EXPLAINER

2021's biggest troll: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene

Marjorie Taylor Greene took the spotlight left when Donald Trump got booted from social media

By Jon Skolnik

Published December 18, 2021 4:14AM (EST)

Marjorie Taylor Greene (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Marjorie Taylor Greene (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

It would be hard to argue that 2021 was a productive year in politics. But for Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene – the CrossFit coach turned U.S. congresswoman representing Georgia's 14th congressional district – the year has been just that. 

No, she hasn't sponsored legislation that's passed any chamber of Congress. And no, she hasn't been able to retain any of her House committee assignments. But somehow, with no political experience, Greene has proven herself highly proficient in activating the GOP's most fringe elements, stirring up saucy interpersonal drama on Capitol Hill, promoting grandiose right-wing conspiracy theories online, and fanning the flames of the conservative culture war.

On her very first day in Congress, the Georgia lawmaker famously unveiled her state of right-wing perma-rage by donning "Trump Won" face mask amid the former president's baseless claims of fraud in the 2020 election. At the time many saw the display as outlandish. But in fact, it was in complete harmony with her past affinity for unreality. 

In the leadup to her election, Politico revealed that Greene had once ardently subscribed to QAnon, the notion that a cabal of Satan-worshipping Democratic elites are running a global child sex trafficking operation. The Georgia freshman also reportedly endorsed the idea that the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida was a false-flag affair orchestrated by the gun control lobby. Perhaps most famously, Greene once suggested that the deadliest California wildfire was an arson carried out by Rothschild-owned space lasers.

Five years ago, Greene's checkered past – rife with conspiracies fueled by racism, antisemitism, and Islamophobia – might have precluded a career in federal policymaking. But if anything, her past improprieties were just tasters for the chaotic entree to come.

Following the Capitol riot, fueled in no small part by her claims of election fraud, the Georgia lawmaker repeatedly downplayed the insurrection that left five dead and 140 police officers injured, claiming that it may have been infiltrated by antifa agitators. Just before Trump's impeachment trial, in which the former president faced charges of inciting the riot, the Georgia lawmaker went so far as to attribute the riot – led by Trump supporters – to Democrats, arguing that the party "must be held accountable for the political violence inspired by their rhetoric."

RELATED: Video shows Marjorie Taylor Greene encouraging fans to support Jan. 6 objection

Greene kept this momentum going in January. On the second day of President Biden's term, the Republican filed her first resolution: articles of impeachment against the president, whose "family's pockets" were lined with "cash from corrupt foreign energy companies." Days later, and just three weeks into Greene's own term, multiple members of Congress had already drafted resolutions to censure and expel her from the body, specifically citing her past support for executing members of Congress. In a testament to the GOP's degeneracy, both resolutions failed. 

By February, Greene had already been ousted from both her assignments on the Committee on the Budget and the Committee on Education and Labor. But no matter, because by then, it was already abundantly clear that policymaking was never quite her aim. 

Throughout the Spring and Summer, Greene, likely sensing that insurrection drama was growing stale, turned most of her attention from the election to the pandemic. That is, after months of backing a failed fascist election coup, she was becoming increasingly worried about vaccine- and mask-related "tyranny." 

In March, just after the nation hit a somber record of 500,000 coronavirus deaths and New York began implementing "vaccine passports," Greene called the policy "Biden's Mark of the Beast." And in May, she repeatedly upped the ante by comparing COVID-19 health precautions to policies set in place during Nazi Germany. 

Speaking of the House mask mandate, Greene, no Jewish history buff, recalled a "time in history where people were told to wear a gold star, and they were definitely treated like second class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany."

"I think any rational Jewish person didn't like what happened in Nazi Germany, and any rational Jewish person doesn't like what's happening with overbearing mask mandates and overbearing vaccine policies," she added days later, doubling down on her remarks.   

RELATED: Marjorie Taylor Greene's latest Nazi analogy: Vaccine to be distributed by "medical brown shirts"

Greene would of course be raked through the mud over those comments by both Republicans and Democrats, leading to a rare apology after a planned visit to the D.C. Holocaust Museum. But just three weeks later, the right-wing rabble-rouser was back on the saddle of sensationalism, comparing Biden's offhandedly-floated idea of door-to-door vaccinations to "medical brownshirts." (Brownshirts were the often-violent paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party.)


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Much of Greenes' ire over COVID was directed at the nation's leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. In June, months after filing the "Fire Fauci Act" – which needs no further explanation – Greene penned an angry missive to Biden, asking him to formally probe the doctor over baseless fears that the COVID-19 virus was a "manufactured" bioweapon unleashed by China. Greene raised the stakes the next month, warning that the virus was in fact Fauci's "experiment" because he backed "gain of function research" at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

"That is his baby," she said of COVID-19 at the time. "That is his experiment, and he's getting to watch it in the real world, like on a live television show where he has a front row seat. He gets to watch what happens." 

On COVID-19, Greene's rhetoric has unfortunately been quite consistent with her personal conduct in the halls of Congress. To this day, the Georgia conservative has yet to receive a vaccine, even though she is routinely exposed to her staff and other lawmakers. Greene also repeatedly flouts the House mask mandate, which has earned her over $63,000 worth of fines. There is even reason to believe that the Republican may have infected several of her colleagues during the January 6 lockdown by refusing to wear a mask.

RELATED: MTG losing close to one-third of her Congressional salary to mask fines, spokesperson says

Though COVID-19 has been the source of much of her invective, Greene has not been shy about other kitchen table issues like race, sex, gender, abortion, and religion. 

Back in February, while attempting to sink the Equality Act, a landmark LGBTQ+ rights bill, she declared on the House floor that the measure would "violate everything we hold dear in God's creation." Later that day, Greene hung a transphobic sign just outside of the office of Rep. Marie Newman, D-Ill, whose daughter is transgender. The sign, opposite Newman's pride flag, read: "There are two genders: Male and Female. Trust the Science."

RELATED: "Unimaginably cruel": Greene hangs anti-trans sign outside office of Rep. with transgender daughter

In June, shortly after Ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering 46-year-old Black man George Floyd, Greene panned the verdict over alleged jury intimidation, tarring Black Lives Matter as a "terrorist organization" that uses "the same tactics that the Ku Klux Klan used to use."

"There was no way that we could see anything but a guilty verdict. This is mob rule," she said at the time. "And I'm not even talking about the verdict. I'm just talking about the fact that BLM has become the most powerful domestic terrorist organization within inside the United States."

This year, all of Greene's antics paid off – literally. The conservative firebrand, who was a complete unknown a year ago, raised a whopping $3.2 million in the first three months of her fundraising haul – more than any House Republican in that same period. And politically, she's a near-shoo-in, with 75% of her district having voted for Trump in the last election. 

Greene has said that she is just "just getting started." It's not exactly clear what she means by this, since she hasn't actually achieved anything legislatively. But as CNN's Chris Cillizza puts, "she doesn't care about being in party leadership. Or passing legislation. Or even serving on committees. She cares about building her brand via social media trolling and TV appearances on home-field networks. That's her path to influence and power within the GOP."


Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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