The MAGA caucus are 'bullies' willing to 'shoot the hostage': GOP senior staffer

The MAGA caucus are 'bullies' willing to 'shoot the hostage': GOP senior staffer

Some establishment Republicans, when asked about the far-right extremism of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia or Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, will engage in “whataboutism” — saying, “What about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar?” It’s a weak, totally disingenuous attempt to downplay the radicalization of the GOP; AOC and Omar can be combative debaters, but they haven’t threatened anyone — and they obviously want to have a conversation with those they disagree with, not intimidate them into silence.

Nonetheless, bogus “whataboutist” comparisons of the AOC/Omar/Rashida Tlaib wing of the Democratic Party and the Greene/Gosar/Lauren Boebert wing of the GOP are common among establishment Republicans. But in an op-ed written by the New York Times’ Thomas B. Edsall and published on June 8, a GOP staffer offered a very different — and more honest and accurate — take on the Democratic Party’s left versus the “MAGA Caucus.”

The Republican staffer, described by Edsall as “high-ranking” and interviewed on condition of anonymity, told the journalist, “They are different in that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and The ‘Squad’ seem to me to be more ‘idealist.’ They actually do want to legislate/accomplish the very far-left social ideas they propose. They are willing to cause Pelosi headaches, but they have shown they are not going to go so far as to jeopardize the government (operations) and safety net that so many families depend on from a working government.”

The staffer went on to tell Edsall, “The ‘MAGA Caucus’ members operate more like bullies — legislative bullies. If they have the opportunity, they will gladly hold bills/government funding hostage for the sake of populism and social media. They would take pride in ‘shooting the hostage’ as that would be very popular with their tribal base and their social media.”

The Squad refers to a left/populist alliance of four Bernie Sanders allies, all Democrats, serving in the U.S. House of Representatives: AOC, Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. The name “MAGA Caucus” is typically used to describe Greene, Boebert, Gosar, Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina (who recently lost a GOP primary) and other MAGA extremists in the House.

Referring to The Squad as “far left” is misleading; their idea of “socialism” is the social democracy of Sweden, Norway and Denmark, not communism as it is practiced in Cuba or North Korea. Nonetheless, the GOP staffer generally made a good-faith argument — the type that is usually absent when Republicans appear on Fox News or Fox Business.

“The Squad and the MAGA Caucus are best known for their most visible members, Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia,” Edsall explains. “Both factions have caused major headaches for their respective party leaders.”

Edsall continues, “Centrist Democrats contend — citing poll data from USA Today Ipsos, Pew Research, a FiveThirtyEight polling summary and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Survey — that support from members of The Squad and their allies for defunding the police has undermined the reelection chances of moderate House Democrats running in purple districts. The participation of members of the MAGA Caucus in events linked to White supremacists have increased the vulnerability of the Republican Party to charges of racism, alienating moderate suburban voters.”

Edsall, adds, however, that there are “major dissimilarities” between The Squad’s methods and the Maga Caucus’ methods.

John Lawrence, former chief of staff to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, told Edsall, “The MAGA people seem far more focused on personal celebrity and staking out extremist stances, whereas The Squad — while pushing the policy envelope to some extent — remain reliable party members.”

Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann, authors of the book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism,” also offered Edsall a Squad/MAGA Caucus comparison — and saw enormous differences between the two.

Mann told Edsall, “The MAGA Caucus is anti-democratic, authoritarian and completely divorced from reality and truth. The Squad embraces left views well within the democratic spectrum. What’s striking about the MAGA Caucus is that they are closer to the Republican mainstream these days, given the reticence of Republican officeholders to challenge Trump. We worry about the future of American democracy because the entire Republican Party has gone AWOL. The crazy extremists have taken over one of our two major parties.”

Ornstein told Edsall, “The true believers…. think Trump won, that there is rampant voter fraud, the country needs a caudillo, we have to crack down on trans people, critical race theory is an evil sweeping the country and more. The Squad is certainly on the left end of the party, but they do not have authoritarian tendencies and views.”

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