Normal vs. Crazy: Exhibit 1

In our last post, Normal vs. Crazy, we discussed the growing trend among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle toward extremism—and we ended with a warning to Democrats not to go down the same sordid path Republicans have traveled in recent years. While both sides have a lunatic fringe, the fringe has gone fully mainstream within the Republican Party, and it didn’t take long to find further evidence of the GOP’s slide toward ignominy.

On Presidents’ Day, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, hot off her own recent divorce, took to Twitter to declare that the U.S. should get a “national divorce,” splitting into red and blue states, because she’s “done” with the “sick and disgusting woke culture issues shoved down our throats” and “the Democrat’s traitorous America Last policies” (sic). She went on to describe a plan to tear the country in two and practically disband the federal government, of which she herself is a part, and to which she swore an oath to defend.

Aside from the logistical inanity of the idea, and the fact that it’s been tried before with brutal effects, our old pal Marge proved herself (yet again) to be nothing more than a wholly unserious rabble-rouser—and a dangerous one at that. It’s almost as if supporting conspiracy theories like QAnon, making anti-Semitic and racist comments, and endorsing violence against political opponents just wasn’t cutting it anymore. Her advancing the idea of a “national divorce,” which, rather than one misguided tweet, has turned into a campaign she’s pushed ever since, somehow takes it to a whole new level of crazy. (Any word yet from Sarah Huckabee Sanders on whether this qualifies as “normal”? How about from Kevin McCarthy? No? Shocking.)

Do you want a real example of normal? Or, more accurately, what should be normal? Check out this video clip of Utah Sen. Mitt Romney at a Senate Budget Committee hearing entitled “Climate-Related Economic Risks and Their Costs to the Federal Budget and the Global Economy.” Romney pointed out the need for the U.S. to prioritize investments in innovation and technology to combat the effects of climate change—something many Republicans are loath to even mention by name. He also managed to respectfully oppose feel-good efforts by Democrats that don’t really lower global emissions. Wait…addressing a critical issue? Doing it like an intelligent adult? With facts and data, no less? Are we certain this is a real Congressional hearing and not some AI-constructed deep fake?

Oh, it’s real. To be sure, Romney isn’t the only good legislator left on the Hill, but he’s definitely one of an increasingly rare breed for his willingness to work across the aisle and his pragmatic approach to policymaking. He’s also inherited the “maverick” mantle of independence and courage that the late Sen. John McCain was so well known for. Navigating complex policy issues and skillfully balancing the needs of different stakeholders doesn’t make one a “RINO,” as Romney has been called; it makes them a leader.

On the other end of the scale, Romney’s fellow Republican, Greene, is a performance artist. If political porn is a thing, Marge is its brightest star, alongside pals like Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar, and Lauren Boebert. Whether they actually believe the blather they put out into the world is almost irrelevant. Either way, for the sake of attention, they undermine public trust in institutions—including the media, law enforcement, the electoral process, and so much more—and, just as destructively, our faith in each other. 

Instead of taking her leadership role seriously and working to restore civility by example, Greene’s “solution” to the polarization she has gleefully exacerbated is to nullify a union that has endured, thrived, suffered, and prevailed for nearly 247 years. Jeez, Marge, if you can’t do your job, just resign; don’t burn down the place. But like a modern-day Nero, Marge will play her kazoo while Rome burns.

Greene’s tweets demonstrate a clear inability to grasp the concept of pluralism—the peaceful coexistence of multiple groups with diverse cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. That concept has long been enshrined—by our Framers and beyond—in American law and policy, recognizing that people with a wide range of beliefs, values, and customs can maintain their unique identities and traditions while still contributing to the larger American society. Greene is saying no, they can’t. But what she is really saying—inadvertently, of course—is that she can’t.

Greene has revealed not America’s incompetence but her own. For pluralism to work, the willingness and ability to cooperate—skills Greene lacks—are essential. Cooperation helps build consensus, promotes accountability, encourages participation, fosters social cohesion, and ensures that the needs and concerns of citizens are being addressed. Without it, democracies become gridlocked, divisive, and ineffective. Mitt Romney gets that. So do lawmakers like Sens. Maggie Hassan, Mark Kelly, and Lisa Murkowski, and Greene’s House colleagues Brian Fitzpatrick, Abby Spanberger, Henry Cuellar, and Elissa Slotkin, to name a few. Greene, on the other hand, scoffs at the very idea of compromise. Proudly so. She can’t cooperate, so why should the country bother? That’s her position. Someone ought to remind her that our country is not her marriage.

What could Greene be doing instead of trying to drive the country apart? Ahead of the midterm elections a few months ago, Georgians identified the high cost of living (28%), the economy (19%), and abortion rights (13%) as their biggest concerns. In Congress, Greene’s legislative activity has largely focused on attempting to impeach President Biden (five times), impeach Attorney General Merrick Garland, expel Rep. Maxine Waters from the House, fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, ban vaccine passports, and award Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse a Congressional Gold Medal. Talk about being out of touch with your constituents.

Marjorie Taylor Greene considers herself a great American patriot. Her personal refusal to accept and promote pluralism as one of the foundational principles upon which the country was built—part of her very job description—says otherwise. We already knew she was unfit to serve as a representative of the United States; now, by her own words, we know she is effectively calling to dissolve the union itself. Congress is not the right place for a person like Greene. And given her latest comments, America may not be either.