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At CPAC, Republican Party Embraces Dangerous Falsehoods and Conspiracy Theories

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GOP on Display in Orlando a Disturbing Reminder of Their Sympathies in Struggle Between Fascist Authoritarianism and Inclusive Democracy

Washington, DC – Over the weekend, Republican thinkers, activists, and elected officials gathered in Orlando, Florida for the Conservative Political Action Conference’s (CPAC)’s annual convening.  As America’s Voice recaps, “from start to finish, the conference displayed the GOP’s disturbing trajectory, revealing that one of the two major political parties is organizing itself around a politics of white grievance and ultra-nationalism while cozying up to the idea of political violence” through the sustained focus on dangerous immigration “invasion” and race “replacement” themes. Meanwhile, just down the street, overt white nationalists shared the stage with elected Republicans at a second conference, America First PAC (AFPAC III).

According to Zachary Mueller, Senior Political Manager for America’s Voice,

With the world’s attention focused on Ukraine and the struggle between fascist authoritarianism and inclusive democracy, the Republican party on display in Orlando offered a disturbing reminder of which side of that line they are embracing. Republicans are much more interested in discussing a fictitious ‘invasion’ by people seeking safety at our southern border than in decrying the actual invasion that is reshaping European and world security. The former President of the United States and Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) used their speeches at CPAC to echo the same racist conspiracy theory about a hostile immigrant ‘invasion’ to replace white people, which has inspired several white nationalist mass murders in the U.S. When the majority of Americans clearly support legalization and turning the page on Trump’s cruel and chaotic policies, the hardline rhetoric from Republican leaders puts them out of step with everyone outside of the GOP base and is a disturbing turn in from the leadership of the Republican party.

Read the full recap of the Republican Party on display in Orlando here and find key summaries below:

  • Donald Trump at CPAC: During his Saturday night keystone speech at CPAC, Trump stated, “I believe America deserves a president who will stop the invasion of our country,” which received a standing ovation. Continued Trump, “They [Democrats] are destroying our own borders and surrendering our own sovereignty… under Joe Biden, we are losing our country, no different than if we lost it in a war, no different, no different. Millions of people are pouring in, descending into our communities, camping in our towns, depleting our resources, floating our laws, and are bringing crime, drugs, and death to the streets of our communities.” This dangerous “invasion” theory asserts there is a coordinated effort of non-white migrants currently invading the southern border that will replace white America. Popularized by white nationalists, this racist conspiracy theory is the “most important driver of the insurrectionist movement” according to research from the University of Chicago. Tragically, from Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2018 to El Paso, Texas in 2019 to the United States Capital in 2021, we have seen the deadly results when some individuals decide to act on these racist ideas.  
  • Other “invasion” themes and focus at CPAC: The “invasion” focus was prominent throughout CPAC and was organized into the conference itself. Mercedes Schlapp, former White House Director of Strategic Communications, moderated a panel discussion titled “The Invasion” that included Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Former Director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Thomas Homan. Sen. Rick Scott, who leads the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and designs on leadership used his speech to push the lie, warning of a “dangerous invasion at the border, drugs, and criminals marching in every day.” A leading activist in the party, Charlie Kirk, of Turning Points USA, took the main stage on Thursday proclaiming, “I want every Republican leader who comes up on this stage to call what is happening on the southern border an invasion.
  • Republicans appear at a separate white nationalist conference in Orlando: Also this weekend, a competing conference in Florida, AFPAC III, was more overt in its embrace of white nationalism. Organized by leading white nationalist Nick Fuentes, the conference featured a defense of Hitler, applause at being labeled a racist, and calls for the “gallows.” Expectedly the program was filled with the nation’s vile bigots, racists, and xenophobes but several elected Republicans took the stage alongside them.  The night before taking the stage at CPAC, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14) took the stage at the white nationalist conference.  Lt. Gov of Idaho Janice McGeachin, Rep. Paul Gosar (AZ-04), and Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers all appeared at the conference via video.  Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio also took the stage at the white nationalist conference and was loudly applauded when he said he was “the biggest racist in the country.”  And State Senator Rogers’ is the one who called for the “gallows.

Read the new America’s Voice recap: “A Weekend in Orlando Demonstrates the Republican Party is Going Down a Dark Path Towards White Nationalism

Check out ongoing examples of Republicans’ anti-immigrant ads at the America’s Voice GOP Ad Tracker: http://gopadtracker.com/