The America First Political Action Conference Is Courting Republicans Towards Extremism

The America First Political Action Conference on Friday will be a showcase of once-taboo ideologies that are dangerously being given a voice in the GOP.

White nationalist activists and their sympathizers in today’s far-right U.S. political scene are set to gather this week for a conference meant to showcase their movement’s numbers and its successes courting Republican Party influence in the post-Capitol riot landscape.

The America First Political Action Conference is headlined and organized by white nationalist activist Nicholas Fuentes and derives its name from a merger of Fuentes’ America First podcast and the event it is designed to siphon crowds from: the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Arizona’s Rep. Paul Gosar opened for Fuentes at last year’s AFPAC conference and has continued to root for the young white nationalist. Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers, popular with Trump and other 2020 election deniers nationwide, has also sung Fuentes’ praises online. The latter Arizona politician is slated to appear at AFPAC this weekend, in addition to former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio and Iowa Rep. Steve King, both of whom hold notoriety for harboring unusually cruel anti-immigrant attitudes.

Longtime conservative columnist Michelle Malkin torpedoed her reputation in mainstream conservative circles in 2019 after she decided to commit herself to Fuentes and the movement he leads. 

But that righteous stigma has gradually waned from Fuentes and his movement, thanks in no small part to the tokens of validity loaned to him by elected officials like Gosar and Rogers. Media outlets like Fox News and commentators like Glenn Greenwald have also extended varying degrees of sympathy toward Fuentes in the last year. 

Without aggressive pushback, that strategy just might work. As the lines between mainstream conservative politics and once-taboo far-right ideologies have blurred, figures like Fuentes are capitalizing on the moment.