‘Nobody Listened To Me’: The Quest to Be MTG

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Michael Kruse
·35 min read
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ALPHARETTA, Ga.—Marjorie Taylor Greene smacked her gum as she pretended to listen to a man in a dress read a book about a unicorn.

It was late April of 2019. She sat in the rear of a room at the public library here near her home in this suburb north of Atlanta. Greene at the time identified as a mother, a business owner, a fitness trainer, a “supporter of the 2nd amendment,” “a patriot” and a “conservative blogger on social media,” and she had come to mount what she described as an “undercover” protest of something called “Drag Queen Story Hour”—an event she saw as “insane” put on by a person she considered “an abomination.” Using her iPhone to surreptitiously record, Greene flipped back and forth between a shot of the stage and a close-up of her own face, creating a kind of herky-jerky show on Facebook Live.

“Be nice to people around you!” the wig-wearing reader, stage name Miss Terra Cotta Sugarbaker, said in closing to the small gathering of children and their parents. Greene, sporting a pink cast on her left foot, hobbled outside. “Were you able to hear all that?” Greene asked the 400 or so viewers following along.

Lingering on the library sidewalk, Greene quarreled with the branch manager, feuded with a woman who asked her to stop her video and vented to passersby, a local police officer and her fledgling army of self-appointed digital soldiers.

“I called and emailed our county commissioner, I called and emailed this library, and I’m a taxpayer here in the city,” she lamented to her on-screen audience. “And my voice did not matter.”

“No one heard my voice,” she complained to the cop.

“I’m an Alpharetta resident, and I didn’t want this ‘Drag Queen Story Hour,’” she continued. “And nobody listened to me.”

Everybody, like it or not, is listening now.

Today, not even two full years later and not even two full months into her first term in the United States House, the 46-year-old Republican is not only northwest Georgia’s lightning rod of a representative but already one of the best-known members of Congress. She’s famous, or notorious, depending on one’s political preferences, for her history of anti-Muslim and anti-transgender statements, her appetite for QAnon and other conspiracy theories, her unapologetically confrontational tactics, her coarse and offensive rhetoric, her lockstep support for Donald Trump, and most recently her unusual censure by her new colleagues. Her rage has become a political commodity, filling her coffers, and those of her enemies, too.

This rocket-ship rise to a level of renown that once took ambitious pols decades to achieve was partly the result of early endorsements from leaders of the GOP’s House Freedom Caucus and other ardent Trump backers. Her capacity to boost her campaign with nearly a million dollars of her own helped swamp her opponents in a district in which she didn’t even live. Those factors help explain how she won—they don’t, though, explain why she chose to run in the first place.

Greene’s antics at the Alpharetta library, according to public records, internet archives and more than 50 interviews, amounted to an inflection point in a life story that suggests her seat in Congress is less the fulfillment of a dream than the culmination of a desperate, yearslong search for an identity that fulfilled a yearning for affirmation and attention. After a decade marked by troubles at work and at home, adultery, palpable discontentedness and a consuming zeal for intense exercise and faddish nutrition, her roving craving for an audience found its ultimate outlet in right-wing online commentary and finally real-world, face-to-face provocation. Over the course of the past 10 years, she morphed from an affluent, all but apolitical, middle-aged attendee of an evangelical megachurch to an aspiring, publicity-seeking CrossFit persona to a right-out-of-the-gate hectoring lawmaker who now literally wears her grievance on the mask on her face.

Beyond the sometimes-seamy specifics, the origin tale of “MTG”—her increasingly tip-of-the-tongue, brand-name tag—isn’t just trivial or tabloid. On the contrary, it matters a great deal politically, explaining her electoral viability and her particular salience in the hothouse of the moment. She’s been called “Trump in heels,” and the analogy is apt: What Trump did in 2015 and ’16 to get to the White House provided a visceral template for what Greene did in ’19 and ’20 to get to Capitol Hill, as if his needy, spotlight-greedy ascent activated in her some smoldering set of latent genes.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., speaks as President Donald Trump listens at a campaign rally in support of Senate candidates Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., and David Perdue in Dalton, Ga., Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., speaks as President Donald Trump listens at a campaign rally in support of Senate candidates Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., and David Perdue in Dalton, Ga., Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.

In some respects, she’s supercharged: Trump, after all, had half a century of built-up fame to propel his improbable run; Greene, on the other hand, armed with anger, opinions and time, spun her policy-light bid out of little more than a deep need to be seen and heard, showing that Trump-style national political figures can be minted with an almost industrial speed. Greene, like Trump, willed herself into the role of a star in 21st-century American politics’ nonstop, social-media-shared, pick-a-side, ill-tempered spectacle. Greene declined to comment for this article, but Nick Dyer, her communications director, responded in a terse email: “You are a scumbag, Michael.”

“You can’t look away,” said Brian Robinson, an Atlanta-based Republican consultant who worked on the leading primary campaign against Greene. “She’s got presence, and there’s something that draws you to her. You never, never get bored—it’s always something interesting, and you might think it’s absolutely bonkers, but …”

“The logical outcome of someone like Trump,” said Ian Russell, the former national political director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, “leads to someone like Marjorie Taylor Greene.”

“Marjorie,” said Jamie Parrish, a donor and friend, “I don’t feel like she’s a conspiracy theorist—I think she was more of a clickbait junkie.” Parrish called her “a really awesome patriot” and “definitely social media savvy.”

At the library, out in the springtime sun, Greene swung her still-recording phone toward a woman walking to her car wearing a hijab. “See that?” she narrated for her audience. “Our library is full of that.”

She commiserated with a like-minded activist. “I’ve got a lot of friends,” she said, reciting excitedly the number of chattering eggers-on on Facebook watching her broadcast. “… 435 friends.”

And she wrapped toward the end with an almost breathless screed: “I am pissed. OK! So! People! Listen to me! Share this video. Share this video. On this video, in the beginning, I videoed the man, the abomination that he is, dressed up like a woman reading storybooks to children in my public library our tax dollars pay for, and then I go outside—I’m hopping around on a cast, by the way—I go outside, I’m standing outside, waiting for my friends, you know, talking to you guys on this video, and then the militant, giant woman that’s bigger than my husband, bigger than most men, practically attacks me, comes to me aggressively and accuses me of filming her children and her children are receiving death threats, and that’s a lie, that’s a lie, and she doesn’t even live in the city, and she’s a lesbian, she had her, whatever, her wife, her partner, whatever, I don’t care what consenting adults do with their sexual time on their own hands, what I do have a problem with is their agenda, pushing these gender lies and all of this sexual perversion on our children, and it’s not going to happen in our schools, and it’s not going to happen in our libraries, and it has to stop, and I …”

At that moment she was already thinking about running in the 7th Congressional District. A month later, she would start running in the 6th. Before long, of course, she would move to the 14th. It didn’t matter where. MTG was ready to run.

This month, when she spoke on the House floor in the midst of having legislators, including 11 of her fellow Republicans, strip her of her committee assignments, Greene attempted to (re-)introduce herself. Wearing a “FREE SPEECH” mask, she said she was “a very successful business owner,” “a very hard worker” and “a very proud wife.” She said she “always paid my taxes.”

“I’m a very regular American,” she said.

Greene grew up in a very white world. Marge, as she was known as a girl, was born in 1974 in the one-time state capital of Milledgeville and raised in suburban Decatur before her family moved some 40 miles north to Forsyth County—one of the most notoriously racist counties in the country. “White power!” local children chanted at civil rights marchers in 1987. Busily exurban now but squarely rural then, it had in 1990 a population of approximately 44,000 people—14 of them Black. There are no Black faces in Greene’s 1992 class in her yearbook at South Forsyth High. She was, per the lists printed in the local newspaper at the time, an A-and-B honor roll student. She was in Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Students Against Drunk Driving. She was the manager of the soccer team. She was not involved in student government.

She went to the University of Georgia in Athens and got married the summer before she graduated with a business degree. She was the first person in her family to graduate from college. She moved back to the suburbs of Atlanta—site of the headquarters of the construction company that had been started by her father.

Robert D. Taylor, a Michigan native, started his construction company in either 1969 (according to the company’s now-down website) or 1973 (his now-down personal site). It “quickly,” stated the former, became “the largest provider of siding solutions to single-family and multi-family housing communities in the Atlanta area.” The company became a key piece of his daughter’s campaign pitch: “In 2002,” she said in one interview in late 2019, “I bought my father’s construction company, and ever since then my husband and I have owned and operated the company together.” The archives of the company’s site say something else: “In 2006, he acquired full ownership of the company”—referring to Perry Greene, with no mention of Marjorie Greene, who’s also not noted as a member of the management team or visible in any capacity in cached company newsletters.

That same year, her father’s second book came out. Paradigm is a 600-plus-page brick of a novel he wrote as a means, he explained, to publish a “revolutionary” “discovery” he called “The Taylor Effect”—that the ups and downs of the stock market could be predicted based on “gravitational fluctuations.” He had available for purchase subscriptions to software he dubbed Xyber9. He said his theory had earned him a nomination in 2000 for a Nobel Prize in economics. (A Nobel spokesman told me in an email “information about nominations is not to be disclosed, publicly or privately, for a period of 50 years.”) Reviews on Amazon were mixed but generally veered toward befuddlement: “a plot entirely dependent on the unbelievably persistent wrong choices of the dumbest smart people you could invent,” “has every type of conspiracy theory included,” “causes one to lose track of what is fiction and what is real.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., walks back to her office after speaking on the floor of the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., walks back to her office after speaking on the floor of the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021.

His daughter, in any event, was listed on the construction company’s filings with Georgia’s secretary of state as its chief financial officer in 2007, and again in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

She turned 36 in 2010. She was a decade and a half into her marriage. She had three kids, two girls, then a son, who that year turned 13, 11 and 7. They lived in tony Milton, adjacent to Alpharetta, on a corner lot, atop a gently sloping hill, in a house her father had bought for $750,000 in December 2004 (and then sold a few weeks later for the same price to his son-in-law). It was just shy of 10,000 square feet and had five bedrooms and a gym and a movie theater and an indoor saltwater pool.

In 2010, too, though, the state of Georgia and Fulton County slapped the Taylor construction company with two tax liens. (They’re not Greene’s only tax-related transgressions in public records. In 2008, ’09, ’10, ’12 and ’13, she and her husband were late paying the property taxes on their house.) The liens were released in January 2011. But the company’s next filing showed a change. Marjorie Greene was no longer listed as its CFO.

It was time for something new.


She tried religion. “Adults,” said her new church, “often need a new starting point.” In 2011, Marjorie Greene stepped into a spotlight.

“Hello,” she said, “my name is …”

In front of a big, clapping crowd inside a megachurch a pastor once called “the Christian Gap,” Greene shrugged off what she intimated had been stage fright and was baptized, getting dunked in a glassed-in tub by a pastor but not before expressing her affinity for a book about martyrs. “In the martyrs book,” she said, “it showed people’s conviction and how they died for Christ, and I realized how small my faith was if I was scared to do a video and get baptized in front of thousands of people.” Instead, she said, she now saw this as her “greatest opportunity.” She called “Jesus Christ … my lord and savior.” She called her husband “the love of my life.”

The next year, she cheated on him. According to court records, they were separated by March.

Stating in her complaint that her marriage was “irretrievably broken,” she filed for divorce in July. To lessen a noticeable overbite, she got braces in August. Abruptly reversing course, she agreed to an attempt to reconcile with her husband in September.

The fulcrum of this evident frenzy was CrossFit. Jim Chambers told me he met Greene that year when he bought a gym, or “box,” in the industry lingo, at which she was trying to be a trainer, a part-time part of the staff. Greene, it was immediately clear to Chambers, and to anybody else who cared to notice, he told me, was engaged in extramarital activity with one trainer and then another. (Last year, the New Yorker reported that she had these affairs. This month, the Daily Mail named the two men.)

“It wasn’t being hid,” Chambers told me.

“I saw her stick her tongue down the throats” of the men, he tapped into a post on social media after Greene started running for office—screenshots of which began to ping from phone to phone of interested GOP operatives.

Chambers, he said, went on a double date with Greene and the second of the two men—having dinner at a restaurant the name of which he couldn’t recall but that he described as “a sort of ultra-bourgeois version of a Chili’s” for “people making, you know, $312,000 a year.”

He came to see Greene, Chambers told me, as a church-preachy hypocrite, a self-styled “mover and shaker,” a “bullshit artist” and a needy networker. But he thought he understood. “I can speak from personal experience,” said Chambers, the grandson of a billionaire, “that this sort of material class prominence doesn’t yield a lot of personal satisfaction in life, you know? So I think the most common path is that people continue to find ways to kind of cultivate their own self-importance and distract themselves from the sort of meaninglessness of their existence.” Greene, in the estimation of Chambers, was searching for “community”—for “purpose.”

And in 2013, she went to new lengths to recast herself, emerging as a more front-facing figure here—immersing herself within the Alpharetta area’s burgeoning CrossFit cliques, hiring a high-priced trainer to direct her workouts and opening that spring her own “box.”

She got her braces off on May 14. She formed CrossFit Passion on May 15.

“I am excited,” she said, “to start this journey.”


She was not, said people around her at the time, a politics person. She wasn’t even a businessperson. She said so herself.

“Travis and I, we’re, like, experts in coaching and programming. We can train you unbelievably well, but the business part, we weren’t good at,” she said in a local radio interview, referring to her partner—and offering a curious admission for somebody who would run for office by touting her cred as an owner of a business. For advice, Greene said, she looked to her husband and her father.

What she was, she said, was a CrossFit person. A friend had introduced her to it a few years before. “She said, ‘Do you want to try out this crazy, underground cult fitness thing called CrossFit?’” Greene said. “And I was, like, ‘Um, OK.’” It once was a hobby. Now it was something more. “I got,” she said, “kind of hooked.”

In 2013, ’14 and ’15, when she wasn’t traveling to softball tournaments with her younger daughter’s pre-collegiate competitive team, spending Christmases in Hawaii, vacationing in Florida, selling her condo in Panama City Beach (at a nine-year loss of $165,000) or moving into a renovated farmhouse in a hillier, more wooded, more secluded portion of Milton, Greene was at the gym.

“She had means,” said a person Greene trained with who called her “nice,” “supportive” and “positive” but requested anonymity because “I don’t want to get phone calls from, like, the Proud Boys and shit like that.”

“She’d train all fucking day,” this person told me. “That was what she did. She lived in the gym and could work out as much as she wanted to, whenever she wanted to, didn’t have to think twice about it. Most people gotta go to work.”

At 5-foot-3 and 138 pounds, give or take, depending on where she was with her workouts and her fish oil, her creatine and her carb and calorie counts, Greene kept an assiduous WordPress blog in which she enumerated her split jerks and her box jumps and her rope climbs. She cursed her ring dips and her wall balls and her handstands. She lamented her tight hips and her sore glutes and “my little t-Rex arms.” She RockTaped tears of the skin on her hands. She was on a team—“Not Young but Swold”—that finished second in an event for competitors her age. In 2014, the year she turned 40, she ranked in her classification 72nd in the world. In 2015, she ranked 62nd. She posted video after video of herself doing CrossFit.

But by far the most telling part of her obsessive account was the conversation she seemed to be having over time with herself.

“… I’m horrible by myself …”

“… Confidence is also an area that I struggle in. But I’ve decided to say ‘why not me?’ …”

“… The negative thoughts just kept coming … I wish there was a switch to turn off those thoughts …”

Marjorie Greene was looking at 41. She began on her blog to express a sense of stasis. Of frustration. Of backsliding. In CrossFit, Chambers told me, “there’s a certain point when you realize, like, ‘Oh, OK, I’ve peaked in this.’” And in April and into the middle of May of 2015 Greene felt like she was losing her fitness. “I am just wiped out,” she said on her blog. And then she stopped. She didn’t stop doing CrossFit, but she stopped blogging—no announcement, no farewell, just stopped posting.

But over on Facebook there was a shift.

The pages she had followed up until that point mainly were fitness- and nutritioncentric—from All Things CrossFit to CrossFit Unstoppable to JumpNrope to Primal Palate and Paleo Pot. Now, though, new interests popped up. Scrolling through, it’s not possible to pinpoint the dates, but the sequence charts a change. She liked Herman Cain. She liked Allen West. She liked Ben Carson. She liked Donald Trump. She liked Tomi Lahren and Michelle Malkin and Dinesh D’Souza and Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. She liked Donald Trump Jr. She liked Mark Levin and Tucker Carlson and Michael Savage. She liked Mike Pence. She liked Donald Trump for President. She liked Donald Trump Is My President.

At which point, Marjorie Greene on her personal Facebook created a professional page. Now she was a politics person.

Marjorie Taylor Greene: “Public figure.”

She liked herself.


She’s made it sound like an unmuzzling—“like,” she would say, “ripping the duct tape off my mouth.” She reinforced this sentiment in what she said on the floor this month. “I wasn’t a political person until I found a candidate that I really liked, and his name is Donald J. Trump,” she said. “To me, he was someone I could relate to.”

But Greene’s political activation wasn’t instantaneous. She didn’t vote for Trump in the primaries in 2016—she didn’t vote period—and she didn’t in that cycle give him, or anybody else, any money. And she didn’t pursue any of the traditional paths to get politically involved. She didn’t go to brunches or luncheons of Republican clubs. She didn’t cut checks so she could show up at a fancy-house meet-and-greet.

What she did was start in 2017 to create a new identity—as an anti-media, anti-Muslim, anti-trans, pro-gun, pro-wall, pro-Trump provocateur, columnist and conspiracist. She started that summer on (now defunct) AmericanTruthSeekers.com with 10 posts with a pen name—Elizabeth Camp. (One of her very early pieces: “Dear Spineless Elected Republicans, You’re On Notice! Get On The Trump Train Or Get Out of Office!!” She linked to it in a tweet—and directed it toward Trump.) All of a month in, though, she was using her real name.

QAnon, experts Travis View and Mike Rothschild told me, over the past three-plus years has appealed to an array of adherents. Although typically more middle class, older and white, the demographics range. But a couple of across-the-board commonalities? “In order to get into it,” View said, “it really helps if you have an extraordinary amount of free time.” It’s also nobody’s starter kit. “QAnon,” said Rothschild,” is almost never somebody’s first conspiracy theory.” It certainly wasn’t for Greene.

While Q has become a sort of shorthand to refer to Greene as a lawmaker—“the QAnon Congresswoman”—the label doesn’t convey just how thoroughly her worldview was already undergirded by a conspiracy-theory slurry. Or the way in which it helped her build her name and her base. In 2017, especially the second half of the year, Greene began to extend her presence and audience on her Facebook and her Twitter and on a (no longer operating) website called Whiskey Patriots and on American Truth Seekers—trafficking in can’t-miss culture-war cracks, kook-right shibboleths and paranoiac go-tos. Mass shootings as false flags. Kneeling NFL players. The neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville? “Inside Job!” “Protesters Were Paid?!?” Democrats: “Involved With Child Sex, Satanism, and The Occult.” The Clinton “Kill List.” “Hillary. Can she just go away? Can she just go to jail?” Greene wrote. “… why can’t Hillary just SHUT IT UP???”

On September 25, 2017, introduced as an “American Truth Seekers correspondent,” she appeared in a conversation on Facebook (that was taken down just the other day) with an interviewer calling himself “the Conservative Papi.”

“I don’t think Trump is inflammatory culturally. I’d say Barack Obama was a lot more inflammatory culturally,” Greene said. “The thing about Donald Trump, our president, is he’s different from all the other presidents, and that’s the whole reason why the majority of Americans voted for him—and it was a majority,” she added—falsely. “No more white guilt,” a listener posted. “Amen,” said another. Greene clicked “like.”

All of which is to say that by October 28, 2017, the date of the first so-called “Q Drop” on 4chan—“Hillary Clinton will be arrested …”—Greene was primed.

“Have you guys been following 4chan? Q?” she said in a Facebook Live less than a month in. “Q is a patriot,” she said. “It’s not just someone poking in the dark,” she said. “I really, truly pray this is true,” she said. “This really may be happening,” she said. “The level of importance is good versus evil,” she said. “More and more people are starting to talk,” she said. “I spend a lot of time looking up this information,” she said.

“This,” she wrote a couple months after that, “is a once in a lifetime opportunity [sic] take out this Global Cabal of Satan worshiping pedophiles.”

Reams have been written about Greene’s initial year and a half of ramped-up internet activity—my POLITICO colleagues Ally Mutnick and Melanie Zanona published a comprehensive and damning report last June—but sources close to Greene and in Georgia Democratic and Republican circles this month shared with me screenshots from 2018. It’s Greene material I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere else.

“I’ve been following Q since mid-November,” Greene said that June in a tweet to Laura Loomer, the anti-Islam zealot and subsequent congressional candidate. “Go to Qanon.pub and Qproofs.com also there is even an app called Q Drops,” she said. “The Q following is all Patriots, it’s huge and growing. DM me and I will walk you through the whole thing.”

Greene, too, provided feverish Q analysis on her Facebook page, using acronyms for Kim Jong Un, North Korea and Barack Obama: “Q post today revealed a massive BOOM,” she wrote that month. “Do you remember how I told you yesterday on my video that the letter KJU delivered to Trump a week ago revealed intel on Obama and the Iran deal. NK was an ally with Iran, KJU knows everything Obama did! Let me fill you in on more. What if I told you that Obama (BO) has been to NK before? His admin did little to nothing to slow nuclear and missile development in NK. Why?? … Obama called KJU before the summit to try to talk KJU out of the peace deal because he knows that KJU will be revealing all of Obama’s dirty deeds on Iran and NK!!!! Do you all realize the magnitude of this???!!! What if Hillary had won??? She was supposed to finish off the plan. We would have ended up in WW3!!! But we elected Trump!!! MAGA!!! This is going to be the best summer ever!!! The midterms are going to be painted red …”

“Most Q people I know are very accomplished professionals,” she tweeted in August. “It’s not a movement for dummies.”

She wasn’t just a Q conspiracist. That summer, she posted this, too, on her Facebook page: “President Trump meets with Putin, July 16, 2018, the same day that John F Kennedy Jr was killed, July 16, 1999. Irony??? Message sent perhaps??? Kennedy Jr was going to run for the same senate seat Hillary wanted. He would have beat her out and won it easily. The White House would have been next for him, but that was against her plans because she was supposed to become president one day. Plus Kennedy Jr. would have continued the plans of his father JKF [sic], which is why he was assassinated. Now we have Trump who was a very good friend of John F Kennedy Jr. Hillary Clinton should be shaking in her boots …”

She put up a short-lived Facebook page called “Politi-Drama with Marjorie Taylor Greene.”

“I think she just wants to be famous,” a relative of hers told me. “I think it’s more attention than anything.”

And the attention she was generating gave her an idea for an audacious next step.

“We don’t need politicians! We need loyal Americans!” she typed in a little-noted tweet the first week of January 2019. She punctuated the floated notion with American-flag and thumbs-up emojis. Greene was, she said, “considering running.”


Marjorie Taylor Greene essentially started gunning for Congress by writing about wanting to impeach Nancy Pelosi.

She had logged a petition on January 18, 2019, on whitehouse.gov—“Nancy Pelosi is a TRAITOR to the American People!”—and now, eight days later, she took to LawEnforcementToday.com. “Nancy Pelosi needs to be arrested for treason!” she said. “Nancy Pelosi is a criminal …”

Her bio at the bottom was a new declaration of identity, with a more expressly political tint: “Marjorie Taylor Greene,” it said, “is a proud Whiskey Patriot, entrepreneur, business owner, writer, commentator, speaker, defender of the Second Amendment, shooting enthusiast, CrossFit athlete, wife, and mother redeemed through grace. She states: ‘Our life is a sum total of our decisions. Every day I have the gift to choose to make it an amazing life.’”

“A Southern mom with something to say,” said Kyle Reyes, the national spokesman for Law Enforcement Today. Greene had been writing as a periodic and unpaid contributor to the site for roughly a year. This, though, was the first time Reyes really took note of her name. The Pelosi piece, he said, hit like gangbusters.

“We had so much engagement on that piece from so many people who were emailing us after and saying, ‘She said what I wanted to say and can’t,’” Reyes told me. “It was tapping into a feeling and emotion that people had who were filled with anger, frustration, resentment.”

Greene started sharing the piece more and more on Twitter. “I don’t even remember her having much of an online presence when she first submitted something,” Reyes added. “She definitely grew one, no doubt about that—but if you think about it, listen, love him or hate him, it’s sort of the Trump effect, right? A guy who everybody laughed at, this jackass is never going to have a shot, you know, he’s not serious about running for office—and then he didn’t run a political campaign. The guy ran a marketing campaign. And it was a genius marketing campaign. And he did it utilizing social media.”

Emboldened online, Greene, too, now switched to a drastic increase in activity—actually out and about, an avatar come to life, practicing what she would begin to talk about as “confrontational politics.”

In February 2019, in addition to donating $50 to Trump’s Make America Great Again Committee and $37.50 to his campaign, she went to Washington, where she recorded (now taken down) Facebook Live videos from inside the Capitol. She promoted her Pelosi impeachment push, saying the speaker could be executed for her policies “serving illegals and not United States citizens.” She said fellow California Rep. Maxine Waters was “just as guilty of treason” for “inciting violence against MAGA patriots.” And she went to the office of Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who is Muslim, and confronted her and her staff, accusing her and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan of supporting Sharia, or Islamic law. She said they were illegitimate because they took their oaths of office on the Quran and not the Bible. “They really should go back to the Middle East,” she said. The “hate-mongering stunts,” as the Southern Poverty Law Center put it, made her viewership spike as well as searches on Google for her name.

In March, back in D.C. to protest a Senate hearing about “red flag” gun laws, she chased down David Hogg on a sidewalk on the Hill. “Coward,” she called the Parkland shooting survivor and gun control activist. “How’d you get over 30 appointments with senators?” she hollered at him. “How did you get major press coverage on this issue?” She said into her phone to her audience that “he had media coverage all over the place” and she “had zero.” She made the shape of a zero with her hand. (“Despicable,” Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was murdered in the shooting, told me when I called him to ask about Greene and this interaction.)

“I was live filming on my Facebook page,” she wrote of her efforts to get to talk to senators about gun control, “only to be told that they don’t allow live filming in the office. I replied every time, ‘Well as a taxpayer and owner of this building and since I pay your salary, I DO ALLOW live filming here.’”

“Every time I do this, I’m very nice. I’m not at all angry. I don’t yell. No. You want to be very professional. You don’t want to cuss. You wanna talk in a very educated manner,” Greene said in April in a Facebook conversation about (among other things) “confrontational politics” with Patrick Parsons, the executive director of the group called Georgia Gun Owners (who’s now her chief of staff). Parsons introduced her to his audience as “a grassroots activist” who “has a pretty good following on social media.” Greene told Parsons she considered women who support gun control “my enemies.” She said they “should just move out of our country.”

Later in April, two weeks after surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles, Greene flew from Atlanta to El Paso to meet up with right-wing activist Anthony Aguero. She chronicled the trip for Law Enforcement Today. “The media doesn’t want you to see it. The politicians don’t want to face it. But I wanted to see it for myself. So I went to the border,” she wrote. “Where’s the outrage?” She joined a college student on his little-watched YouTube page. “Not having a wall increases Democrat votes,” she said. “I think I can sum myself up as an American woman, and an American woman is really the most amazing thing a woman can be,” she added. “And I feel like I’m fully living that role.”

Days later, she was at the library in Alpharetta. “I’m filming myself, and I have all the permission I want,” she said when the woman asked her to turn off her phone and also for her name.

“My name’s Marjorie Taylor Greene.”

Construction executive Marjorie Taylor Greene, third from left, claps with her supporters at a watch party event, late Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in Rome, Ga.
Construction executive Marjorie Taylor Greene, third from left, claps with her supporters at a watch party event, late Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in Rome, Ga.

Hardly anybody in politics in Georgia had ever heard of her.

“Never,” said Chip Lake, a Republican consultant in Atlanta. “I didn’t know who she was,” said Austin Chambers, president of the Republican State Leadership Committee. “She was just another person,” said Marolyn Overton, the founder of the Savannah Tea Party. She was not so much as a dues-paying member of her local Republican Party, according to an officer with the Fulton County GOP. She had attended not a single event. But her electoral ambition was as vast as it was scattershot. Her waiting website, marjorietaylorgreene.com, said on April 22, 2019, that she was ready to run—not where she lived in the 6th district but in the 7th, still the suburbs of Atlanta but to the east of the 6th, stretching up to Forsyth County where she had graduated from high school and where her father still lived.

“Marjorie is a voice for the people—the silent majority in America—who are too afraid to share their conservative American values. These are Georgia values,” said the site. “Marjorie has been actively involved in grassroots citizen lobbying efforts to push back on radical agendas that undermine our nation’s laws. Marjorie successfully gained over 182,000 signatures in only 30 days on a White House Petition to Impeach Nancy Pelosi for crimes of Treason for Sanctuary policies. … Marjorie is a contributing writer for Law Enforcement Today. … Stand with your friend Marjorie Taylor Greene and defend Georgia by electing her to the 7th District Georgia Seat in the United States House of Representatives!”

On May 8, Greene loaned her own campaign $100,000. On May 21, she showed up, as secretary, and for the first time in almost a decade, on a filing of the family construction company. On May 29, she registered with the Federal Election Commission her official statement of candidacy. And on May 30, the FBI in a bulletin labeled as a domestic terror threat QAnon and other conspiracy theories, Greene loaned her campaign $400,000 more, and she announced her candidacy to her (then) 56,000 followers on Facebook.

I recently asked one of her best friends why she so badly wanted to run.

“We had two years where we had the House and the Senate and we couldn’t get everything done that we should have gotten done,” said Pamela Reardon, referring to the full slate of GOP control in D.C. starting in 2017. “Then when we lost in 2018, she just got, like, ‘This is it. I’m gonna save this country.’”


It’s hard to drive around her district and not see the signs.

I saw one in Dalton. I saw two in Rome. “REP. GREENE: RESIGN,” the billboards say.

People in northwest Georgia hate her, judging from story after story after story after story that have come out of Georgia’s 14th over the past couple of months—except the ones who love her and who voted her into office by a wide margin and have rallied around her as she’s been castigated up in D.C. and pilloried in newspapers and on TV. Which of course is the point. Within this perpetual state of strife is the reason she won—and the reason she could win again. Trump himself has called her “a future Republican star.”

Marjorie Taylor Greene is in Congress not just because she left her recently turned-blue Atlanta-area district in a changing Georgia and moved to a $610,000 house her husband bought in the less diverse, less educated, less well-to-do and overwhelmingly Republican, Trump-flag-flying corner of the state that runs over to the Alabama border and up to the Tennessee line. She isn’t in Congress just because she got the most votes in the primary last June and again in the runoff in August and ultimately was unopposed in the general election in November. Or because she could afford to bankroll her bid the way she did. Or because of the backing of the Freedom Caucus sorts and their allies. Or even because she had a memorable message that she delivered with discipline—guns, God, Trump, “Save America, Stop Socialism!”—and campaigned on the ground with what even her detractors grant was a go-everywhere verve in a tan Humvee.

She’s in Congress more so because she wasn’t seen as a carpetbagger—as a wealthy opportunist from the big city—any more than Trump was when he rode the escalator down from the top of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. How and where she lived on the internet mattered more than how and where she lived in reality.

And she’s in Congress because of the grievance she’s felt and the attention she’s sought—the two pillars of what Trump turned into pure political fuel.

Greene stands as more than an acolyte of Trump. She’s not a malleable and seasoned politician who had to dance and twist to adjust to the punitive rules of such a newfangled leader. She’s a next-gen version of Trump—produced in his image in a fraction of the time. Other Hill freshmen, too, have emerged out of almost nowhere by parroting the playbook—Lauren Boebert and Madison Cawthorn, to name two. Both are on this weekend’s CPAC speakers’ list while Greene is not. But Greene’s tenure nevertheless will provide a singular test of the durability of this brand of pol.

“We don’t know how long this will last,” said Brian Robinson, the Republican consultant. What’s clear, though: “We are in this time of great division, and the old model of people who get up there and get things done and work collaboratively with people isn’t what’s winning, and she embodies sort of an extreme example of that.”

“She is an exaggerated version of the toxicity of American politics today,” Andra Gillespie, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta, told me.

Not long ago, when I met at a coffee shop in Rome’s downtown business hub with Greene’s closest competitor in last year’s primary, John Cowan remained somewhat baffled by her electoral success and the attention she’s engendered.

The 45-year-old former college football player and husband and father of four and very conservative but mild-mannered doctor wondered if he was naïve.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in support of Senate candidates Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., and David Perdue in Dalton, Ga., Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in support of Senate candidates Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., and David Perdue in Dalton, Ga., Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.

“The fact,” Cowan told me, “that she didn’t live in our district and she was a loudmouth and obnoxious …”

He had thought, he said, the people in this part of this state would look at him and look at her and “say, you know, ‘Nah, let’s go with the farm-boy neurosurgeon.” He said it was to him “eye-opening” that they had not.

“It was just sort of, like … ‘No. We want this lady.’”