If you were looking for more evidence, political or otherwise, that America is no longer a collectively serious country, look no further than the sad fact that Marjorie Taylor Greene, along with others with shared ludicrous viewpoints, is a sitting member of the United States Congress. The question we should all be asking ourselves and grappling with the answer to is why this happened and why it will happen again.

In addition to being a propagator of baseless election conspiracy theories and debunked allegations of rampant voter fraud, as well as a sympathizer of last month’s violent, deadly and seditious insurrection and failed coup at the U.S. Capitol, the brand-new freshman representative from northwest Georgia is coming under more intense scrutiny from the press about her dangerously radical and conspiratorial views on a whole range of subjects.

Perhaps the national media would like to take note that Georgia in fact existed before two U.S. Senate seats were up for grabs to determine control of the chamber. Greene has been out there publicly for a long time now, and those of us tuned in to state politics have known for several months that she was coming to Washington to be a blight on a once-proud institution. But nevertheless, it is a good time to examine the statements made and views expressed by the her but also, more importantly, how she was allowed to come into a position to thoroughly disgrace our state on the House floor.

It’s easy for the media to go down a list of Greene’s support for and echoing of looney-tune conspiracies and views on social media. That John Podesta’s emails about pizza toppings secretly indicate which type of children he likes to keep trapped in the basement of a basement-less pizza parlor and molest; that Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and others sacrifice, drink the blood of and wear the faces of infants; that wildfires in the West are caused by Jewish lasers from Outer Space; that high-profile Democrats should be executed with a bullet to the head; that a plane never crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11; and that school and other mass shootings are false-flag operations designed to confiscate your guns.

Even more disturbing is the video of her walking behind and harassing a survivor of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting who has turned his and other survivors’ trauma into activism for tighter, common-sense gun control — and that she proudly recorded all of it. Our state now has someone in Congress who was proud do something that low, who believes or sympathizes with the belief that school shootings like Sandy Hook are staged and harasses victims and their families, and has been appointed by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California to serve on the House Committee on Education and Labor. Shameful.

It would be easy for me, the national media, and citizens in general to simply ask how readers of this column how they would would react or feel if, say, 20 first-graders were murdered at a Barrow County school and a sitting member of the board of education or any elected official denied that it happened or that it was a government ruse. It would be easy to ask how Greene, a mother of three herself, can actually look at herself in the mirror and sleep at night and to just leave it at that.

But it requires more heavy lifting, beyond one newspaper column, to ask and examine why she can sleep well and continue on shamelessly peddling lunacy and anti-Semitism — and why she has been elevated to her current platform. The answer in short: She’s well-funded and there are plenty of people who welcome her with open arms.

Following Greene’s Republican primary runoff win in August over a seemingly sane opponent who one would have thought was sufficiently conservative and pro-Trump but was not publicly known to be a member of sympathizer of QAnon, news outlets reported on big-money donations made to Greene’s campaign.

Among them: groups linked to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows (who scoffed and failed to denounce QAnon when given the chance, claiming to not know what it was); the chairman of the board of the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation; and other GOP mega-donors.

Here’s a snippet of The Guardian newspaper's reporting last summer:

“Some high-profile Republican leaders spoke out against Greene after Politico unearthed the videos of her making racist statements, and the political action committee (PAC) associated with Koch Industries, KochPac, requested a refund of an earlier donation. But campaign finance filings reveal that her campaign continued to be backed by major Republican donors and influential political leaders.

“The Your Voice Counts PAC affiliated with Meadows first donated $2,000 to Greene’s campaign in March. Greene received further support from the Meadows family when the RightWomen PAC, whose executive director is Debbie Meadows, Mark’s wife, endorsed Greene and spent $17,500 to oppose (John) Cowan in the runoff.

“Greene also received significant backing from the House Freedom Fund, the PAC associated with the House Freedom Caucus, of which Meadows was a member before he was tapped as White House chief of staff. Meadows is still featured on the House Freedom Fund’s website. In addition to spending more than $30,000 on an independent expenditure campaign to support Greene over Cowan, the House Freedom Fund raised nearly $90,000 from its own donors, earmarked for Greene’s campaign.”

So if you’re a Democrat, independent or Republican who is uncomfortable with or appropriately outraged by Greene’s statements and conduct, and you’re wondering if the GOP leadership will soundly and unequivocally reject her, sideline her and pressure her to resign, please don’t hold your breath. They have concentrated far more energy on deriding the handful of congressional Republicans like third-ranking caucus member Liz Cheney who took a principled stand for the Constitution and voted to impeach Donald Trump for his whole-hearted incitement of the Jan. 6 insurrection. McCarthy, through a spokesman, has said he finds Greene’s comments to be “disturbing” and plans to “have a conversation with her.” (Boy, that’ll really show her!) But in the meantime, he was more focused on flying down to south Florida to kiss and make up with the now former president whom he correctly pinned responsibility (at least somewhat) for the insurrection on the first time.

That backtracking and his failure to expeditiously and publicly denounce Greene isn’t simply cowardice; it’s an embrace of her and many others similar to her. After all, it was fellow freshman Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, cut from the same cloth as Greene, who was caught live-tweeting the movements of the Speaker of the House during the Jan. 6 insurrection. She hasn’t been reprimanded by her caucus in the slightest. Veteran GOP representatives like Louie Gohmert of Texas have espoused similar conspiratorial, anti-Semitic lunacy to what these new “firebrands” have put forward. And while they, Gohmert especially, might sound like total morons in doing so, it doesn’t make them any less harmful to a healthily-functioning governmental body.

But as Tim Miller, founder of Republican Voters Against Trump and a former Jeb Bush campaign official, told the Guardian about the prominent donations to Greene: “This is how you signal to the Trump base, ‘We are with you. We are going to go along with the most radical, conspiratorial segment of the Trump base to show that you can trust us, that we’re not going to get (fooled) by the media.’”

And therein lies the major problem that we all have to contend with: These people are tolerated, allowed to thrive and well-funded because there is a robust consumer market for them. The Georgia 10th Congressional District’s own Rep. Jody Hice used his radio platform prior to his election to Congress to rail against the mythical “homosexual agenda” and liken being gay to having an addiction to alcohol or drugs. And he wrote in a 2012 book about the gay community plot to recruit sodomize children, citing a satirical column from years prior. Whether he didn't take the time to check on that to realize it was satire, or whether he intentionally misrepresented it, the point is Hice was able to keep spewing that crap on the airwaves because people wanted to listen to it. They wanted to buy his book.

Fox News will continue to allow its primetime hosts to attempt to either normalize what happened on Jan. 6 or assign blame where it isn’t warranted. They’ll continue to coddle white nationalists and white supremacists and stoke grievances about everything under the moon because the network’s executives know the market is there. People love being angry and stuffing down the comfort-food diatribes by loud TV and radio hosts about how they’re all being screwed over by someone else — whether it’s immigrants, Hollywood celebrities or George Soros. They can’t get enough of it, and the ratings will stay high.

And so too will Marjorie Taylor Greene continue to thrive and be able to sleep perfectly well when her head hits the pillow — because her party colleagues and those who outrank her are too cowardly and devoid of principle to stand up to her. Because that campaign bank account is and will continue to be far from dry. Because 75 percent of the people in her district will continue to vote for her — either because they haven’t bothered to do the most basic of research and just select the candidate with “R” next to their name, or because they share her crackpot beliefs.

“She’s bold. She speaks the truth,” one Greene supporter in Rome told NBC News last week.

“I think she’s a good spokesperson for the Republicans,” said another. “She’s a go-getter. And I think we need someone who will step up to the plate.”

Sweet mother of Moses.

If America wants to find its way back to seriousness, if the voters of Greene’s district especially want to be taken seriously and respected, it is time for us to look inward. It’s time to get down to the real roots of why Greene is now in her seat and strategize and put into action what can be done to elevate more responsible, civically-minded people who can operate with basic decency to positions of power. More specifically, it's time to recommit ourselves to critical thought, remain engaged on issues through credible news sources, repudiate those who exploit resentment and paranoia and do nothing to quell the provocation of violent actions, and outvote those who believe someone like Greene is acceptable as a holder of public office.

Until then, the circus marches on, to the great detriment of the country.

Scott Thompson is editor of The Barrow News-Journal. He can be reached at sthompson@barrownewsjournal.com.

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