Will Marjorie Taylor Greene Be the Republican Nominee for Vice President?

Will Marjorie Taylor Greene Be the Republican Nominee for Vice President?

Will Marjorie Taylor Greene Be the Republican Nominee for Vice President?

The Congress member and conspiracist is reportedly positioning herself to be Trump’s running mate—but her ambitions may be even bigger.

Facebook
Twitter
Email
Flipboard
Pocket

The beleaguered American republic barely had time to wrap its head around the stupefying phrase “Marjorie Taylor Greene, House oversight committee member” before having to confront an abrupt escalation: “Marjorie Taylor Greene, vice-presidential hopeful.” Yes, the Georgia representative, notorious for her allegiance to conspiracy theories such as QAnon and the scourge of “Jewish space lasers” touching off forest fires, is reportedly positioning herself to be Donald Trump’s running mate for the presidency in 2024. An adviser to Greene told NBC News senior political reporter Jonathan Allen that “her whole vision is to be vice president” and predicts that she’ll land on Trump’s short list.

Some Washington insiders greeted the report with a derisive spit take. “She’s no Julia Louis-Dreyfus,” says William Kirstol, referencing the actress who played the bumbling and foul-mouthed Selina Meyer in the HBO political satire Veep. But other observers of both Greene’s public career and Republican politics in the age of Trump don’t dismiss the prospect. “I totally think Trump could go for it,” says Michael Rothschild, a journalist covering conspiracy culture and author of a recent history of QAnon, The Storm Is Upon Us. “He likes Greene, and the fan base that she has is very much what he wants.” 

Beyond the obvious affinities that two of the country’s best-known conspiracy-mongering attention hounds share, there’s a political logic to the match. “I think that Trump is losing some of the far right because of his vaccination stance,” Rothschild says. “I think the far right has become so enmeshed with vaccine opposition and vaccine conspiracy theories that you can’t afford to ignore them.” And Trump is not just ignoring them; he’s openly contradicting them. “Trump takes as one of the only achievements of his presidency the development of the Covid vaccine,” Rothschild notes. “And the people who most fervently supported Trump are now the people against that.”

Indeed, in his so far lackluster second reelection bid, Trump does appear to be conscious of this weakness and has taken steps to address it. His Doral, Fla., resort compound recently agreed to host a stop on the nationwide “Reawaken America” tour spearheaded by Turning Points USA Executive Director Charlie Kirk and Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The barnstorming crusade is a protest of vaccines and lockdown measures—and a hotbed of MTG-style conspiracy-mongering, with at least two QAnon supporters scheduled to be on the dais for its stop in Doral. 

Greene, for her part, is an ardent vaccine and lockdown skeptic. Early on in her first term in Congress, she recorded a video in a hotel gym that went viral, alleging that the 2020 Covid lockdown was an exercise in “Democrat tyranny control.” She later likened Covid lockdowns and masking to the Holocaust. Now, in exchange for her support for House Speaker ’s leadership bid, Greene has landed a plum seat on a new House investigative committee targeting the federal government’s response to the Covid pandemic, which will give her an influential platform to broadcast her Covid persecution fantasies. 

But Greene brings more to the table than a mastery of the conspiratorial patois of the MAGA right. As Allen’s report notes, Greene is a leading House Republican fundraiser, raking in nearly $12.5 million for GOP candidates during the 2022 midterm cycle—a take that places her among the top 10 House fundraisers. Her outsize cash profile also makes political sense in the Trump-branded GOP: The shortest path to big money on the right is to create outrage across the mediasphere—the more extreme and baroque the better—and to reel in boatloads of small donations through sky-is-falling e-mail appeals. This model of organized-panic fleecing antedates Trump, of course—it has roots in the rise of the New Right in the 1970s, and probably got its first major contemporary upgrade after South Carolina GOP Joe Wilson’s cry of “You lie!” during Barack Obama’s 2009 State of the Union address, which helped Wilson raise more than $1 million over the following three days. But it’s arguably become the dominant career path for ambitious and on-the-make right-wing lawmakers, as Greene’s colorful and lucrative two terms in Congress show. 

Rothschild, who’s followed Greene’s national political career from the beginning, contends that even her seeming gaffes bear the imprint of media calculation. “It’s easy to think of her as stupid and uneducated. And I wouldn’t say she’s a genius, but she’s very, very savvy at social media. She does these misspellings and says things like ‘the gazpacho police,’ and she knows people are going to share it, calling her stupid and dunking on her. And she gets more traffic that way. She then goes to her fans and says, ‘Hey, they think we’re dumb.’”

“Greene herself as a representative doesn’t have a broad base of support in traditional politics,” says Nicole Hemmer, a Vanderbilt University historian of the American right. “But the fundraising mechanisms and the media incentives that go along with her brand of outrage politics do allow a backbencher to gain a significant amount of power. Her positioning vis-à-vis McCarthy, and her willingness to reconcile herself to leadership show a savvy that a lot of her colleagues on the right lack.” 

Hemmer also doesn’t consider a Trump-Greene ticket in 2024 as outlandish: “In 2016, Trump brought on Pence as a loyalist compromise candidate who would serve part of the base that Trump needed to reassure—and Trump’s presidency ended with a mob of people trying to hang him. So having someone on the ticket who can be expected to be loyal because she doesn’t have a base out of the MAGA Republicans—I would imagine that Trump could calculate very easily that she’s someone who would remain loyal throughout his presidency.” 

Of course, all such talk is speculative so early in the GOP presidential scrum. Trump is already harried by the prospect of a presidential run by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is aggressively trying to outflank Trump on a battery of culture-war issues that could unite the white nationalist right behind him. “Trump is getting pinched on both sides,” says longtime GOP consultant Timothy Miller. “The 2016 Rubio voter who came to terms with him is looking around again, and the MAGA side is getting restless. I saw this when I went to the Turning Point USA conference before Christmas. It was still a Trump-friendly crowd, but you could tell he was misaligned with them on the vaccine. It was a very DeSantis thing—anti-woke, anti-CRT, and anti-vax. When I spoke with attendees, they were very anti-lockdown as well.” 

This volatile politics of culture-war tantrum-throwing could break in any number of directions as the primary season draws near. It used to be the case that running mates would either serve as attack-dog surrogates for the more statesman-like presidential nominee or else bring some additional constituency into play for a major party ticket. But such calculations are increasingly irrelevant for a right-wing party addicted to mediagenic grievance politics. “Would Greene make more sense on a DeSantis ticket?” Hemmer asks, raising another possibility that can’t be guffawed out of consideration. 

There’s also the scenario in which Greene finds the Trump brand too limiting for her own ambitions. “It’s weird, you know. She’s a second-term member of the House, but she’s bigger than him in a way,” Rothschild says. “She’s on the upswing. She’s the one on Fox News and on these new committees. This would be a way for her to really catapult herself if she goes for it.” Miller doesn’t expect Greene to end up as Trump’s running mate—a more straight-ahead Trump loyalist in the House, like New York Representative Elise Stefanik, is a more likely bet, he reckons. But, he adds, “a more concerning outcome is Trump not running and Greene running. That’s not a totally implausible outcome. It’s certainly more plausible than Nikki Haley winning the GOP nomination.”

Dear reader,

I hope you enjoyed the article you just read. It’s just one of the many deeply-reported and boundary-pushing stories we publish everyday at The Nation. In a time of continued erosion of our fundamental rights and urgent global struggles for peace, independent journalism is now more vital than ever.

As a Nation reader, you are likely an engaged progressive who is passionate about bold ideas. I know I can count on you to help sustain our mission-driven journalism.

This month, we’re kicking off an ambitious Summer Fundraising Campaign with the goal of raising $15,000. With your support, we can continue to produce the hard-hitting journalism you rely on to cut through the noise of conservative, corporate media. Please, donate today.

A better world is out there—and we need your support to reach it.

Onwards,

Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

Ad Policy
x