On Monday, House Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene did what she so often does: she announced on Twitter that the United States should have a “national divorce” between red and blue states. It brought her widespread condemnation, which she doesn’t seem to care about, because it also brought her widespread attention, which was the entire point.
Greene is in a far right extremist district where an overwhelming majority of voters love this kind of deranged behavior. It’s how she knows she can get away with it and still keep getting reelected (one could argue that she might fail to get reelected in that particular district if she stopped behaving so horribly).
So Greene knows that she can say something hideous like this, and bring in a tidy fundraising haul from it, and notch a personal victory out of it. The widespread criticism that comes her way doesn’t matter to her, because it won’t hurt her reelection prospects, and because House “Speaker” Kevin McCarthy is in far too fragile of a position to dare discipline her on any level.
But make no mistake: Greene is harming her own party with these antics. When she pulls this stuff, it keeps the House Republican caucus from being able to get any attention for its overall messaging. And because moderate voters hate these kind of openly villainous antics, Greene’s behavior is harming the reelection prospects of dozens of House Republican incumbents in competitive swing districts. She just doesn’t care, because this isn’t about them, it’s about her.
When Greene posted her latest deranged tweet on Monday, far too many folks had their usual reaction of sitting around and lamenting about how “dangerous” her words are and how much “damage” she’s doing. This is correct, but it misses the point. Greene isn’t doing any new damage to the national fabric that she and her evil party haven’t already done over the past few years. In fact this isn’t even the first time that Greene has pushed this exact same narrative. It’s profitable for her, so she cycles through it every once in awhile. It’s all just a cynical calculation.
What most of the professional lamenters on our side keep failing to pick up on is that the real damage Greene is doing is to her own party. Every time Greene opens her mouth and says something despicable, it harms the Republican Party – and since the Republican Party is inherently evil these days, anything that harms the Republican Party is inherently good for the nation.
In other words, Marjorie Taylor Greene is doing great work – for the Democratic Party. At this point she’s practically a Democratic Party publicist. Every time she speaks, a few more voters swing to the Democrats in moderate competitive House districts. If Kevin McCarthy could find a way to shut her up without losing her support for his fragile speakership, he’d be doing it. Because while McCarthy is a dummy, even he understands that Greene’s antics are likely to cost the Republicans seats next year.
We must push back against Greene’s most deranged words. She’s coming about as close as one can to calling for civil war without saying it in the kind of precise exact words that would make her criminally guilty of attempted incitement. But when we push back against Greene we need to stop doing it with a losing mentality. Because in reality, Greene is dealing us a winning hand. When we push back against her, it should be with the mindset that we can use her unhinged behavior to court moderate voters in House swing districts.
In fact, here’s a constructive approach. Each time Marjorie Taylor Greene says something particularly unhinged or evil, take a moment to help out the Democratic candidates running in competitive House races in 2024. We’ve all seen that we can’t vote her out in her far right district. But we can vote in enough Democrats to ensure that Greene and her party lose majority control. We can keep Greene from ever serving on a committee, or ever having an official voice, again. We do that by helping the Democrats win the closest House races.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report