The Daily Beast

GOP Women Are Leaning Into Mudslinging and Total Villainy

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty

We are not the fringe,” Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene said a few days ago. “We are the base of the party.”

She was defending her alliance of rightwing congressional racists—with a tacit emphasis on Lauren Boebert, who in recent weeks has gotten criticism for being just slightly more overtly racist and Islamaphobic than usual—from those who have labeled them an aberration within the GOP conference. And on this issue, Greene, like some real-life manifestation of the Worst Person You Know Just Made a Great Point meme, is right. She and Boebert spew racist talking points and stoke white terror like it’s their jobs, mostly because it is. The GOP “big tent” has a come-one-come-all policy for white racists, white supremacists, and white nationalists from every walk of life. Boebert and Greene are just faithfully representing a voting base that overwhelmingly thinks America’s most pressing problem is that white status-loss leaves white people vulnerable to being treated like Black people.

Just as it’s a mistake to regard Boebert and Greene as outliers in their party, it’s also wrong to overlook the ways in which they carry on a long tradition of white women doing the work of white supremacy. It used to be that white ladies fuelled, defended and maintained white power from the political margins—diligently but quietly, mostly out of the limelight as a consequence of limited political opportunity due to misogynist convention. But powerful white racist politicians like George Wallace, Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, and Ronald Reagan could not have ensured the durability of institutionalized white power without the countless white women who eagerly and continuously helped perpetuate racial discrimination and oppression through whatever grassroots means were available to them. Those “constant gardeners” of white power, as historian Elizabeth McRae has labeled them, “performed myriad duties to uphold white over black: censoring textbooks, denying marriage certificates, deciding on the racial identity of their neighbors, celebrating school choice, canvassing communities for votes, and lobbying elected officials.”

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