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Turning Point USA's AmericaFest puts gaudy GOP extremism on display

In a year of controversies, Turning Point USA drew dozens of GOP lawmakers and pundits to its extremism-friendly confetti weekend.

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Republican lawmakers and media figures sidled up to conservative extremists at this year’s “AmericaFest,” an event hosted by the Trump-loving organization Turning Point USA.?

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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene posed for a selfie with convicted Jan. 6 rioter Jacob Chansley. During a conversation with far-right podcaster Tim Pool, TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk?endorsed the racist "replacement theory" that's popular among white nationalists. And conservative commentator Jason Whitlock unleashed a fiery diatribe against voting rights for all.?

NBC News’ Alex Tabet reports that rejecting feminism in favor of hypermasculinity was also a major theme at the conference. Kirk claimed in a speech that “no country was ever saved by a male feminist” and warned that “countless countries” have been “lost by weak beta males”?— a sentiment that was echoed in remarks from attendees.

Charlie Kirk takes the stage during AmericaFest 2023 at the Phoenix Convention Center on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023.
Charlie Kirk takes the stage during AmericaFest 2023 at the Phoenix Convention Center on Dec. 16.Alex Gould / Arizona Republic / USA Today Network

“The Lord created us for two different roles,” Brittany Weatherill, 30, from Chandler, Arizona, told Tabet.?“I feel that men are meant to have that role in which they lead us and not just in our household, but in our faith and just in our country.”

“Feminism is this direct punch against masculinity and the male figure in society,” said Eli Land, 21, a roofer also from Chandler.

Yikes. Not a ringing endorsement of the strength of conservative masculinity, if you ask me.

"AmericaFest" has become an annual, pitiful procession of right-wingers looking to signal their coolness to the ostensibly youthful conservatives who comprise Turning Point USA. That so many Republican lawmakers, aspiring lawmakers and media figures were willing to appear seems like desperation and thirst for relevance. Especially given TPUSA's litany of embarrassments and controversies over the past year.

Simply put, Turning Point USA is taking on water from a PR perspective. To kick off the year, TPUSA leadership backed a failed effort to oust Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel. The organization faced backlash over antisemitism in its ranks, even as its leaders sought to portray liberals as antisemitic (relatedly: Rolling Stone reported several of the attendees at this year’s AmericaFest are known to traffic antisemitism). After targeting liberals with baseless “groomer” allegations, TPUSA was found to have invited a convicted sex offender to participate in a “Pastors Summit” held this summer. TPUSA-backed initiatives and candidates this year — including an abortion referendum in Ohio and a Supreme Court race in Wisconsin — took notable losses. And TPUSA leadership was called out by fellow Republicans for “grifting” and living lavishly despite those duds.?

But like Trump, TPUSA's influence over modern-day conservatism appears unchanged, no matter the results. And this past weekend was a prime example.

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