As long as our country has had elections there have been fringe, extremist candidates on both sides of the spectrum.
It doesn’t really matter the issue or how far outside the mainstream it is, if there is a cause or movement outside of the mainstream then it has likely been represented at one time or another.
For example, there has always been a Communist Party based in this country. I’m not talking about someone being accused of communism like they were decades ago during the Red Scare, but an actual party with candidates.
As recently as 1990 an avowed white supremacist, JB Stoner, ran for statewide office in Georgia. During the 1990 Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, Stoner actually finished sixth among a nine-candidate field.
Perhaps the most stunning accomplishment for Stoner that year was that he earned more votes than the lone African American candidate in the race. Stoner was a disbarred lawyer convicted of bombing an African American church, which led to a stay in prison.
I’ve never been convinced all of these fringe candidates truly believe what they say. (Stoner was probably the exception.)
In the 2018 Republican candidate for governor, it seemed several candidates, including the eventual winner, played heavily on stereotypes to win votes. The reason is simple: These candidates, who are actually very smart, realize it doesn’t take much to sway voters. Truth be known, they probably laugh in private at voters.
All it takes is saying the right thing to connect with someone. Talk about guns, trucks, shooting a young man who wants to date your daughter or having a school bus made up like a prison transport vehicle for “illegal” aliens — tactics which were all front and center in the 2018 campaign.
In recent days another political extremist shocked pundits, observers and others who think with a level head by winning a competitive primary. Marjorie Taylor Greene won the GOP runoff, and in all likelihood has already obtained her ticket to a seat in Congress.
The 14th District is probably the most conservative in the state (which is saying something) and Greene ran a perfect campaign. Her continuous slamming of national Democrats and her belief in some outright bizarre conspiracy theories saw her defeat an opponent who clearly would have been a better representative in elected office.
Many of the things Greene talks about doing will never happen simply because, well, she is all talk. Even various national Republican officials have denounced her. She chalks that up to the overall conspiracy against her and the odd movement she admittedly believes in.
If nothing else, Greene’s victory shows that at times extremist candidates do win. While she faces a Democratic challenger in the general election the outcome will likely be 75%-25% in her favor due to the makeup of the district.
Voters in the 14th District were no doubt using the “We’ll show them!” mentality in their selection of Greene as the Republican nominee. What the voters will learn quickly, however, is Greene is going to be an ineffective representative of the district simply because most people, Republicans and Democrats alike, find her more than just a little crazy.
When you vote for extremists, however, you have made your bed and now there is nothing left to do but to lie in it. Move over voters of the 14th District: Greene is now on the other side of the bed. Good night.