“Congress is in charge of money and everything for the government, and Congress should be in charge of funding special counsels. Those are my red lines,” Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia Republican, told a group of congressional reporters.
Greene’s other top demand is impeaching President Joe Biden. McCarthy has already launched an inquiry. With Trump polling popularly in the GOP, McCarthy and other Republican leaders continue to float along as the party moves rightward.
“It’s polling. They’re willing to absolutely destroy their own integrity [and] have no moral baseline in order to spout cross-tabs from a poll,” says Riggleman, a former member of the Freedom Caucus.
McCarthy’s been trying to negotiate around the impasse using the traditional means of persuasion and promises. He may be negotiating with the wrong people, though, because today’s rank-and-file serve different masters. These days, what was once confined to 4chan has become normalized in the GOP, with some elected officials on the new right seemingly fine with torching the party as the internet has demanded. Social media screens have come to life on Capitol Hill in part because MAGAism is now packaged as a lifestyle.
There are right-wing alternatives to seemingly everything. Patriot Mobile boasts being “America’s only Christian conservative wireless provider.” Tusk Search is an alternative to Google, labeling itself a “free speech web browser with [an] anti-censorship newsfeed.” Public Square directs conservatives to “patriotic businesses” and has become the go-to app for Republicans like Donald Trump Jr., who also launched MxM News, an alternative news aggregator for Republicans, earlier this year. The Right Stuff, a dating app, aims to Make Conservatives Sexy Again. Owning the libs, and the establishment, has morphed into an identity.
Those ventures are all pushed by the stars of today’s new conservative media universe, which includes the likes of anti-politically-correct online spaces, like Truth Social, Rumble, and Parlor. Elon Musk’s makeover of Twitter (now X) into his personal selective-free-speech-absolutist site has made it feel like a safe place for many of those who used to hide in the shadows.
Over the weekend, former Trump strategist Steve Bannon had Colorado congresswoman Lauren Boebert on his show War Room, which now airs live on Newsmax, and thanked his audience for empowering her and other Freedom Caucus members during their time on Capitol Hill.
“You are also part of this fight. You’re just not some passive person listening to talk radio or watching some TV or streaming,” Bannon encouraged his audience. “No, you’re actually part of this, and we know you are because you’re kind of the driving force in this. You’re the protagonist, this audience.”
With a supportive audience outside of Washington, DC, Boebert’s not looking for ways to help her party while she’s there. That was on display when she and other Freedom Caucus members held out their support for McCarthy’s speakership in January, gleefully turning the routine start of a Congress into a 15-round slugfest that ended with them obtaining a myriad of McCarthy promises—from a vote on term limits to releasing the January 6, 2021, Capitol footage publicly. The demands have only expanded since then.