Prominent Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have been uncharacteristically direct about the threat Greene poses to both the GOP and democratic norms. In a statement Monday, McConnell criticized Greene’s “loony lies and conspiracy theories,” calling them “cancer for the Republican Party and our country.” (Though even in condemnation, McConnell places damage to the Republican brand ahead of the risk Greene and her fellow insurrectionist apologists pose to the country.)
Words are a welcome start, but Americans will judge Republicans by their inactions. When Democrats started the process of stripping Greene of her House committee assignments on Wednesday, the GOP’s response was to threaten more violence if Democrats attempted to punish Greene. “They’ll start a war that they won’t like where it goes,” Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas warned. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy condemned Greene’s actions in a written statement but rejected the idea that Greene should suffer any consequences for her misconduct.
On Wednesday, House Republicans rewarded Greene with a round of applause — some lawmakers even offering a standing ovation — during a meeting in which she admitted some of her past conspiratorial statements were wrong.
This doesn’t bode well for the further remedies needed in the Senate. Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas merit censure for their apparent roles, despite their denials, in inciting the violent lynch mob that stormed the Capitol. McConnell’s unwillingness to do so as of yet — despite privately opposing Hawley and Cruz’s behavior — shows us how far traditional GOP control has fallen. Greene, Cruz and Hawley don’t represent a remote fringe but the unstable center of a new, extremist Republican Party. So long as that unpunished extremism remains, Democrats owe it to the American people to shun the party.
Stepping back from Biden’s good-faith commitment to bipartisanship may rankle moderates, but it’s absolutely critical if the president intends to maintain party morale while proving to the progressive left that he’s no slouch. That calculus isn’t lost on Biden, who won the White House last year thanks in large part to progressive activists and voters of color, two groups eager to start implementing a progressive policy agenda. Bringing Republicans back into legislative power without addressing their conspiratorial excesses would amount to a staggering betrayal.
If Democrats want to continue governing, they’ll need to grow more comfortable with leveraging the tools of power. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s decision to move forward on Biden’s coronavirus recovery plan without Republican votes was an admirable early demonstration of backbone.
Indeed, the willingness of Democratic senators to use the reconciliation process, as Schumer proposes, will be critical, as it allows them to move budget-related legislation forward without the supermajorities required by Senate rules. Invoking reconciliation is proving less controversial than Democrats feared: Even West Virginia Republican Gov. Jim Justice called it impractical to be “fiscally responsible at this point in time.” True bipartisanship means delivering critically needed support to every American regardless of where they live or who they voted for, even if it requires working around GOP lawmakers
Democrats also shouldn’t be afraid to end the filibuster if needed. With reconciliation limited to budget items, Democrats can only address a few key areas of Biden’s domestic agenda without running into Republican obstruction. The filibuster requires that legislation pass by a 60-vote supermajority instead of the more logical 51. In 2013, Senate Democrats killed the filibuster for votes on Cabinet members and judges. In 2017, McConnell’s GOP did the same for Supreme Court nominations. If Republicans continue to block movement, Democrats should dump what remains of the filibuster.
The challenge Biden and congressional Democrats face was summed up well by the progressive activist Marisa Kabas, who tweeted that “the people who didn’t vote for Biden want unity. The people who voted for Biden want action.” For progressive activists, now is the moment to advance key issues like immigation reform and racial justice. It also means strengthening trust in democratic institutions by holding our elected officials to the standard of conduct outlined in their oaths of office. That will be impossible until Greene, Hawley and Cruz are held accountable.
If Democrats want to continue governing, they’ll need to grow more comfortable with leveraging the tools of power.
If the Republican Party can be saved from itself, it will likely be the concerted efforts of Democrats doing the work of government without them that finally invites an internal reckoning. And if the party is unsalvageable, as appears probable, Biden and congressional Democrats have a moral duty to protect the American people from GOP instability. Either way, the nation can’t afford to wait as Republicans decide whether anti-Semitism and insurrection are cancers worth addressing.
Our country faces twin public health and economic crises. The Department of Homeland Security now regards far-right terrorism, spurred on by the unrestrained venom of lawmakers like Greene, as a serious threat to national security. Biden’s offer of bipartisan leadership should still stand, but only if the GOP rises to the moment and enforces accountability within its ranks. Until then, Democrats must govern alone.
One thought on “Marjorie Taylor Greene ovation shows why Democrats shouldn’t deal with GOP”
Just when you think things might, just might, start normalizing, another mentally deficient politician shows her ugly face and exposes the Majority of Republicans for the sad bunch of partisan sheep that they really are. The very sad leadership of Mcarthy now becomes so apparent, is he really the totally ignorant buffoon he portrays himself to be in claiming ignorance of Q-anon and other conspiracy theories the entire world knows about. Is he so gullible as to believe an empty and phoney apology that Marjorie Green puked out on the floor of Government. Sadly this once great Nation slides into the domains of Banana Republics with people like that in Government. Hopefully the other side of the aisle is strong enough to overcome the blight that has infected our nation.