Marjorie Taylor Greene’s visit to NC is a troubling sign for a party in turmoil

·3 min read
ERIN SCOTT AP

North Carolina is in for a star-studded weekend, if QAnon believers, election deniers and Christian nationalists are your idea of celebrities. On Friday, three North Carolina cities will welcome far-right politicians: Donald Trump will be in Wilmington for a rally, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene will be keynoting a Wake County GOP event, and U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert will be in the Charlotte suburbs to speak at a conference.

Greene’s appearance in Wake is disturbing, but not surprising. The Wake County Republican Party, which serves the most populated county in the state, is hosting a politician who has been called out for her extremist rhetoric. Such an invitation illustrates a growing tension Republicans face in confronting the far right members of the party.

Greene’s track record of extremism includes saying California wildfires were the result of a Jewish family with a space laser, called for executing Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats, endorsed QAnon (the conspiracy theory that Donald Trump was trying to save the world from a Democratic cabal of pedophiles) and suggested the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were fake. On her website, she sells shirts that say “Proud Christian Nationalist” and “Defund the FBI.”

Some Republicans are challenging Greene’s appearance indirectly, or at least distancing themselves from it, and that’s good. Candidates Donnie Harrison, Erin Pare and Josh Harris have said they won’t be attending, citing the bustle of their current campaigns.

Brent Woodcox, a Republican Senior Policy Counsel in the General Assembly, explicitly criticized the local party, calling the fundraiser “a convention of willingly duped morons and easy marks for grifters and con men.” We wish more Republicans would follow his example.

One Republican who’s missing the event: Bo Hines, the Republican candidate for NC-13, who is spending the evening with Trump and Senate candidate Ted Budd in Wilmington. Still, the Hines campaign told the News & Observer he “is thankful to the numerous Republican Members of Congress who are supporting his candidacy.” That’s a possible nod to Boebert, who is tied to Hines through a joint fundraising committee and is attending an NC event held by a faith-based nonprofit. Boebert, a Colorado representative, once promised to carry a gun onto the House floor and said in June she was “tired of this separation of church and state junk.”

The tension between extreme and mainstream is hardly limited to North Carolina, of course — and as with most things Republican, it centers on Trump. The former president has shifted even further to the right in recent months, following the January 6 hearings and the raid on his Mar-a-Lago home. Last Saturday, Trump rally organizers in Ohio played music that sounded alarmingly like the conspiracy theory’s “theme song.” Also, attendees gave the former president a QAnon salute. He did not object then or after.

Greene has long leaned into such extremism. Now, Wake GOP organizers are apparently embracing it. It’s a troubling normalization of what used to be the fringe of the GOP, something that has occurred over the last few years.

This week, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, gave a speech about the future of his party. He warned of “bullies” on the right and told reporters that “a vocal corner of conservative politics is defined more by attitude — and anger — than commitment to a specific set of ideals.”

That corner of the GOP will be on full display in North Carolina this week. We hope that, like Ducey, Republicans here can find their voice and stand against extremism. The party, and a lot more, is at stake.