WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8, 2023
Our tribunes heard secession: Rep. Greene had sallied forth with her latest dumb idea.
In fairness, her new idea wasn't as crazy as some of her previous offerings. For some examples of what we mean, let's revisit one part of Elaina Plott Calabro's lengthy biographical profile of Greene in The Atlantic:
CALABRO (12/5/22): To an extent, Greene had already signaled her attraction to conspiracy theories, questioning on American Truth Seekers whether the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas was a false-flag operation to eliminate gun rights. But with Q, Greene was all in. She has gone so far as to endorse an unhinged QAnon theory called “frazzledrip,” which claims that Hillary Clinton murdered a child as part of a satanic blood ritual.
She had started with the Las Vegas false flag, then moved on to frazzledrip.
At this point in her profile, Calabro was sketching "the narrative of Greene’s descent into QAnon." Especially from the liberal / progressive / Democratic perspective, the descent had continued from there.
Indeed, especially from the blue tribe perspective, there are very few crazy ideas Rep. Greene hasn't endorsed. Judged by that standard, her latest proposal comes close to having been a bipartisan breath of fresh air.
In our view, her new idea was basically very dumb. That said, it was no frazzledrip. In the tweet in question—on Presidents' Day, no less!—Greene had offered this:
GREENE (2/20/23): We need a national divorce.
We need to separate by red states and blue states and shrink the federal government.
Everyone I talk to says this.
From the sick and disgusting woke culture issues shoved down our throats to the Democrat’s traitorous America Last policies, we are done.
"We need a national divorce," Greene said. Everyone she talks to says this!
As soon became apparent, this may not have been a fully developed idea. A whole lot of blue voters live in the red states, and the opposite is true as well.
Meanwhile, some states are neither red nor blue. Does Greene live in a red state herself? The answer is no longer clear.
What inspired Greene to propose this divorce? Perhaps there's been some reporting on that, but we ourselves have no idea.
Beyond that, no, Virginia! Absent some cataclysmic disaster, we simply aren't going to have this type of national divorce.
In truth, there's no conceivable way to split the country into two nations, red and blue. The very idea was defiantly dumb—but then, consider the proponent.
At any rate, blue tribe pushback quickly emerged concerning this latest idea.
Peter Wehner is in the blue tribe now. Wehner, a good and decent person, pushed back one day later in The Atlantic, dual headlines included:
Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Civil War
The congresswoman is too influential within the GOP—and too representative of its views—for her calls for secession to be dismissed.
It was only a matter of time before Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene—a peddler of far-right conspiracy theories, a speaker at white-nationalist rallies, a supporter of political violence, and an all-around unhinged individual—would renew her call for secession.
Greene is not alone in her views. She is giving voice to a widespread and growing sentiment in the Republican Party. Among Republicans in the South, for example, support for secession was 66 percent in June 2021, according to a Bright Line Watch/YouGov poll. (The poll found support for secession growing among every partisan group in the months following the January 6 riot at the Capitol.)
For today, we'll ignore one part of Wehner's framing, according to which Greene had called for "secession" and "Civil War."
We'll consider such language tomorrow. For today, we'll focus only on the statistic Wehner brandished in his piece, in which a lot of Republicans were said to have said that they favor the very same thing:
"Among Republicans in the South, for example, support for secession was 66 percent in June 2021, according to a Bright Line Watch/YouGov poll."
That was a lot of Republicans in the South! We decided to look at the survey in question—and you can do the same darn thing, simply by clicking here.
Framework selection to the side, Wehner isn't the kind of person who would make things up. For better or worse, the survey in question had posed this question to voters living all across the fruited plain:
“Would you support or oppose [your state] seceding from the United States to join a new union with [list of states in new union]?”
For better or worse, that was one of the (somewhat fanciful) questions this long survey posed. And sure enough! Among Republicans voters in thirteen states across the substantial expanse of the South, 66% of respondents had said that, yes, they would support that rearrangement.
That's a lot of public support for a rather unlikely idea. On the other hand, the desire for some such rearrangement wasn't limited to a bunch of rednecks like them.
Wehner didn't mention this fact, but there was a lot of support for secession among us overwrought Democrats too! For example:
In the five Pacific states, 47% of Democrats had favored secession too!
In fairness, let's be fair. Nationwide, the survey found more support for this new arrangement among Republicans, less support among Dems. Still, a lot of people said they favored flight from the union, as the survey's authors noted:
"Levels of expressed support for secession are arrestingly high, with 37% of respondents overall indicating willingness to secede. Within each region, the dominant partisan group is most supportive of secession."
More than one-third of respondents had favored this new arrangement. In regions where Democrats are the dominant group, more Democrats than Republicans said they favored this (impossible) roll of the dice.
Luckily, those numbers establish a key point. Those numbers mean that the Republicans are worse on this measure than we Democrats are!
To our taste, though, we'll have to say that we would have admired Wehner more if he had established the way many Democrats had responded to this fanciful survey question. In closing, he offered this appraisal:
WEHNER (2/21/23): Civil War–like secession isn’t going to happen in the United States, at least not anytime soon. But all of the emotions that are attached to a desire for secession—seething resentment, existential fear, an unforgiving spirit, contempt and hatred for those who disagree with you—are stoked by the kind of rhetoric employed by Greene and those who see the world as she does. Such language will further destroy America’s political culture and could easily lead to extensive political violence.
Are "seething resentment, contempt and hatred" stoked by Greene's relentlessly dimwitted rhetoric?
We can't say that Wehner's statement is "wrong." But because we don't favor secession or Civil War, we can't say that we would rush to put it that way ourselves.
Rep. Greene had pushed for divorce. Wehner instantly framed that as a call for secession, and the headline on his piece referred to "Civil War."
Over at the New York Times, Maureen Dowd heard it that way too, if not substantially more so. Tomorrow, we'll start to ponder a certain question:
How might this instant framework have seemed to some of the Others? How might this instant framing have seemed to some people in the blue tribe?
Remember, we're asking you, all week long, to make the rarest of all human attempts:
We're asking you to try to look at life From Their Side Now!
Tomorrow: Just like Lester Maddox!