Republicans scramble to distance themselves from Marjorie Taylor Greene's 'America First' caucus

Graig Graziosi
·5-min read
Congress Greene Twitter (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Congress Greene Twitter (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

US Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene's nativist congressional caucus celebrating the heritage of Americans – but only the white ones – ended before it ever really began.

The "America First Caucus" was the brainchild of Ms Greene, who is perhaps best known for having been stripped of her committee seats for supporting assassination threats against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on social media and for openly flirting with a number of conspiracy theories, including one that alleged the Parkland School Shooting was fake as well as QAnon.

The caucus members were to "follow in President Trump's footsteps, and potentially step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation," according to a policy outline obtained by Punchbowl News.

After Ms Greene announced her intentions to form the caucus and US Rep Matt Gaetz – who is currently embroiled in an alleged child sex trafficking scandal – announced his intention to join, liberals and leftists collectively and expectedly groaned at the developments.

What is unexpected is that it appears other Republicans also balked at the idea, and that may be why Ms Greene ultimately scrapped the idea for the caucus. Ms Greene has claimed the caucus originated with her staff and that she put an end to the scheme when she found out about it.

Shortly after a flier and internal staff draft proposal for the caucus were leaked online, GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy issued a tweet that appeared to reference the America First idea directly.

"The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans - not nativist dog whistles," he wrote.

US Rep. Liz Cheney, the third highest ranking Republican in the House, was more direct with her criticism of the caucus.

"Republicans believe in equal opportunity, freedom, and justice for all. We teach our children the values of tolerance, decency and moral courage," she wrote. "Racism, nativism, and anti-Semitism are evil. History teaches we all have an obligation to confront & reject such malicious hate."

The organisation's proposal hits on a number of topics, such as election fraud conspiracies, states’ rights, complaints about "Big Tech" bias against conservatives, immigration, trade, infrastructure - specifically the aesthetics of new buildings - the coronavirus and the "Chinese Communist Party," among others.

Immigration and trade were the longest and most developed sections of the policy document.

Critics have pointed to the caucus's very open insistence on elevating supposedly "Anglo-Saxon" cultural ideas to the forefront of America's policies as white supremacy in the most literal sense.

The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer penned an editorial about the caucus titled "Anglo-Saxon is what you say when 'whites only' is too inclusive," noting its history as a means for wealthy, established white people in the US to distance themselves from Jewish people and the immigrant whites arriving from places like Poland, Italy, Greece, and Russia.

He argued that despite GOP leaders' attempts to distance themselves from the caucus, it is clear that Republicans who still follow Donald Trump are likely in full support of the ideas behind the caucus, even if they cannot support it publicly.

"Despite McCarthy’s effort to distance the GOP from the America First Caucus document, it’s clear that prominent Trumpist officials and intellectuals, some of them descended from the very immigrant groups Anglo-Saxon was intended to vilify, agree with some of the presumptions of Anglo-Saxonism," Mr Serwer wrote. "The echo of the notion that, as Francis Walker wrote, non-Anglo-Saxons are biologically incapable of “self-care and self-government” can be heard regularly on outlets such as Fox News, where hosts like Tucker Carlson argue that Democrats wish to “replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World.”"

On Tuesday, Ms Greene did a complete reversal , claiming that the media was making up stories about her and that she did not "need another caucus" because she was a "proud" member of the Freedom Caucus, a group of hardline Republicans that coalesced several years ago. She attempted to portray media coverage of the short-lived America First Caucus as an attack on the House Freedom Caucus.

This stands in contrast to a statement disseminated by her office on Friday, which told readers to "be on the look out for the release of the America First Caucus platform when it's announced to the public very soon."

The congresswoman said she had "dealt with the staff" who allegedly wrote the seven-page policy document without her knowledge or consent, and said that while the words in the document were not hers and there was no caucus, she planned to continue pushing Mr Trump's "America First" policies.

Ms Greene's spokesperson, Nick Dyer – who had originally sent the statement advertising the upcoming caucus's platform – told CNN after the fact that the "Congresswoman wants to make clear that she is not launching anything. This was an early planning proposal and nothing was agreed to or approved."

Mr Gaetz apparently thought the process was nearly complete; the scandal-plagued lawmakers issued a tweet on Friday proclaiming his pride in joining the group.

US Reps. Paul Gozar, Louie Gohmert and Barry Moore were also listed as either involved or soon to be involved in the caucus prior to Ms Greene aborting the idea.

In addition to claiming the whole incident was fake news, Ms Greene has also taken aim at one of the journalists who runs Punchbowl News, Jake Sherman.

After Mr Sherman refuted her claims that she never intended to launch the caucus by highlighting that her staff said she was planning to do so on the record, she asked why Mr Sherman does not cover what US Rep. Maxine Waters says.

Ms Waters called for racial justice protesters to "get more confrontational" if former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is acquitted in the murder of George Floyd. Republicans have dutifully performed outrage over the comments, pointing to Ms Waters’ words as a call to incite violence against police officers by protesters.

Mr Sherman pointed out his publication had been covering Ms Waters for days, which Ms Greene ignored. She then accused Ms Waters of trying to start a "race war" – even though she had just allegedly tried to start a caucus built entirely on the idea of mandating Anglo-Saxon artistic and cultural expression in the country – and called Mr Sherman a gossip blogger before refusing to further engage with the argument.

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