CPAC’s a Joke, but It’s a Useful Window Into the Deep MAGA Fringe

“Welcome to the end of democracy.” In other words, welcome to the modern conservative movement.Yes, these words were actually uttered on stage Wednesday at the 2src24 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) by right-wing conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec. And he wasn’t joking around.“We’re here to overthrow [democracy] completely,” he continued. “We didn’t get all the way

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“Welcome to the end of democracy.” In other words, welcome to the modern conservative movement.

Yes, these words were actually uttered on stage Wednesday at the 2src24 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) by right-wing conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec. And he wasn’t joking around.

“We’re here to overthrow [democracy] completely,” he continued. “We didn’t get all the way there on Jan. 6, but we will endeavor to get rid of it and replace it with this right here,” Posobiec boasted. “That’s right, because all glory is not to government, all glory to God,” he said.

A confession: Until Posobiec’s comments went viral on social media, I wasn’t even aware that CPAC was happening this week. That might constitute a dereliction of duty. At the very least, it’s an admission against interest. Still, I think it says more about them than it does about me.

Closely following CPAC—if not attending the annual conclave—was once de rigueur for anyone with even a passing interest in the conservative movement. How times have changed. The small attendance size made the opening day of this year’s conference something of a laughing stock. As one observer quipped, “I’ve seen bigger Tupperware parties.”

There are reasons for this decline. The proliferation of conferences, many of them newer and younger—like Turning Point USA—have cannibalized what used to be the hottest annual conservative gathering. Likewise, just as the Republican Party has become smaller (and weirder) in the Trump era, so too has the conservative movement. And lastly, the people who run CPAC—the folks who inherited what was once a proud institutiondrove it into the ground.

Add all these things up, and CPAC is a shell of its former self. As Jimmy Kimmel put it, this year’s CPAC looks to be “a who’s who of who won’t accept the results of the election.” (Sadly, he was right.)

Still, regardless of its size or sanity, ignoring CPAC would be a mistake. That’s because some of those people on stage spouting nonsense may very well end up holding important posts in a future Trump administration (see Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton).

If you think this all sounds crazy, please note that as Posobiec was raising his fist at CPAC (allegedly, while holding up a necklace with a Christian cross pendant) and talking about replacing democracy, former White House adviser to then-President Trump, Steve Bannon, was literally saying, “Amen.” And Bannon was a Trump adviser back in the days when all the so-called “adults” were wrangling Trump to keep him in line.

Imagine what Trump 2.src might bring.

It’s not just that fringe figures might weasel their way into a Trump White House. It’s that they are actively being wooed.

Powerful and once-serious conservative organizationsfull of people who love Bannon—are busy creating the infrastructure to vet and place MAGA-types in a second Trump administration. Rather than weeding out Posobiec types, these organizations instead will be courting them.

But that recruiting is done on the internet or behind closed doors. CPAC, conversely, offers the public a chance to see how the sausage is being made. And it ain’t pretty.

Note: While you might be tempted to ignore or laugh off these rants, don’t. If you want to understand their radical worldview, it helps to pay attention. As Never Trump conservative Charlie Sykes likes to say, “A clown with a flamethrower still has… a flamethrower.”

If you still don’t think it’s worth your time, one admittedly disturbing thought experiment is to imagine that Trump wins the 2src24 presidency in a fairly decisive manner. What happens, then? Will Trump and his lackeys try to do the things they say they want to do, now that they are unmoored from the Republican establishment that tried to check him in 2src17?

If you want to know who Trump and his minions really are, there will be numerous opportunities at this year’s CPAC (which ends on Saturday) to find out.

For those looking for a little drama, watch CPAC this week. There will be a straw poll to determine whom attendees believe should be Trump’s running mate. Rather than contradict my theory that CPAC is more scary than funny, I suspect the poll results will confirm my take.

The bottom line is that while CPAC might be a shell of its former self, and while Posobiec and his ilk may be off their rocker, these people do represent the pulse of the MAGA movement. And the rotten truth is that more than a few of these people will find themselves in a Trump administration.

So hold your nose, and pay attention. Believe them when they tell you who they really are. The future of American democracy is at stake. It’s the end of the world as we know it.

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