Marjorie Traitor Greene craves celebrity but she refused to cooperate with Atlantic reporter Elaina Plott Calabro, who didn’t need any extraordinary access, in order to write an exposé about why MTG is the way she is… after having been on the ground in the Georgia congresswoman’s alternate universe. In that world MTG is a bona fide superstar, not quite 2 years into her congressional career— in a district that is far safer for a neo-Nazi than either the district Madison Cawthorn represented (R+14 partisan lean) or the one Lauren Boebert may or may not be representing in the 118th Congress, depending how the recount goes (R+15 partisan lean). The partisan lean in MTG’s backward northwest Georgia district is R+45… completely unassailable. GA-14 gave Biden a scant 30.7% of its vote. And despite all the ruckus Democrat Marcus Flowers made in the election this year— and despite the $15,318,792 he raised— he only managed 88,189 votes (34.1%) against MTG’s 170,162 (65.9%). The only county he won was the piece of Cobb County in the district. In backward Murray County— think that scene in Deliverance— she won 84% of the vote, exactly what Trump won in that county in 2020.
Calabro begins her piece in Cobb County, where Republicans seem to revere Traitor Greene as some kind of a religious figure” “She wasn’t greeted. She was beheld, like a religious apparition. Emotions verged on rapture.” Calabro wrote that she “arrived in Congress in January 2021, blond and crass and indelibly identified with conspiracy theories involving Jewish space lasers and Democratic pedophiles. She had barely settled into office before being stripped of her committee assignments; she has been called a ‘cancer’ on the Republican Party by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell; and she now has a loud voice in the GOP’s most consequential decisions on Capitol Hill because her party’s leaders know, and she knows they know, that she has become far too popular with their voters to risk upsetting her.”
Forsyth County, where Marge grew up, was a KKK dream— racially cleansed (violently)— to such a degree that there were no "whites only" signs because there were no Black people to keep separate. Civil rights leader Hosea Williams called Forsyth the most racist county in the South. “Marge Taylor’s worldview was shaped in a community artificially devoid of sociocultural conflict, a history scrubbed of tension… Decades later, as they considered her scorched-earth rise to power— the conspiracy theories and racist appeals and talk of violence against Democratic leaders— some of her teachers would find themselves wondering how they’d failed to notice the young Marge Taylor… How could it possibly be that in fact they had no memory of her at all?”
There wasn’t much going on out of the ordinary in Marge’s life until her late 30s when, Calabro wrote “something in her had started to break,” according to the MTG friends, classmates, teachers and associates she interviewed. But first there was the gym, where she found a sense of community. People there loved her and Calabro explained that “This is something many observers in Washington and elsewhere do not appreciate about Greene: that she can be extremely likable, so long as you are not, in her estimation, among ‘the swamp rat elites, spineless weak kneed Republicans, and the Radical Socialist Democrats who are the demise of this country that we all love and call home.’ She has a sugary voice and a personable, generous affect; she is, when she wants to be, the sort of person whom a stranger might meet briefly and recall fondly to their friends as ‘just the nicest woman.’… At CrossFit, Greene’s warmth made her a star… When Greene was running for Congress, a man named Jim Chambers, jarred by her self-presentation as a paragon of family values, wrote about her alleged extramarital affairs at the gym in a Facebook post. (The New Yorker’s Charles Bethea later reported on text messages from Greene apparently confirming one of the affairs.)”
In 2016, she sold her interest in her gym and… discovered her next obsession: Señor Donald J. Trumpanzee. “Greene’s political origin story was not unlike that of millions of other Trump supporters. Despite having never hinted at an interest in politics, she found herself suddenly beguiled by a feeling, a conviction that despite the distance between Trump’s gold-plated world and her own, she knew exactly who he was. ‘He reminded me of most men I know,’ she has said. ‘Men like my dad.’”
Although Greene’s political awakening was sudden, she would later portray her support for Trump as the unveiling of a well-formed political identity that she’d had no choice but to keep hidden. “I’ve always had strong feelings about politics, but when you’re a business owner, you have to really, really be careful about what you say,” she told a conservative YouTube vlogger in 2019. But when she sold her gym, “something magically happened to me: I didn’t have to worry about what members thought anymore.”
Greene may now have felt free to speak, but it was not clear what she wanted to say. It was clear only that she wanted to say something. It was as though she spent the first six months of Trump’s administration gathering up the scattered feelings and dim instincts that informed her attraction to his brand of politics and examining them under a microscope, twisting the knob until the edges came into focus. By July 2017, Greene was ready to start posting about politics.
She headed to American Truth Seekers, a now-defunct fringe-right website run by a New York City public-school counselor who went by the name Pat Rhiot. The contents of Greene’s earliest posts have been lost to the ether, but the headlines, archived by the Wayback Machine, summarize the brand Greene set out to establish from the very beginning: “Caitlyn Jenner Considering What?” was the first headline, followed over the next few days by “Female Genital Mutilation: America’s Dirty Little Secret” and “Exposed! Confidential Memo to Take Down Trump and Silence Conservatives!”
By August, when the full text of many of her blog posts become available, she was establishing her fierce devotion to gun rights and Donald Trump, and her antipathy toward conventional Republican politicians:
MAGA means get rid of our ridiculous embarrassing massive $20 Trillion dollar DEBT you put us in!! … You see we elected Donald Trump because he is NOT one of you, a politician. He is a business man, and a VERY successful one. WE elected him because he clearly knows how to manage business and money because we all know he has made plenty of it. Oh but not you people!
September saw her going after Hillary Clinton:
You know how we all have that one friend or family member that shows up to the party uninvited and just causes non-stop drama? They lie and make up stories and shift blame to everyone and everything, but constantly refuse to accept reality or the fact that maybe it’s their own fault. They ruin the party and make everyone miserable with all the crap they blubber out of their mouths, while they try to push their agenda on everyone and no one wants it. Yep Hillary. Can she just go away? Can she just go to jail?
Greene’s posts, by the standards of the 2017 far-right blogosphere, were more or less the usual fare, nothing terribly new or uniquely provocative. But Greene, in her brief time posting, had already picked up on something remarkable: People liked that she was ordinary. In the present landscape of conservative politics, ordinariness was a branding opportunity. Ordinariness ensured that even her most banal reflections would sparkle. Ordinariness allowed Greene to offer conservatives what the Alex Joneses couldn’t: affirmation that your neighborhood “full-time mom” and “female business owner” and “patriot” was fed up too. In the fall of 2017, Greene created a new Facebook page exclusively for the dissemination of her political thoughts.
The Republican base was in the market for a Marjorie Taylor Greene— a suburban woman who not only didn’t recoil from Trump but was full-throated MAGA. All over the internet, it seemed, were women who claimed to be conservative and yet could do nothing but choke on their pearls and complain about Trump’s tweets. But now here was regular Marge, who would put America first. Sweet southern Marge, who loved “family, fitness, travel, shooting, fun, and adventure,” and who, as would soon be clear, wanted very much to save the children.
Perhaps decades from now, what will stand out most is how easily the dominoes fell.
Imagine it like this: #SaveTheChildren, right there at the top of the feed. You click on the hashtag— because who, given the choice, would not want to save the children?— and then, suddenly, you are looking with new eyes at the chevron Wayfair rug beneath your feet. It had been 40 percent off during the Presidents’ Day sale, but now you’re wondering: Had this one been used to transport a child, a trafficked innocent rolled up inside? And then not 10 clicks later you find yourself wondering about other things, too— other conspiracies, other dark forces. Because it is curious, now that you’re here, now that you’re wondering, that you can’t recall any CCTV footage of the airplane as it hit the Pentagon on 9/11. You had gone online to check if Theresa had posted photos from the baby shower and now, 20 minutes later, you log off with an entirely new field of vision, the unseen currents of the world suddenly alive.
Perhaps, for Marjorie Taylor Greene, the rug had been houndstooth and the baby shower had been Kerrie’s. But you don’t need the site-by-site search history to understand the narrative of Greene’s descent into QAnon, because the basics are so often the same.
QAnon followers subscribe to the sprawling conspiracy theory that the world is controlled by a network of satanic pedophiles funded by Saudi royalty, George Soros, and the Rothschild family. Though Republican officials have insisted that QAnon’s influence among the party’s base is overstated, former President Trump has come to embrace the movement plainly, closing out rallies with music nearly identical to the QAnon theme song, “WWG1WGA” (the initials stand for the group’s rallying cry, “Where we go one, we go all”). Yet since its inception, in the fall of 2017, when “Q,” an anonymous figure professing to be a high-level government official, began posting tales from the so-called deep state, no politician has become more synonymous with QAnon than Greene. To an extent, Greene had already signaled her attraction to conspiracy theories, questioning on American Truth Seekers whether the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas was a false-flag operation to eliminate gun rights. But with Q, Greene was all in. She has gone so far as to endorse an unhinged QAnon theory called “frazzledrip,” which claims that Hillary Clinton murdered a child as part of a satanic blood ritual.
Ramon Aponte, a right-wing blogger known as “The Puerto Rican Conservative,” became friendly with Greene soon after she began posting about Pizzagate, the conspiracy theory that a Washington, D.C., restaurant was involved in a Democratic-run child-sex ring. “Even though the mainstream news media ‘debunked’ it, nobody ever conducted an investigation on it,” Aponte told me. “And Marjorie Taylor Greene knew this … She was a voice for the silent majority.” (After a North Carolina man’s armed raid of the restaurant, in December 2016, Washington police did, in fact, investigate, and pronounced the theory “fictitious.”)
Was Greene a true believer? Her early outpouring of breathless posts gives that strong impression— she comes across as a convert intoxicated by revelation. But in time, her affiliation with QAnon brought undeniable advantages. It was not until she latched on to Q and Q-adjacent theories that Greene’s political profile achieved scale and velocity. The deeper she plunged, the larger her following grew. And the more confident she became.
As the months passed, she started experimenting with a new tone; she would still be regular Marge and sweet southern Marge, but she would also be Marge who told the “aggressive truth”— who wasn’t afraid to be real. In Facebook videos posted from 2017 to 2019, Greene talked about the “Islamic invasion into our government offices.” She said: “Let me explain something to you, ‘Mohammed’ … What you people want is special treatment, you want to rise above us, and that’s what we’re against.” She talked about how it was “gangs”— “not white people”— who were responsible for holding back Black and Hispanic men. She objected to the removal of Confederate statues, saying: “But that doesn’t make me a racist … If I were Black people today, and I walked by one of those statues, I would be so proud, because I’d say, ‘Look how far I’ve come in this country.’ ” The most “mistreated group” in America, she went on to say, was “white males.”
By the end of 2018, Marjorie Taylor Greene was awash in validation. Especially from men. She found herself suddenly fielding marriage proposals in the comments beneath her selfies. “Ok ok ok so you’re totally gorgeous I got that the first time I saw u,” one person wrote, “but you seal the deal with what’s in your head, I love the message of truth u bring and inform all who will listen I’M SOLD!!!” Greene, as she often would upon reading such comments, clicked the “Like” button in response.
Greene began to meet up with people from her Facebook circle. In March 2019, she traveled to Washington, D.C., as the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on restrictive gun legislation. At one point, in a now-infamous confrontation, Greene began following David Hogg, a survivor of the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. The shooting had left 17 dead, and Hogg had come to Washington to make the case for gun-control measures. Wearing a black blazer and leggings, a pink Michael Kors tote slung over her shoulder, Greene accosted the 18-year-old and, with a friend capturing the encounter on video, badgered him about his support for the bill: “You don’t have anything to say for yourself? You can’t defend your stance? How did you get over 30 appointments with senators? How’d you do that? How did you get major press coverage on this issue?” Hogg walked on in silence as Greene continued: “You know if school zones were protected with security guards with guns, there would be no mass shootings at schools. Do you know that? The best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.”
Greene would later trace her decision to run for office to the frustration she’d felt during that trip: No one had paid her any attention. That would have to change. As she posted on a website called The Whiskey Patriots just after the Hogg incident, and just before she launched her bid for Congress: “Let the war begin …”
She ran and she won, of course, in Georgia’s Fourteenth District, in a largely rural outpost in the northwest corner of the state. Voters did not seem to care that Greene, who had judged the solidly conservative area to be friendlier to her chances than her home district in suburban Atlanta, had never actually lived there.
Shortly after she was sworn into office, in January 2021, her harassment of Hogg, as well as old social-media posts in which she endorsed the claim that the Parkland shooting was a false-flag operation, surfaced into public view. In her maiden speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, she set out to blunt the criticism she was receiving. Much of the speech was a disavowal of her own past statements. She conceded, for example, that 9/11 had actually happened, and that not all QAnon posts were accurate. “I was allowed to believe things that weren’t true,” she protested.
…In late September 2022, Perry Greene filed for divorce from Marjorie Taylor Greene on the grounds that the marriage was “irretrievably broken.” His timing— so close to the midterm election— did not go unnoticed in Georgia political circles. Six weeks later, on November 8, Marjorie easily won reelection to her second term in the House of Representatives.
Given her popularity among a segment of the Republican base, she is certain to play a major role in the GOP leadership, whether that role comes with a specific title and assignment or not. She wields power much like Donald Trump, doing or saying the unthinkable because she knows that most of her colleagues wouldn’t dare jeopardize their own future to stop her.
What Marjorie Taylor Greene has accomplished is this: She has harnessed the paranoia inherent in conspiratorial thinking and reassured a significant swath of voters that it is okay— no, righteous— to indulge their suspicions about the left, the Republican establishment, the media. “I’m not going to mince words with you all,” she declared at a Michigan rally this fall. “Democrats want Republicans dead, and they’ve already started the killings.” Greene did not create this sensibility, but she channels it better than any of her colleagues.
…Whether Greene actually believes the things she says is by now almost beside the point. She has no choice but to be the person her followers think she is, because her power is contingent on theirs. The mechanics of actual leadership— diplomacy, compromise, patience— not only don’t interest her but represent everything her followers disdain. To soften, or engage in better faith, is to admit defeat.
These aren’t special or in any way extraordinary; quite the contrary. This is any day on Marge's Twitter feed. These just happened to be there when I put this into Wix. Do you think she needs psychiatric care?