The consternation and hand-wringing over the views of the Notorious MTG, aka Marjorie Taylor Greene, the GOP nominee to Georgia’s 14th Congressional district, needs a bit of perspective. It’s not that Ms. Greene’s apparent belief in the QAnon conspiracy theory puts her far out of the mainstream. It’s that her belief isn’t far enough out of the mainstream to make her unacceptable to a lot of voters -and not just the primary runoff voters in GA-14.
-In Oregon, after winning the Republican nomination to the US Senate, Jo Rae Perkins posted a video (now deleted) on social media, pledging the QAnon slogan: “Where we go one, we go all.”
-Lauren Boebert, who defeated a five-term Republican incumbent in the primary for Colorado’s third Congressional district, “hopes that Q is real…” because “…it only means America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values, and that’s what I am for.”
-Republican Mike Cargile, running for California’s 35th Congressional district just east of Los Angeles, includes the hashtag #WWG1WGA on his Twitter profile because he “…think[s] it is the perfect sentiment for all Americans to have toward one another.”
-K.W. Miller, an allegedly “conservative” commentator, is an independent seeking Florida’s 18th Congressional seat who claimed in July that “Beyoncé is not even African American. She is faking this for exposure. Her real name is Ann Marie Lastrassi. She is Italian. This is all part of the Soros Deep State agenda for the Black Lives Matter movement…” (And as odd as that may sound, it’s not even a very unusual statement from Mr. Miller, whose Twitter feed provides a real-time horror show of militant mental illness.)
At this count, there are at least 15 identified candidates seeking office who feel comfortable enough with the QAnon conspiracy to either explicitly campaign on it or accept Q’s so-called “principles.” Of those, 14 are Republicans, at least in the technical sense, but keep in mind that these candidates are appealing to voters who do not think that wearing the Q-shaped tin-foil hat disqualifies them from holding public office. Ms. Greene may not be in good company, but she has plenty of it.
The QAnon paranoia can’t be explained by psychotropic chemicals in the water or moldy wheat in just a few scattered areas -it’s nationwide. A June, 2020 poll conducted by Joseph Uscinski, a political scientist at the University of Miami and an expert on conspiracy theories, found that 45 percent of Americans believe “There is a “deep state” embedded in the government that operates in secret and without oversight.” It also found that 47 percent of Americans believe “Official government accounts of events cannot be trusted;” and 51 percent agree with the statement “Much of the mainstream news is deliberately slanted to mislead us.” In a political environment such as that, candidates would have to be crazy if they didn’t have at least one conspiratorial plank in their platforms.
Now it’s not like America hasn’t ever elected kooks to Congress before. Cynthia McKinney was a Democrat representing Georgia’s 4th District -and a 9/11 Truther who supplemented her anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial with conspiracies about Hurricane Katrina. Democrat Hank Johnson, her successor, is most famous for worrying that Guam might “tip over.” Georgia Congressman Paul Broun described evolution, embryology and the Big Bang Theory as “…lies straight from the pit of hell.” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA43) led an actual congressional inquiry to determine if the CIA was selling crack cocaine in Los Angeles. (Spoiler: It was not.) Now a US Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz first campaigned for office by opposing Agenda 21 as a plot to “…subvert liberty, our property rights, and our sovereignty…” -funded by George Soros, because of course.
None of this should be read as an attempt to excuse or justify the contumacious tone of Ms. Greene’s rhetoric, nor her low-class ejection of the AJC’s Greg Bluestein from her campaign victory party -tossing reporters out of campaign events is the behavior of brown-shirted bullies, not American patriots. But it should be noted that while she may be a whack-job, she is far from being a lone whack-job, and that the once-fringe QAnon conspiracy is becoming less fringe and more widespread every day.
Congress was designed to represent the people of America in large part by electing people to who mostly closely reflect the views and ideas of those people. Sometimes, sadly, it does that far too well.