Marjorie Taylor Greene and the endless doom loop

Without quality candidates, we cannot win elections. Without winning elections, we cannot govern.

After months of delay, the U.S. House of Representatives over the weekend finally passed a $95 billion foreign aid and weapons package, including $60.8 billion for Ukraine — and not a moment too soon. Days earlier, William Burns, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, warned Ukraine could lose the war with Russia by the end of the year because it’s “running out of ammunition.”

Yet, by a margin of 101-112, more House Republicans opposed the Ukraine component than supported it, meaning less than a majority of the majority of the party once led by Cold War crusaders such as Ronald Reagan stood with a key ally in their fight for survival. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) needed Democratic votes to get the bill over the finish line.

It was an embarrassing spectacle.

Sadly, like the lies and conspiracy theories spread in the aftermath of the 2020 election, Georgia was at the epicenter of the action, and for all the wrong reasons. U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Rome) became the voice of the opposition to Ukraine, spewing hot air about deposing Johnson.

For the past month, Greene has been threatening to move forward with a parliamentary procedure known as a “motion to vacate,” which ended the tenure of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) less than a year ago. To win the gavel in the first place, McCarthy buckled to the demand of the hardliners to lower the threshold for a motion to vacate so that any single lawmaker could trigger the process. In the end, it was a deal with the devil, and McCarthy’s fate was sealed by a group of angry and ineffective legislators.

Therein lies the real problem. Until Greene no longer has a place of influence within the Republican caucus, our party has no business being in the majority and not much chance of governing. She is not a serious person, nor is she interested in addressing the challenges we face.

Geoff Duncan

Credit: contributed

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Credit: contributed

With a 22-point Republican advantage, her district in northwest Georgia is ruby red. Along with the 9th Congressional District, Greene’s 14th is the most Republican in our state. Absent an act of self-destruction, her only serious political threat lies in a primary from her right flank, an unlikely prospect in this political climate.

She might never have to worry about winning voters in the suburbs, but her colleagues whose fate will determine control of the lower chamber in the next Congress do.

Remember: The highly vaunted “red wave” of 2022 never materialized. Instead of the 60-seat pick-up McCarthy had suggested, House Republicans now are struggling to hold onto a simple majority with U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher (R-Wis..) heading for the exit early.

As a result of the GOP’s disappointing midterm and threadbare majority, rabblerousers, including Greene, wielded outsize influence.

It’s an endless doom loop. Without quality candidates, we cannot win elections. Without winning elections, we cannot govern.

Unfortunately, our party does not appear willing to take its medicine. In 2022 exit polls released by NBC News, 7 in 10 voters stated that democracy was “threatened.” Just this weekend, new data from NBC show more voters labelling “protecting democracy or constitutional rights” as the most important issue determining their vote, and it wasn’t even close. Relying on President Biden’s widespread disapproval and concerns about his age is not enough.

Yet the House GOP is more identified with the likes of Greene — who has trafficked in wild conspiracy theories, including baseless “space lasers” and rampant election denialism — than anyone else.

Credit is due Johnson, who brushed off threats to his job by stating, “you do the right thing, and you let the chips fall where they may.” He might be an accidental speaker, but he acted with courage, and he got results in a tough situation.

As the House heads into recess, his fate and future remain uncertain, as does the entire House Republican caucus. In the aftermath of the vote, Greene was fear-mongering about “a sellout of America” and saying Johnson needs to do the “right thing to resign.”

Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing. It’s a lesson lost on Marjorie Taylor Greene, who struggles to point her moral compass somewhere other than the ditch. But it’s one our party would be wise to take to heart if we want to compete on the national stage.

A CNN contributor, Geoff Duncan served as Georgia’s lieutenant governor from 2019 to 2023. He is a former professional baseball player and the author of “GOP 2.0: How the 2020 Election Can Lead to a Better Way Forward for America’s Conservative Party.”