During the 1980s, many of the Reagan Republicans who were elected or reelected to Congress were obsessive about policy and could recite chapter and verse about why they were conservative, whether their big issue was taxes, crime or national defense. But that was a very different time. For Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and other far-right MAGA Republicans, politics are mainly about performance art and “owning the liberals” — not policy. And CNN’s Chris Cillizza, this week in his The Point column, stresses that Boebert and like-minded Trump supporters are more interested in “trolling” than they are in governing.
Boebert recently set off a controversy when she described progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota as a member of the “Jihad Squad,” comparing the Muslim congresswoman and Somali immigrant to suicide bombers. And Boebert generated another controversy after that when she tweeted a photo of her four children holding firearms in front of a Christmas tree.
“If you think that Boebert would try to keep a low profile and stay out of the news for a few days amid a possible sanctioning, well then, you just don’t understand the distorted incentive structure of being a Republican in Donald Trump’s party these days,” Cillizza explains. “For the likes of Boebert and (Rep.) Marjorie Taylor Green and (Rep.) Matt Gaetz and plenty of other loyal Trumpists, the trolling — and the controversy they hope and expect it to cause — is the whole point. They have constructed careers and brands — barf — around their ability to, uh, own the liberals. Outrage is their jet fuel.”
According to Cillizza, “The controversy purposely stoked by Boebert will make her even more of a star on the Trump right. She will raise money off of freaking out the liberals, or some similar language, and make this all about her right to own a gun — and how the left wants to take that away — rather than what it’s really about: human decency. As long as that outrage cycle works — and by ‘works,’ I mean helps these Trump Republicans raise campaign cash and get on conservative media outlets — they are just going to keep doing it.”
Cillizza concludes his column by pointing out that while Boebert and her ilk are great at stirring controversy, they fail miserably from a policy standpoint.
“Trolling is not legislating,” Cillizza writes. “And looking for controversy as a means to build your brand isn’t representing your constituents. Maybe at some point, the Boeberts of the world or the people who elect her will realize that.”
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