CPAC is the testing ground for MAGA’s dangerous ideas

Indivisible Guide
5 min readMar 6, 2023
Screengrab via NBC News

If you, like most of the country, tuned out from following last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), we can’t say we blame you. Considered the country’s largest annual meeting of conservatives, Republican elected officials, leaders, and acolytes met to give a platform to extremists like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan, Lauren Boebert, and Donald Trump.

Maybe you heard about it as a punchline on late-night TV, or saw photos of rows of empty chairs on Twitter. The media coverage has framed this as simply a fringe group that’s losing relevance and power. But we know MAGA is as strong as ever in the Republican Party, and the ideas they pushed are anything but funny:

  • Election deniers like Arizona’s Kari Lake — who lost her race for governor in 2022 — were given top billing to continue pushing the lie that the election was rigged. And Steve Bannon called out Fox News for “illegitimately calling” the presidential race for Biden in November 2020.
  • Republicans tried to minimize and rewrite the history of the anti-democratic insurrection of January 6, while celebrating autocrats around the world. Would-be Brazilian dictator Jair Bolsonaro was given a prime speaking slot, and speakers repeatedly took aim at forces fighting Russia and Putin, demonizing Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
  • While discussing family separation at the southern border under his watch, Thomas Homan, Trump’s former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) declared, “I don’t give a shit.”
  • The continuous attacks on the trans community throughout the conference culminated in the Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles calling for the elimination of “transgenderism” from public life.
  • Finally, Trump ended the conference with a pledge of vengeance, telling his followers: “I am your voice… I am your warrior… I am your retribution.”

As journalist Molly Jong-Fast said, “CPAC, like with Donald Trump, you ignore them at your own peril.” This is a testing ground for the party’s future policy, and the ideas being floated today become tomorrow’s policy. This isn’t just rhetoric to energize their base — there’s legislation on these issues moving right now in states across the country, and in some states it has already been signed into law.

Trump dominated all of the other 2024 hopefuls in the infamous CPAC straw poll, but whether or not you think he will become the nominee, the MAGA ideology is the core of the Republican Party: authoritarianism, cruelty, and intolerance. By minimizing CPAC’s impact in their coverage, the media is normalizing the MAGA agenda — just like they did for Trump’s candidacy in 2016. But we now know how this ends, and we know how dangerous this truly is.

We have much more to say about the work ahead to defeat MAGA in 2024, so stay tuned for a major update on our plans tomorrow.

Your 4 weekly Indivisible Project to-dos

  1. If you have a Republican representative, call and tell them to condemn Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (MTG) support for secession and demand they make Kevin McCarthy take action. Get your representative on the record. Demand that they condemn MTG. When Republicans refuse to condemn their most extreme allies, they tacitly support their actions. Let’s make sure our friends and neighbors know that the Republican party is supporting secession. No need to call if your representative is MTG, but you can still spread news about her anti-American stance.
  2. If your Republican MoC refuses to speak out, publicize it! Any Member of Congress who can’t bring themselves to reject Greene’s comments should be forced to own them. When you’re done sharing with your friends and neighbors directly, write a letter to the editor holding your representative accountable for supporting Greene’s extremism. Republicans are just as responsible for supporting her as she is for supporting secession.
  3. If you have a Democratic senator, call and tell them to ditch the “blue slip” and confirm as many judges as possible. Federal judges have an outsized impact on the execution of national policy. One conservative judge in the right position can completely block progress, or delay it enough to make it essentially useless. Biden has been nominating judges at a historic pace, but Senate Democrats are still handing significant power to Republicans to block confirmations through an archaic Senate rule called the “blue slip.” Unsurprisingly, Republicans did not follow this rule when they controlled the Senate under Trump. Some Democrats have recently signaled they’re open to eliminating this rule, something they have the power to do immediately. Tell your Democratic senator to support ditching the “blue slip” today!
  4. Do you live in a rural area? Click here to join our National Rural Program. We have resources and calls specifically for our rural Indivisibles where you can learn more about strategies and issues specific to Indivisibles living in rural areas. If you want an idea of what that looks like, check out our agenda and notes from previous meetings.

P.S. We rely on your support to keep call pages up and running, fund ads to get the word out, and continue all the work we’re doing this year. If you’re able, click here to donate to help fund our work.

IndivisiWin of the Week

Indivisibles in NY17 protested outside of a fundraiser attended by Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Mike Lawler in Armonk, NY demanding they not cut Social Security and Medicare. For more, check out this news story.

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If CPAC reminded us of anything, it is that MAGA extremism is still the central ideology of the modern Republican party. Keep on the lookout for more information tomorrow about our next steps to fight back!

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Indivisible Guide

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