When Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) picks a fight with a neighbor who has a transgender daughter, it doesn't necessarily have to do with Greene being a horrible person, although that isn't out of the question, according to conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot, it's all about the Benjamins.
In a recent expose about the GOP fundraising website WinRed, it was revealed that Republican donations accounted for 3 percent of all fraud cases in the entire United States over the course of a month. It was a "checked box" scam that used language to dissuade people from unchecking a box that secretly put them on the hook for monthly and then weekly donations.
It's hardly a surprise, said Boot. In 1992, Republicans had a direct-mail scandal demanding $5 membership to protect Social Security. Letter after letter arrived terrifying elderly retirees on fixed incomes.
Boot quoted National Conservative Political Action Committee's Terry Dolan, who said: "The shriller you are, the better it is to raise money."
"Conservative fundraising appeals, now on the Internet, depend on 'triggering' right-wing voters on incendiary issues such as abortion, gun rights, marriage equality, transgender rights, immigrant 'invasions,' and now 'cancel culture' and 'wokeism,' while warning of imminent doom unless you send in your donation today," Boot wrote. "That creates a financial imperative to wage culture wars to keep the cash registers ringing."
Scaring people is the best way to get them to give money. Most describe the worst-case scenario, judges will or won't overturn whatever law they hold dear. Give money!
While both sides use urgency and fear to inspire donations, conservatives have run out of issues that they can win on. So, they've made them up. Dr. Seuss's trust decided not to publish four books anymore. Somehow Fox News, with the help of far-right Republicans, turned it into Democrats canceling Dr. Seuss and they "need money to stop it." Disney decided to include a disclaimer on old "Muppet Show" videos on their streaming service, and suddenly Fox News and the GOP claimed Democrats killed the muppets, "save them by giving the GOP your cash."
When Greene and other Republicans show up on Fox News to whine about being "censored" while talking to millions of people in their audience, they're fully aware of the irony. At least, most GOP officials are, Greene might not be. Still, they're doing it not to promote legislation or law to change, they're doing it for campaign dollars.
Boot explained that these so-called "culture wars" are sexier than typical Republican issues that don't poll well anymore.
"The ACU, and conservatives generally, had long been focused on a few things — keeping taxes low, keeping regulation in bounds, adequately funding national defense, and, more generally (this was how conservatism was defined in political terms), prudence and skepticism in the face of proposals for sweeping overhauls," former Rep. Mickey Edwards (R-OK), who worked for the ACU in the 80s. "However, what I found in the fundraising letters I was being sent to sign were harangues centered on social issues. Waging the culture war was a more effective way of raising money."
So, when Marjorie Taylor Greene sends out an email warning Americans of the "Jewish Space Laser" coming to set fires in your community, she's not proposing to actually pass a bill to regulate the fictitious laser, she just wants donations. Sending her donors emails begging for money because President Joe Biden is coming to take their guns, scored her over $3 million. She keeps doing it because it works.
Boot closed by saying that if you want to know how the right became the chaotic, conspiracy machine that it is today, "follow the money."
"The right-wing money machine has become the tail wagging the Republican elephant," he said.