How the hell did 3 sociopaths-- 2 QAnon nuts from Georgia and Colorado and a Nazi with QAnon sympathies from North Carolina-- get into Congress? Well, the Georgia freak was a lock. Her largely rural, angry, confused northwest Georgia district's residents are just like her. The residents of Paulding, Floyd, Whitfield, Catoosa, Walker, Gordon, Polk, Murray, Haralson, Chatooga, Dade and Pickens counties are just like Marjorie Taylor Greene and she is just like them. Arguably the least qualified and least sane member of Congress in the last hundred years, 229,827 of these ignorant jackasses (74.6%) voted for her last November. And she wasn't hiding who she was; it's WHY they voted for her. It's also why they don't wear masks and have among the worst per capita numbers of COVID-19 of anyplace earth.
This sadly backward region where Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia converge is the bleeding asshole of America. After the Civil War, this is exactly where everyone should have lost their right to vote until they could pass a civics test. They'd still be working on that today-- and Congress wouldn't be currently burdened by Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14-- R+27), Mike Rogers (AL-03-- R+16), Robert Aderholt (AL-04-- R+30), Mo Brooks (AL-05-- R+18), Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03-- R+18) and Scott DesJarlais (TN-04-- R+20). My heart soars when anyone from this area talks about secession. I'd think we would have learned our lesson and just let them go this time-- with a strict no visa policy.
As for Lauren Boebert and Mad Cawthorn, it was less of a lock and neither won so overwhelmingly. But both districts are very red. CO-03 must be at least a third of the state-- the entire western part of Colorado and half the southern part. The cities are Grand Junction and Pueblo but most of the district is rural and empty. There are 29 counties in the district but most of the voters live in just 8-- very red Mesa, swingy Pueblo, blue La Plata, swingy Garfield, red Montrose, blue Eagle, red Delta and blue Routt. Like Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert didn't hide her severe sociopathy, but, unlike Taylor Greene, she didn't win in a landslide. She beat a weak and unconvincing moderate, Diane Mitsch Bush, 220,634 (51.4%) to 194,122 (45.2%). This is Bernie country and had the Democrap establishment run a progressive, no one outside of Rifle would be hearing anything about Boebert today unless they read about another in the long list of arrests she's chalked up. In 2016 here's how Bernie did in the CO-03 counties (in order of population):
Mesa- Bernie 57.3% vs Hillary 41.4%
Pueblo- Hillary 51.7% vs Bernie 46.7%
La Plata- Bernie 64.1% vs Hillary 35.8%
Garfield- Bernie 61.5% vs Hillary 36.8%
Montrose- Bernie 54.9% vs Hillary 44.7%
Eagle- Bernie 63.7% vs Hillary 35.2%
Delta- Bernie 69.6% vs Hillary 29.5%
Routt- Bernie 63.0% vs Hillary 35.7%
Montezuma- Bernie 67.3% vs Hillary 32.4%
Pitkin- Bernie 54.7% vs Hillary 45.3%
Gunnison- Bernie 76.3% vs Hillary 22.4%
Archuleta- Bernie 64.2% vs Hillary 34.2%
Alamosa- Bernie 63.0% vs Hillary 34.0%
Moffat- Bernie 56.0% vs Hillary 42.0%
Rio Grande- Bernie 54.6% vs Hillary 43.5%
San Miguel- Bernie 78.3% vs Hillary 21.2%
Huerfano- Bernie 58.4% vs Hillary 36.2%
Conejos- Hillary 58.4% vs Bernie 40.0%
Ouray- Bernie 64.5% vs Hillary 35.5%
Rio Blanco- Bernie 69.2% vs Hillary 30.8%
Custer- Bernie 57.0% vs Hillary 43.0%
Lake- Bernie 73.0% vs Hillary 23.5%
Saguache- Bernie 81.1% vs Hillary 17.4%
Costilla- Hillary 58.4% vs Bernie 40.0%
Dolores- Bernie 62.9% vs Hillary 22.9%
Jackson- Hillary 55.6% vs Bernie 44.4%
Mineral- Bernie 59.5% vs Hillary 38.1%
Hinsdale- Bernie 71.4% vs Hillary 21.4%
San Juan- Bernie 71.1% vs Hillary 28.9%
NC-11 includes beautiful blue Asheville and Buncombe County plus the 15 toilet counties of western North Carolina. The PVI is R+14. The Democrats had an excellent nominee in Moe Davis and he won landslide margins in Buncombe but lost big in the toilet counties where the voters are similar to the voters in GA-14. Mad Cawthorn, already exposed before the election as a Nazi and a compulsive liar, won 245,351 (54.5%) to 190,609 (42.3%).
Last night Andrea González-Ramírez noted that the voters in these 3 districts didn't pick these 3 trolls to legislate but to perform, which was also why so many GOP idiots voted for Trump in 2016 and again in 2020... to entertain and to act out their grievances. She wrote that "The meteoric rise of Cawthorn and his fellow congressional freshmen, Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, can be explained by the fact they are part of a cadre of social-media-savvy lawmakers who know how to brand themselves for maximum effect. They are plenty aware that their nebulous policy agenda is secondary to the effect their extremist beliefs and performative lib-owning can have on voters inside and outside their districts. 'These three people trolled their way to prominence,' said Michael Cornfield, a political scientist and professor at George Washington University who studies politicians’ use of social media. 'By saying outrageous things, they pleased the platforms’ algorithms.' In the age of the attention economy, blasting through the doors of the political scene by being blatantly scandalous pays off. Notoriety on social media leads to notoriety on news media and among establishment figures. Suddenly, voters know your name. Greene, a QAnon supporter, achieved this by employing the same combative online language as disgraced former President Donald Trump, with plenty of conspiracy theories sprinkled in between, including but not limited to delusions that the Parkland school shooting was staged and claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. The 46-year-old has been extremely active online for years... Boebert and Cawthorn’s online presence similarly combines Trumpian combativeness with opinions on imagined culture wars, showers of praise for fellow conservatives, and the occasional conspiracy theory. Take how Boebert tweeted 'Today is 1776' on the morning of the insurrection in the U.S. Capitol that left five dead or how she once liked a post calling former President Barack Obama a 'Kenyan terrorist.' It was pure red meat for her rural, deeply conservative base-- and it was a smart election strategy.
Taking cues from the former president, who played the role of the nation’s biggest troll until he was deplatformed at the end of his term, the trio knew that to acquire power, they needed to evoke strong emotional reactions. Triggering conservatives’ culture of grievance and tribal identification was just as important as horrifying liberals who are quick to quote-tweet someone and call them a disgrace. All engagement, in this view, is good engagement. “Emotional posts are sticky. In politics, the most important emotion-- and this was the case before social media and afterwards-- is anger. Anger gets people into action, and by action I mean donating money, volunteering, or in the ultimate case, attacking the U.S. Capitol,” Cornfield said. “If you’re an impresario of anger, if you know how to push people’s buttons, you’ll do better on social media.”
The members of the 117th Congress' freshman class and their Twitter followers (most have more than one account and the numbers below show their most followed account):
Cori Bush (D-MO)- 699.8K
Lauren Boebert (Q-CA)- 488.7K
Jamaal Bowman (D-NY)- 305.5K
Marjorie Taylor Greene (Q-GA)- 288.7K
Darrell Issa (R-CA)- 279.5K
Mad Cawthorn (Nazi-NC)- 246.2K
Burgess Owens (R-UT)- 237.1K
Mondaire Jones (D-NY)- 107.8K
Kai Kahele (D-HI)- 98.2K
Ronny Jackson (R-TX)- 90.6K
Maria Salazar (R-FL)- 83.8K
Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA)- 74.9K
Ritchie Torres (D-NY)- 68.7K
Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY)- 55.7K
Byron Donalds (R-FL)- 54.8K
Peter Meijer (R-MI)- 50.1K
Marie Newman (D-IL)- 46.9K
Carlos Gimenez (R-FL)- 44.2K
Nikema Williams (D-GA)- 42.7K
Nancy Mace (R-SC)- 33.3K
Pete Sessions (R-TX)- 32.4K
Young Kim (R-CA)- 26.1K
David Valadao (R-CA)- 21.2K
Kat Cammack (R-FL)- 18.9K
Beth Van Duyne (R-TX)- 16.6K
Sara Jacobs (D-CA)- 13.8K
Michelle Steel (R-CA)- 12.4K
Ashley Hinson (R-IA)- 12.3K
Matt Rosendale (R-MT)- 11.4K
Stephanie Bice (R-OK)- 11K
Troy Nehls (R-TX)- 10.8K
Deborah Ross (D-NC)- 9,332
Diana Harshbarger (R-TN)- 9,058
Michelle Fischbach (R-MN)- 8,304
Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI)- 8,089
Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA)- 7,794
Kathy Manning (D-NC)- 7,461
Victoria Spartz (R-IN)- 7,337
Yvette Herrell (R-NM)- 7,021
Randy Feenstra (R-IA)- 6,550
Jay Obernolte (R-CA)- 6,308
Pat Fallon (R-TX)- 5,903
Tony Gonzales (R-TX)- 5,468
Teresa Fernandez (D-NM)- 5,337
Jake Auchincloss (D-MA)- 5,308
Marilyn Strickland (D-WA)- 4,890
Mary Miller (R-IL)- 4,455
August Pfluger (R-TX)- 4,345
Lisa McClain (R-MI)- 2,961
Bob Good (R-VA)- 2,283
Cliff Bentz (R-OR)- 1,881
Tracey Mann (R-KS)- 1,809
Blake Moore (R-UT)- 1,792
Jake LaTurner (R-KS)- 1,692
Andrew Garbarino (R-NY)- 1,600
Barry Moore (R-AL)- 1,434
Frank Mrvan (D-IN)- 1,153
Jerry Carl (R-AL)- 1,056
Scott Franklin (R-FL)- 889
Andrew Clyde (R-GA)- no public account
González-Ramírez continued by noting that "infamy has real-life consequences, too. If there were any impulses to dismiss the trio’s rhetoric as fringe even after four years of Trump, the attack on the Capitol should have erased the last trace of them. They are no longer private citizens-- they are government officials now, and their words carry even more weight. '[The right] created sustained and consistent propaganda that would move people towards action-- people going to the Capitol and being insurrectionists is the endpoint. This is what Trump did for four years. The next wave is picking up where Trump left off,' said Jennifer Grygiel, a social media expert and assistant professor of communications at Syracuse University. 'It’s a political tool. I use the term dangerous memes because it is dangerous rhetoric. It’s propaganda for political means. It’s not done through transparent means, not done through facts or arguing about policy. It’s unethical, and it’s dangerous.'"
Short of deplatforming Greene, Boebert, and Cawthorn, it’ll be nearly impossible to rein them in. At this point in their political careers, it is unclear what the trio wishes to accomplish with their notoriety-- other than ride the being-infamous wave to fame and fortune. Over her first month in Congress, Greene introduced bogus articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden, which she is currently using to fundraise for her reelection. Boebert has made a show of wanting to carry a firearm in the halls of Congress despite rules prohibiting her from doing so. She, too, is fundraising on the back of the controversy. And Cawthorn spoke at the rally that preceded the insurrection, only to sort-of backtrack but not really. Democratic lawmakers have called for the trio and other lawmakers who voted to challenge Biden’s Electoral College results to be removed from Congress for helping incite the attack on the Capitol. And you guessed it-- Cawthorn is now raising money to fight against the “mob” calling for his ouster.
Cornfield points out how the Squad has used their social media prominence to help them build power within the Democratic Party and the House. That’s not the case with Greene, Cawthorn, and Boebert-- at least not yet. “Their capacity to build power doesn’t only rely on how well they tweet,” he said. “They might build power in a conventional way, or they might be content to just make headlines and get clicks. There’s a longstanding difference, for people who watch politics, between show horses and workhorses.”
Workhorses might get things done, but the problem with show horses is that they can kick democracy in the face, too.
Today in an article called Republicans face a choice between Donald Trump and reality, The Economist noted how "This is an awkward moment for the QAnon conspiracists who put their considerable faith in Donald Trump. Inauguration Day came and went with no mass execution of Satanist Democratic paedophiles. The Storm, as a million-odd QAnon followers called that wished-for event, was a shower. So there was no Great Awakening-- a post-slaughter celebration of Mr Trump-- either. 'No plan, no q, nothing,' grumbled one follower, referring to the conspiracy’s shadowy prophet, an imagined Trump aide, on the Telegram messaging platform to which the group has flocked. That followed its expulsion from Twitter and Facebook, after QAnon conspiracists helped lead the assault on Capitol Hill. The companies have since blocked the accounts of tens of thousands; the FBI has arrested some of the alleged insurrectionists, including Jacob Chansley, the 'QAnon shaman.' One of the conspiracy’s architects, Ron Watkins, a Japan-based conspiracy theorist who administered the now-defunct 8chan website on which 'q'’s cryptic messages were posted, says the game is up. 'We gave it our all,' he wrote on Telegram, in an un-millenarian fashion. He and his father, an air-force veteran and former pornographer who once ran a pig-farm outside Manila, are thought by some researchers to have written the cryptic messages from 'Q' that fuelled the conspiracy.
But QAnon is not going away. Updated versions of it are spreading-- including one on TikTok that has pushed the Storm back to March 4th. And the conspiratorial impulse behind QAnon will be even more enduring. Fully half of Mr Trump’s supporters claimed to believe its core falsehoods: that he was fighting a high-level Democratic child-sex operation. As that suggests, the conspiracy is not only dangerous in itself, but both symptom and cause of the bigger epistemic and democratic crisis that Mr Trump has moved from the murkier parts of the internet to the Republican mainstream.
...Infowars, on which Mr Jones spends three-quarters of his time spinning anti-government falsehoods and the rest hawking quack supplements, such as Super Male Vitality, to steel his listeners for the coming civil war, has over 12m visits to its website a month. Fox News, where this week Tucker Carlson attacked the crackdown on QAnon as government mind-control, has millions more viewers. Such truth-bending was one of the enabling conditions for Mr Trump, who appeared on Mr Jones’s show and echoed many of his talking-points during his 2016 primary campaign. Yet the former president, an unfeigned conspiracist, did not only amplify the rise of right-wing conspiracism; he also transformed it.
A genuinely prophetic book by the political scientists Russell Muirhead and Nancy Rosenblum, published in 2019 when QAnon was still in its infancy, describes Mr Trump’s conspiracy theories as a political step-change. Past conspiracies typically sought to explain a genuinely surprising occurrence, such as the ability of a lone gunman to assassinate the most protected man alive. They have also tended to flourish among the powerless. Mr Trump has promoted conspiracies, from Trump Tower and the Oval Office, only to demonise and invalidate his opponents, including the democratic system itself. Thus, his claim that Barack Obama was born in Africa; his attacks on “fake news” and whatever “Deep State” agency or dutiful public servant impeded him; and his electoral-fraud delusion. The QAnon conspiracy, which Mr Trump directly promoted, was essentially an effort by his supporters to write these fabrications into a single narrative.
For Mr Muirhead and Ms Rosenblum, Mr Trump’s conspiracism amounts to a blueprint for political success in a post-truth world, which imitators will probably follow. It is hard to disagree. Mr Trump’s fortunes are a triumph of delusion over political gravity. Despite leading his party to defeat, its leaders may be about to absolve him for inciting an insurrection intended to overturn that defeat, because most of the party’s voters still revere him, in part because they do not believe he was defeated.
It is a stunning achievement, albeit decades in the making. And the longstanding structural weaknesses Mr Trump has exploited, including the grievance politics Mr Carlson pushes, the erosion of established media, the anarchy of the internet, will endure. Twitter’s crackdown on QAnon is of little consequence by comparison.
The fight for American democracy cannot be won by companies-- or election officials or judges. It will be decided by Republican politicians, who now have an opportunity to reset the terms of battle. Democracy thrives as a contest of ideas; it muddles through as a war of interests. But without the shared reality that was the single main target of Mr Trump’s attacks, it cannot function.