Buying Kevin McCarthy’s Used Chapstick Is Actually Totally Normal

Marjorie Taylor Greene’s transfer of campaign cash is exactly how the swamp works every day.

Bill Clark/AP

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Amid high-wire negotiations over the nation’s debt ceiling and the increasing likelihood of a US default, House Republicans on Tuesday took a moment to turn their attention to a used chapstick belonging to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. That chapstick—which, according to Politico, was a cherry-flavored souvenir from Florida Congressman Aaron Bean’s campaign—was to be auctioned off to benefit the House Republican electoral committee. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene secured the prize by pledging $100,000 from her own campaign coffers.

“They doing this insane chapstick shit while the country teeters on default,” Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted as confusion abounded. The stunt prompted hygiene concerns, as well as questions from this writer over what could compel someone to debase themselves by voluntarily becoming the new owner of used chapstick. That was all by design, of course. The winning bid—which, perhaps most importantly, also buys Greene a dinner meeting between McCarthy and Greene’s own supporters—came as the latest evidence of the intense bond between these two high-profile Republicans.

But look one step further out from the weirdness, and you’ll see that the stunt as a fairly mundane window into how fundraising in the swamp tends to work: Donors give to politicians, who then bolster their own power and influence by passing that money along to other political candidates. Greene’s standing among Republicans grows; so-called establishment candidates in swing districts happily accept chapstick-stained dollars, despite everything hideous there is to know about the QAnon-supporting congresswoman from Georgia. The wheels of power keep turning.

My colleague Jeremy Schulman, who would like to clarify that he did not edit his own name into this post, said it best: This story is less about the gross chapstick than it is about a lame inside joke involving the most extreme lawmaker in the United States transferring wads of cash to the most spineless. So, totally normal stuff.

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