Even for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., the fundraising email I received last week was mind-boggling.
She started off by referring to “Joe Biden’s Communist Green New Deal,” switched to an attack on Reps. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., and the “January 6 Witch Hunt Committee,” and then warned that Never Trumpers are colluding “with Communist Democrats to rig the 2022 and 2024 elections.”
“Joe Biden’s hands are drenched with blood after the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan,” she continued.
Greene’s email went on to assert that Biden’s “crippling” of “American energy production” was part of his “scheme to impose socialism on America.”
“The swamp pulled out all the stops to defeat me,” her email continued, claiming that “Hollywood liberals, Never Trumpers, and insider lobbyists poured $5,000,000,000 into the campaign account of my communist Democrat opponent.” Yes, $5 billion — a claim that is so ridiculous that it suggests that the person who wrote the email didn’t know what the number “5” followed by nine zeros is.
“I know with your help, we can stop communism and save America,” Greene continued near the end of her email.
We all know that fundraising emails tend to push the envelope, as campaigns try to get supporters to write more and bigger checks. Greene, in particular, always relishes a fight, calling adversaries names and generally warning that the sky will fall if her side loses.
But isn’t there a point where a campaign or a member of Congress starts to sound ignorant and radical?
Yes, there are a handful of very progressive Democrats now in Congress who seem fine with embracing the “democratic socialist” label. The list includes New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, Missouri’s Cori Bush and New York’s Jamaal Bowman.
But both parties have had a handful of members with relatively extreme views over the years.
Democratic Reps. Ron Dellums of California and John Conyers of Michigan were also democratic socialists, while Democratic Rep. Larry McDonald of Georgia and one Republican, California’s John Schmitz, were members of the ultra-right-wing John Birch Society. Texas Republican Ron Paul was well out of the mainstream, as well.
Greene’s email reminded me of former Florida GOP Rep. Allen West’s assertion 10 years ago that about 80 Democrats in Congress were communists.
As PolitiFact noted in 2012, when West was criticized, he responded:
“I stand by the point of my comments. The press wants to write gotcha stories and talk semantics, but just look at the words and actions of the Progressive Caucus. You can call them socialist, Marxist, communist or whatever you want, but the point is, they oppose free markets and individual economic freedom, they want to redistribute wealth, and they want to see the nation fundamentally transformed. Their policies are destructive and I will stand up to them regardless of the critics. Members of this Caucus lavished praise on Fidel Castro following a 2009 visit, just to name one example. The Communist Party USA claims the Progressive Caucus as its ‘ally.’”
West eventually moved to Texas and became chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. He quit that position to run for governor this year — finishing second (!) in the GOP primary to incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. West drew 12.3 percent of the vote.
Interestingly, there now seem to be more extremist Republicans in Congress than extremist Democrats.
Looking for a place to start counting Republican “extremists”? Greene and seven other Republicans — including Florida’s Matt Gaetz, Arizona’s Andy Biggs, Colorado’s Lauren Boebert, North Carolina’s Dan Bishop and Chip Roy of Texas — voted against stripping Russia of its “most favored nation” status. Supporting Vladimir Putin during the Russian invasion of Ukraine is not exactly a mainstream position.
Add Reps. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Jody Hice of Georgia to that group, and you have a baker’s dozen of extremist Republicans, just as a starting point. (This list is not meant to be exhaustive.)
You would think that voters on both sides of the aisle would tire of the attacks and name-calling, whether coming from members of Congress or their allies in the media. But you would be wrong.
Many GOP candidates and voters enjoy name-calling and confrontation, even if it means attacking other Republicans. In the recent Ohio Republican Senate debate, hopefuls Josh Mandel and Mike Gibbons did their share of Donald Trump-like name-calling, finger-pointing and chest-thumping.
I suppose it’s too much to ask of Republican officeholders and voters to know what communism is or to follow the rules of decorum. GOP voters aren’t looking for intelligence or knowledge these days. They don’t value those qualities. They just want to win.