Salon: CPAC ‘Cemented’ GOP into ‘Overtly Authoritarian, Fascist Party’

Former President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. Begun in 1974, CPAC brings together conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders to discuss issues important to them. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

An essay published in the far-left Salon on Monday claims the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was geared around completing the transformation of the Republican party into an “overtly authoritarian — even fascist — party” while accusing Republican voters of encouraging and supporting both racism and fascism.

The essay, penned by senior politics writer Amanda Marcotte and titled “CPAC was about more than Trump’s cult — it’s now cemented the GOP’s authoritarianism,” begins by describing CPAC as “a conference for unvarnished fascists, where the main organizer gave a speech calling for America to be white nationalist country and openly celebrated the insurrection spearheaded by Donald Trump on Jan. 6.” 

Marcotte then describes a supposed common Republican strategy “used throughout Trump’s presidency” and now “heavily employed to minimize the attempted insurrection,” which she terms the “fascism two-step.” 

In it, “Republicans do something overtly fascist” and then “wave off concerns about their fascism by faking umbrage” while “relying on the widespread belief that ‘it can never happen here’ to paint their critics as hysterical.”

In particular, Marcotte notes supposed “Trump worship” and “Trump idolatry” which she claims “is only part of what is the bigger and much scarier story of CPAC.”

“What’s a fascist party without a cult around a narcissistic leader?” Marcotte asks, before accusing Trump of “purging the party of anyone who isn’t on board with a fascist agenda.”

Ultimately, Marcotte reasons, Trump functions “as a tool for his followers to get what they want,” which is to “make the U.S. a white nationalist country, which is always what the ‘MAGA’ slogan stood for.”

In Marcottes view, CPAC “was geared around the task of completing the transformation of the Republican party into an overtly authoritarian — even fascist — party” focused on “seizing and holding power against the will of the American people.” 

According to Marcotte, “insurrection and the violent assault on American democracy” is “what the CPAC crowd is all about.” 

“The picture painted at CPAC was clear,” Marcotte writes. “This crowd is blatantly fascist.” 

On top of the “anti-democratic agenda” and rhetoric, “CPAC was heavy on another major feature of fascism: An eagerness to use violence, especially against racial minorities, to stifle political opposition,” she adds.

Marcotte also accuses Trump supporters of racism, claiming they deem the votes of “racially diverse” voters and those who “prefer Democrats” inherently illegitimate. 

“They oppose any democracy that includes people of color as equals, believe the ‘winner’ of an election is the guy who got the most white voters and wallow in fantasies of violently suppressing Black protesters.”

“And they are remaking the GOP in their image,” she writes.

The essay comes as the media has launched an all-out assault against Republicans, depicting them as Nazis and fascists.

On Friday, the publication accused Republicans of resembling “good Germans” of the Nazi era — wishing to believe they are decent people while hiding behind “fictions of plausible deniability for the evils committed by their leader” —  and described today’s conservatism as seeking “friendly fascism” masked in an appeal to return to “traditional values.”

Earlier this week, actress Rosanna Arquette threatened to boycott Hyatt hotels for hosting CPAC — which she described as a “fascist Nazi convention” — over the weekend, while fellow actress Alyssa Milano — among many on the left — floated a wild and baseless conspiracy that CPAC organizers deliberately fashioned the main stage to resemble a Nazi symbol.

Last month, after the Senate acquitted former President Trump of inciting the January 6 Capitol Hill riots, left-wing Hollywood celebrities lashed out at the 43 Republicans who voted to acquit, referring to them as “traitors” and “fascists.”

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.

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