Marjorie Taylor Greene has had a busy few days since being sworn into Congress. Known in the mainstream media as the “Qanon congresswoman” due to her support for the baseless far-right conspiracy theory QAnon, which posits the existence of a deep state cabal of left-wing cannibals and pedophiles angling for a new world order, Taylor Greene first big move in Congress was a dramatic announcement that she was filing for articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden. Reporters have since dredged up the congresswoman’s increasingly bizarre and unhinged social posts from her past, from her old Facebook posts calling for the execution of Democrats to her claims that the Parkland and Sandy Hook school shootings were “false flag” operations, prompting several gun control advocacy groups to call for her resignation.
Most recently, an old YouTube video of Taylor Greene appearing to harass Parkland survivor and gun control advocate David Hogg was posted on Twitter by Fred Gutenberg, the father of a young woman who was killed in the shooting. According to reporting from CNN, on Facebook, Greene had previously called Hogg a “#littleHitler,” and agreed with comments calling him a “paid actor.” (In response to the story, she posted a statement on Twitter saying, “Fake News CNN is writing yet another hit piece on me focused on my time before running for political office. I will never back down to the enemy of the American people and neither should you.”)
Despite all this, as well as advocacy groups‘ calls for Taylor Greene to resign, she remains in office. And her presence continues to embolden the right-wing extremists who have increasingly rallied behind her since her November election to the 14th congressional district of Georgia. In the absence of an ally in the White House, they increasingly view her as a leader within the movement.
Immediately following her win last November, many pundits were concerned about Taylor Greene’s position in Congress lending legitimacy to the QAnon community. However, believers in the conspiracy theory were not as concerned about her win, Mike Rothschild, QAnon expert and author of The World’s Worst Conspiracies, told Rolling Stone at the time. The reaction among QAnon believers was “a little bit muted, actually. They haven’t been talking about it much. When Greene’s win was called, a few reacted with smiley face emojis or American flags [but] they don’t necessarily regard Greene and [fellow Congressperson and alleged QAnon believer Lauren] Boebert as true Q believers. They’re not considered major personalities in the movement.”
In the months since, however, and in the absence of Trump in the White House, that has changed somewhat, says Kevin Grisham, associate director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. “She is definitely gaining prominence among the QAnon followers, particularly those who are looking for a political figure to lead them in achieving their goals to reinstall Trump,” he says. “I think as things go forward — if she keeps up the stolen election argument and things she has said previously — she will gain more importance and keep the movement alive for longer. I suspect the Q narrative will change slightly to incorporate her role on fulfilling a destiny they hope will happen.”
Travis View, cohost of the QAnon Anonymous podcast, says he has noticed QAnon followers recently celebrating Taylor Greene, promoting her on the encrypted messaging app Telegram. “They definitely believe that Marjorie on their side,” he says, adding that they even post about ways for QAnon believers to support her.
View agrees that the media coverage of Taylor Greene is fueling much of the support she’s garnered in extremist right-wing communities. “What they like about Marjorie Taylor Greene is that it seems like the mainstream media is upset about her,” he said. “It’s more they just like anything that causes distress to the pundit class or whatever. They like that because it signals a sort of relevancy.” This leaves the news media, including this publication, in a bind: Not covering her means a powerful person is able to operate with impunity and without broad public scrutiny. But covering her, and pointing out the despicable and dishonest things she says, also elevates her profile — including among people who share her particular brand of delusion.
The issue with Taylor Greene’s role in office is not so much that she’ll serve as a front-facing legitimizing force for extremists like QAnon believers, but that her power and influence is a weather vane for the direction of the GOP in general. Put another way, compared to the 147 members of the GOP who believe that the election was “stolen” by President Biden, Taylor Greene’s political views seem terrifyingly quotidian. “It is a significant indication in the direction of the Republican party if they’re welcoming [QAnon believers like Taylor Greene] into their caucus,” says View.
And within the increasingly frustrated and adrift QAnon community, which is still fumbling for ways to rationalize a Trump-led reckoning that will never come, Greene is in a unique position to take the mantle that Trump himself previously had. “The followers still are hoping for the Great Storm to happen and some of the posts I have seen as suggesting Marjorie Taylor Greene will help to make sure that happens with her current actions — impeachment papers being filed against Biden, openly continuing the false claims of election fraud, etc. Trump is still at the center of the destiny (The Great Awakening) but we can see Marjorie Taylor Greene as being seen as a possible facilitator who will assist in making that happen,” says Grisham.
With her hyper-charged rhetoric and antagonistic persona, Taylor Greene “ticks all the boxes of someone who could potentially become a thought leader in the Q community. Right now, it’s a bit rudderless, but if she started talking about it by name, that could change,” says Rothschild, such as if she started referencing Q drops or Q slogans in a non-overt way. “It’s a tricky line to walk, and she’s only been in office a few weeks — I’d say there’s plenty of her time to ingratiate herself into the upper ranks of the Q world.”