Some of the most cartoonishly nutty members of the Republican caucus simply want to get famous, rich, or the affections of younger women. Representative Paul Gosar, on the other hand, has a plan. He wants to extend the rightward boundary of the Republican Party coalition and bring it right up to the edge of open Nazism.
Gosar announced last night that he is holding a fundraiser with Nick Fuentes:
There is a tendency on the left to engage in label inflation, collapsing the spectrum of thought on the right by shoving ever greater numbers of conservatives into the “white nationalist” slot. But Fuentes is the genuine article. He is a leader of the “Groypers,” a far-right, anti-Semitic group that could best be described as Nazi-adjacent. Fuentes is known for engaging in Holocaust denial, but in a teasing, “ironic” way that provides a razor-thin sheen of deniability.
Of course, sometimes politicians or their staff slip up and allow themselves to make contact with some controversial figure whose objectionable views they aren’t aware of. This is not one of those instances. In February, Gosar appeared at an America First Political Action Conference organized by Fuentes. (AFPAC is conceived as an even more right-wing alternative to CPAC — a difficult category to imagine, if you have any sense of how loony CPAC is.)
This event briefly caused an uproar. Gosar formally denounced “white racism,” but then proceeded to explain why he had reached out to Fuentes in the first place. “We thought about it, and we thought: There is a group of young people that are becoming part of the election process, and becoming a bigger force,” Gosar told the Washington Post. “So why not take that energy and listen to what they’ve got to say?”
After his latest outreach to Fuentes was announced last night, Gosar publicly and forcefully defended his rationale. He believes Fuentes and his Nazi fellow travelers are an important part of the party’s coalition, and he can and should work to bring them into the Republican coalition:
Gosar represents the right-wing pole of his party and is hardly representative. But party coalitions are defined by their range and their boundaries. And Gosar is hardly unique in his conviction that the Republican Party should go hunting for support further to the right than its traditional ideological endpoint. Gosar’s chosen label, “America First,” was used by the party’s undisputed leader, Donald Trump, and directly recalls the beliefs of the 1930s nationalist far right, a movement that openly defended Nazism and engaged in flagrant anti-Semitism.
Gosar’s ongoing place in the House Republican conference does not mean the party shares all his beliefs. It does mean they find his beliefs tolerable. Gosar is not hiding behind professions of ignorance. He is putting his plan square on the table: Keeping him in the Republican Party means bringing Holocaust-denying Nazi stooges into the tent.