community. There will always be differences of belief and interest, and the only way to deal with them in a representative, republican government is through deliberation and majority rule.
What was true in the 18th and 19th centuries is true now. A “national divorce” is only possible if the states represent singular political communities. But they don’t. A conservative, deep “red” state like Oklahoma still has liberal, “blue” cities and suburbs with conflicting interests. If you tried to divide conservative rural areas from liberal urban ones, you’d quickly find that within those subdivisions lie profound political differences between both individual people and groups of people.
We are not actually 50 separate communities tied together by a single document. We are a single, national community of diverse and divergent interests in every corner of the union. The states aren’t hard borders of culture and politics, and there’s no way to divide the country so that all Americans live in their own camp, with their own side. Perhaps, if conservatives and Republicans win enough elections, we’ll have a vastly smaller and less expansive federal government than we do now. But that will not solve the problem of political conflict and majority rule; it will simply push the problem down to the next level of government.

Taylor Greene and her far-right cohorts should stick to arguing in bad faith if this is what their good faith looks like. The idea of splitting the union is appealing to no one in the US outside of the most meme-poisoned, basement-dwelling right-wing broken brains.

If your family has abandoned you because you can’t stop talking about Hunter Biden’s laptop and 5G wavelengths and the COVID vaccine as a genocidal tool, MTG’s plan sounds pretty damn good. If you talk to strangers about "vaccine shedding" and become infuriated by pro sports teams speaking out against racism, you want to hear more about this national divorce. Otherwise you find it funny or revolting. Maybe both.

Keep up the good faith, Marge.

Follow Denny Carter on Twitter at @CDCarter13.