February 25, 2023

Marjorie Taylor Greene: A Joke, but Far From Funny.

by Hal Gershowitz

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Some jokes are just not funny. Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, from Georgia’s 14th congressional district, is just such a joke. She will long be remembered for doing and saying crazy, offensive, nutty, generally divisive stuff and remembered for little else. Her most recent excursion into Nuttyland was her pronouncement this week that there should be a divorce between America’s blue and red states. As usual, her nuttiness drew the press coverage she craved.

While Greene says she is not advocating Civil War (which would be a repudiation of her oath of office), the Georgia congresswoman got precisely what she wanted from her reductio ad absurdum, massive attention. “Civil War” exploded as a trending hashtag on Twitter immediately after her plea for a national divorce. So, Greene doesn’t advocate a civil war, although she advocates that anyone relocating from a blue state to a red state would lose the right to vote for at least five years until those former blue-state Americans had been purged of their blue-state proclivities. Greene says she simply advocates a divorce; a divorce, no doubt, with enormous alimony payments to her red-state amen cheerleaders.

By and large, the blue states from which she desires a divorce are the states that contribute the most in federal taxes to the nation’s treasury. The top per capita contributing states are blue states, Connecticut ($15,643), Massachusetts ($13,582), New Jersey ($13,137), New York ($12,820), and California ($10,510). Her divorce-mate red states, well, they unfortunately require much more than they contribute. Wyoming, perhaps the reddest of the red states, requires the most, with about 55% of its revenue coming from Washington. The more conservative, it seems, the more they need from our awful blue states.  

Murad Antia, a senior instructor in business at the University of South Florida, laid it all out last year in a guest column in the Tampa Bay Times. Mississippi receives about $2.07 for every tax dollar it sends to Washington. Kentucky $2.89, Virginia $2.24, West Virginia $2.15, Mississippi $2.09,Alaska $2.07, South Carolina $1.71, and Florida received $1.24 for every dollar it paid in federal taxes. It seems these red states are doing pretty well at the fiscal trough. Conversely, Connecticut got back only .89 for every dollar it sent to Washington, Massachusetts .90, New York and New Jersey .91, and Minnesota .97

Here’s the thing. Most red states receive more from the government than they contribute in tax dollars. A majority of the states with the lowest GDP, South Carolina, Alabama, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Mississippi, are, as might be expected, the most federally dependent states. Greene thinks all these states should divorce themselves from the rest of the country, but probably not from its treasury.

Nutty stuff has been Greene’s stock and trade in Washington. Her nutty pronouncements have earned her barrels of ink and reams of news clippings but have yielded nothing for the people of Georgia other than, perhaps, two Democratic Senators. Her nuttiness has earned her the embrace of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. He has elevated Her Nuttiness to positions on two of Congress’s most important committees, homeland security and oversight and accountability, where her penchant for nuttiness can do some real damage. Not surprisingly, Speaker McCarthy, who has had so much to say about Liz Cheney’s standing up for our constitutional democracy, has been utterly mute regarding Marjorie Taylor Greene’s call to tear it down.

America is a Republic defined by its Constitution. Now, states cannot really separate themselves from the rest of America. While 163 years ago, eleven states tried to separate from America; it turned out to be a messy and deadly flirtation with divorce.

Marjorie Taylor Greene’s call for a red-state, blue-state divorce could be dismissed as mischievous silliness, except it is dangerous in this divisive time in which America finds itself. Seriously dangerous. She is advocating nothing less than one-party rule. She supports an intolerant, authoritarian future, the very thing Benjamin Franklin so feared when he declared that we had a Republic if we could keep it.

She, of course, has to be ecstatic over the attention her reductio ad absurdum is drawing from the likes of Shawn Hannity and Charlie Kirk, and she could care less regarding the criticism from other Republican personalities such as Laura Ingraham, who referred to Greene’s proposal as “the last thing we need,” and Mitt Romney, who described Greene’s divorce proposal as “insanity.”

But here’s the thing; millions, perhaps tens of millions, of voting Americans love this poke-in-the-eye to the American experiment. They are the ever-present clique that George Washington, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and the other founders dreaded. They all knew the path upon which America had walked onto the pages of history would be strewn with obstacles and pitfalls. They knew. From Washington to Lincoln, they knew America’s greatest danger would always come from within its borders when political malaise evolved into an opportunistic contagion. Foreign aggressors would never bring down the new nation, but if America were to fall, it would be at the hands of misguided or misanthropic Americans. Enter the Marjorie Taylor Greene chorus of the American body politic.

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