Conservative conference shows how the ‘alt-right fringe’ now dominates ​Republican ​politics

Conservative conference shows how the ‘alt-right fringe’ now dominates ​Republican ​politics
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At the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference, which was held in Orlando, Florida from February 24-27, the theme was “Awake, Not Woke” — and the far-right lineup ranged the Daily Wire’s Candace Owens to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to former President Donald Trump himself. The MAGA movement clearly dominated the event, which journalist Franklin Foer analyzes in an article published by The Atlantic on March 3. The four-day gathering, Foer laments, demonstrated that the alt-right is no longer the lunatic fringe in the GOP and now dominates Republican politics.

CPAC leader Matt Schlapp, according to Foer, has no problem with event moving in a more “alt-right” direction.

“At CPAC 2022, the alt-right has become the right, and the fringe is now mainstream — and that’s exactly as the establishment intended it,” Foer explains. “The brains of that establishment is Matt Schlapp, a lobbyist who has worked for Koch Industries, Comcast, Verizon, and other corporate interests. He is the chair of CPAC and the impresario of the four-day event.”

Foer stresses that CPAC 2022 was radically different from CPAC 1999.

“The last time I attended CPAC was in 1999, back when it was held in a drab room in a Crystal City, Virginia hotel,” Foer explains. “Maybe then, somebody bothered with placing American flags behind the podium. Certainly, there were no swirling spotlights coming from the ceiling, no slick advertisements for Dinesh D’Souza documentaries playing between speakers. To get a small crowd with good energy, college kids were bused into town. It was like a middle-school play compared with the Super Bowl halftime show that CPAC has become.”

Foer continues, “The diminutive head of the Family Research Council, Gary Bauer — Gary Bauer! — won the straw poll that year, making him the movement’s favorite contender for the 2000 presidential election. I remember standing in the back of the room listening to Bill Kristol hold court. Now, I imagine what the guys wearing ‘I Stand for the Flag, I Kneel for the Cross’ T-shirts, who circle the resort on Harleys with Trump flags fluttering behind their hogs, would say if the Never Trump pundit made an appearance.”

Trump’s speech, Foer notes, was one of the things that drew attendees to CPAC 2022.

“Whatever impulse existed to keep Trump at arm’s length from this year’s gathering never had the force of genuine conviction,” Foer writes. “Earlier in the week, Trump announced that he would appear on Saturday, not Sunday. The schedule bent to his desire. It’s his presence that fills the seats, that attracts the media, that makes the enterprise run. On the morning that he is to address the conference, a line snakes along the outside of the hotel.”

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