Part of the problem with political labels is there's a degree of subjectivity to the categories. What some consider "liberal," for example, might be seen as "moderate" to someone else. Time is also often a factor: Ideas can go from marginal to mainstream as public conversations unfold.
That said, when describing politicians such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, it seems fair to use words like "radical" and "extremist." After all, the Georgia Republican, even before taking office, was recognized as a supporter of the deranged QAnon conspiracy theory.
A month into her congressional career, as we've discussed, an avalanche of new revelations come to the fore: Earlier this year, the public learned of Greene's record of dismissing 9/11 and school massacres as hoaxes. And harassing at least one survivor of a school shooting. And targeting religious minorities. And peddling bizarre claims about fire-causing space lasers.
Perhaps most importantly, in 2018 and 2019, the Georgia Republican expressed support for violence against Democratic elected officials. This included an instance in which she liked a social-media comment about removing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from office by way of "a bullet to the head."
If anyone in American public life deserves to be seen as a radical figure on the political fringe, it's Greene. And yet, the GOP congresswoman published this tweet this week:
"There are a lot of people that need to hear this. We Conservatives in the [House Republican conference] aren't the fringe. We actually represent the base of Republican voters, which is approximately 70%. And when the party learns to represent Conservative Americans, we will never lose again."
She took a nearly identical message to Steve Bannon's podcast, boasting, "We are not the fringe; we are the base of the party."
Here's a scary question to consider: What if Greene's right? What if GOP politics has been radicalized to such an extent that Greene and her likeminded allies really do represent the Republican base?
The Washington Post reported a couple of weeks ago that Donald Trump — by most measures, the leader of the contemporary Republican Party — maintains close contact with several congressional loyalists, but he's spoken with Greene the most.
The article added, "The former president's team has invited her to various rallies because she is popular with the crowd, breaking the usual rule of having speakers only from the state where the rally is held."
Recent polling is even more unsettling. An NBC News poll released last month found that most Republican voters do not believe their votes will be properly counted in upcoming elections. The same survey results showed that only about one in five GOP voters believe President Joe Biden was elected legitimately — a truly ridiculous problem that's grown progressively worse over the course of the year.
As we discussed soon after, the latest polling report from the Public Religion Research Institute pointed in the same direction. A national NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll produced similar findings, with 75 percent of Republican voters embracing the Big Lie as if it were true. Looking ahead to the 2024 presidential election, nearly two-thirds of GOP voters said they won't trust the results if their preferred candidate loses.
Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, added, "When looking ahead to the 2024 presidential election, it is remarkable that a bedrock principle of democracy — that losing candidates and their supporters accept the results — is not held by nearly two in three Republicans who say they will question the results if their candidate does not win."
These are utterly bonkers ideas, embraced by outlandish figures such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, but they're also accepted by most Republican voters, suggesting the line between the GOP mainstream and the GOP fringe has grown awfully blurry.