Judge Marjorie Taylor Greene by the Company She Keeps

Published May 13, 2024

National Review Online

epresentative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R., Ga.) says she represents the American people against “the uniparty.” The fact that she voted with the socialist Squad in trying to topple Speaker Mike Johnson (R., La.) tells a much different — and much more troubling — story.

Greene’s effort went nowhere with Republicans, as only ten other GOP members joined her. She fared much better with Democrats, despite her condemnation of Johnson for relying on Democratic votes to save his position. Thirty-two members of Team Blue voted to depose Johnson, almost three times the number of Republicans who did likewise.

This bipartisanship is a feature, not a bug, of efforts by Greene and other malcontents to be the tail that wags the GOP dog. Former House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) lost only eight Republicans when he was toppled. That tiny band succeeded because all 208 Democrats voting joined them. Republicans trying to run the House from their bunkers win only when they get more Democratic backing than Johnson has ever had in floor votes.

The fact that Greene’s motion was backed by the most radical Democrats in the House should be a huge signal to all conservatives. The chamber’s democratic socialists almost all lined up to topple Johnson. Fire-alarm aficionado Jamaal Bowman (D., N.Y.) was on Team Greene, as was Miss Green New Deal herself, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.). Pro-Hamas representative Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) voted with Greene, along with Cori Bush (D., Mo.), Summer Lee (D., Pa.), and Maxine Waters (D., Calif.).

It’s also telling that Greene and her nihilistic GOP allies persisted in their motion even after Donald Trump came out against them. They often claim they are Trump’s truest allies in the House, but how can they say that with a straight face now?

You can tell a lot about someone by the company they keep, the old saying goes. That’s especially true for Greene. She clearly would rather get help from the Squad she professes to loathe than agree with Trump, a man she professes to love.

Conservatives should sit up and take note. There’s no “uniparty” that runs Washington. Instead, there are people who want to fight for incremental gains, bringing their constituents along with them, and those who are revolutionary firebrands who simply want to tear things down and don’t have a plan for how to build them back up.

Team Greene is opposed to the Squad on what and how to build back better. But when it comes to fomenting revolution against the status quo, they are peas in a pod.

This simple fact forces conservatives to make a choice: Are they conservatives or are they revolutionaries? If they’re conservatives who actually believe in something, they should stop trying to rely on socialists for support. If they’re revolutionaries, they should stop trying to pretend they’re Republicans.

Arizona’s July 30 primary could be the first place where conservatives make that choice. First-term representative Eli Crane is one of only two Republicans who voted to depose both McCarthy and Johnson. (Fellow Arizonan Andy Biggs is the other.) Crane faces a primary challenge from Jack Smith, a former supervisor from the district’s largest county. Smith would be committing campaign malpractice if he didn’t tie Crane tightly to AOC and her friends.

Smith may not even have to do it himself. McCarthy is said to be behind Smith and challenges to two other Republicans who voted to defenestrate him. The former speaker is a legendary fundraiser, and super PACs tied to him have already spent or reserved hundreds of thousands of dollars in contested GOP House races. McCarthy, a savvy political strategist, would be uncharacteristically remiss if he didn’t highlight the Crane–AOC strategic alliance in television ads.

Greene said her motion would expose who backs the status quo and who wants dramatic change. Now voters know: Greene and the Squad are locked arm in arm. Each cannot succeed without the other. That, not Johnson’s supposed squishiness, is what conservatives should focus on.

Arizona conservative icon Barry Goldwater became a national sensation when he told conservatives angry at Richard Nixon’s nomination in 1960 to “grow up” and work for party unity. We’ll soon know whether today’s Arizona conservatives — and, by extension, conservatives nationwide — want to follow Goldwater’s sage advice or if they would rather continue to throw pointless tantrums.

Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, studies and provides commentary on American politics. His work focuses on how America’s political order is being upended by populist challenges, from the left and the right. He also studies populism’s impact in other democracies in the developed world.

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