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 norm 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’m never been convinced all of these fringe candidates truly believe what they say. (Stoner was probably the exception.)
In past Georgia races for governor, it seems several candidates 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 recent campaigns.
Some political extremists don’t actually run for or hold any office. Ann Coulter and Candace Owens, both right-wing extremists, made a name for themselves, as well as a ton of money, by saying over-the-top things that maybe had a small sliver of truth to them. More often than not, they didn’t even have that.
In Georgia, another political extremist continues to shock pundits, observers and others who think with a level head by being elected twice to U.S. Congress.
Marjorie Taylor Greene is someone who is entertaining to watch on some levels, but in many ways is an outright embarrassment to her state and her district.
MTG is really what I call a “character politician.” She, and others like her, don’t really care about representing anyone. Rather they make a national name for themselves by saying the most outlandish things that pop into their minds.
However, the 14th District is probably the most conservative in the state (which is saying something).
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.
Personally, I’d rather have someone like Mike Collins, who represents the 10th District, in office. Yes, Collins is conservative, but he understands his role in elected office. He’s not there as a publicity hound.
If nothing else, Greene’s victories in her races show that, at times, extremist candidates do win. She has survived competitive primaries against opponents who would certainly be a better representative in Congress. However, the seat she holds is safely hers as long as she wants it.
What would be interesting is to see her run for statewide office. Would her level of support carry her to a statewide position? Probably not. But you can bet the campaign would be entertaining. When a candidate is willing to say anything you can’t help but take notice. In reality, that is the goal of politicians like her anyway.
Chris Bridges is managing editor of The Walton Tribune. He is a 1993 graduate of the University of West Georgia. Email comments to email@example.com or to PO Box 808, Monroe, Ga. 30655.
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