Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) speaks at a news conference alongside Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) at the Capitol on May 1, 2024, in Washington.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) speaks at a news conference alongside Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) at the Capitol on May 1, 2024, in Washington. ()

(Tribune News Service) — Last week Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., ignored Donald Trump’s endorsement of Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., as House speaker and announced plans to try to force him out. One can only assume she is making that attempt for attention, because it seems doomed to fail on the House floor. Democrats have already pledged to support Johnson, and he has backing from much of the Republican caucus.

You may recall, Greene and the rest of the Freedom Caucus were the reason it took 15 rounds for former Rep. Kevin McCarthy to get enough votes to win the speakership. The caucus is also why he got fired last October, after less than a year. He resigned from the House at the end of last year.

And now Greene — who infamously blamed secret Jewish space lasers for wildfires and compared mask mandates to the Holocaust — is making another play for the spotlight. This time it happened to be the same week that the House passed its Antisemitism Awareness Act, an unnecessary bill that at best appears to be doing something. At a moment when pro-Palestinian and humanitarian aid demonstrations are spreading across college campuses, the law would target dangerous speech against Jews … but the nation already has relevant laws against hate crimes and certain types of speech.

The juxtaposition of Greene’s stunt seems rich, doesn’t it? Does the ruling party in the House condemn anti-Jewish hate speech or amplify it? Do Republicans stand for order or chaos?

The legislation passed 320-91. There were 70 Democrats who voted against it. Greene was among the 21 Republicans who opposed it. Much of the concern from the nays was on defining antisemitism. Some critics feared the measure would infringe on freedom of speech.

What does Greene hope to achieve with her nay vote? Or with her campaign to oust Johnson? It’s anyone’s guess. Two years ago, she spoke at a white nationalist conference, and still she was reelected. Maybe she is exactly what her constituents want. She is very much not what Republican leaders in the House want right now.

For those House Republicans who don’t hang out with white nationalists or say antisemitic things, but who have coddled Greene and the Freedom Caucus, the brewing storm looks a lot like karma. You can’t embrace a platform based on anti-intellectualism and half-truths and then get mad when someone does something stupid.

Trumpeting her intention to force Johnson out of the speakership because he worked with Democrats to pass Ukraine aid, Greene said she “can’t wait to see my Republican conference show their cards and show who we are.” Giving us her best Joan of Arc, she added: “Are they willing to actually fight? Or are they going to just keep going along to get along?”

The challenge Greene represents is not about differences in policy. This is about what’s required in a democracy. We are a flawed nation working toward a more perfect union. But we are never going to get there by continuing to allow the most immature among us to get their way. And forcing the House to look for a third House speaker in one term would be incredibly immature.

And here’s the thing: The rot within the Republican Party does damage far beyond Congress. Members of the Freedom Caucus have behaved like spiteful toddlers since 2015 by obstructing government and as a result have normalized tantrums. Now, as the nation is debating what to do about humanitarian aid in Gaza and the protests on our college campuses, the serious conversations that we need to have are constantly being hijacked by political theater — including the House’s antisemitism bill and the recent parade of hearings to grill college officials.

Domestic politics should not distract us from why so many are protesting. Last month the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution asking for Israel to be investigated and held accountable for possible war crimes. Many of the weapons being used in its war against Hamas are American. Everyone in the U.S. should be concerned about Israel’s war and the safety of people in both Gaza and Israel.

Many students I’ve spoken with are focused on the hostages and civilian casualties. Meanwhile some leaders in Washington are fixated on political theater or trying to micromanage campuses or on toppling the latest speaker of the House. There is chaos on both fronts and regrettably immaturity as well.

LZ Granderson is an Op-Ed columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

©2024 Los Angeles Times.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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