Newman put a winky face emoji and a transgender flag emoji with her tweet.
The back-and-forth between Newman and Greene is a reminder of an increasingly common strain in the Republican Party in the Trump age: Performative politics as an end in and of itself.
See, Greene isn’t putting that sign up because she thinks it might have some sort of actual effect on the debate over the Equality Act. The bill has support among the Democratic House majority and is likely to pass. Greene knows that. All she is doing is rallying her political base by putting on a performance with zero actual effect on how or whether this bill will become a law or not.
And of course, it worked. Greene’s video had 4.3 million views on Twitter as of Thursday morning, double the number that Newman’s video had gathered. It will further cement her status as a Trumpian cultural warrior, battling the forces of “woke” culture and standing up for traditional values.
That’s exactly right. For Greene, the performance and the controversy is the point. She has zero interest in actually legislating or even trying to build relationships with colleagues with whom she may not agree. Her sole interest is in building her Twitter followers, her small-dollar donor base and her profile on Fox News. That’s success for Greene. That’s how she views the job of representing the people of the 14th district of Georgia.
And she might be the most extreme example but she won’t be the only one. Donald Trump’s presidency (and his post-presidency) tilled the soil for candidates just like Greene to succeed. No longer is going to Washington to do something considered of value to the Republican base. Now the goal is to troll Democrats (and the media) with outlandish — and, in this case, intolerant — behavior. And of course to document and share it as widely as possible, because if a tree falls in the forest and all that.
Greene will view the back-and-forth with Newman as a major success. Her video will continue to accumulate views. More people will know her name. She’ll raise more money off it. Win, win, win for her.
And a loss for anyone who believes that politics is about relationships and actually trying to find common ground to get things done for the American people.