The “MAGA Movement” comprises bunches of pro-Trump pundits and social media personalities who use their followings to gin up support for the president in the face of all criticism. Last week, they attempted to rile up their supporters at a conference in the nation’s capital city.
The event, calling itself the American Priority Conference, appeared to be well-financed with its stage setup, conference space rental and speakers lineup, but it still reportedly drew less than 100 attendees at its peak. Attendance was so low that one of the event’s headline speakers, Stefan Molyneux, canceled his talk after arriving at the conference and witnessing the dismal turnout. In photos from the event, rows of seats remained empty, even as newsworthy speakers like GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone spoke at the conference.
Political operative Roger Stone, a long-time ally of President Donald Trump, speaks at the American Priority conference in Washington. More photos of the day: https://t.co/F4LN8WasDD ? @jimurquhartpixs pic.twitter.com/psKRunR1Qz
— Reuters Pictures (@reuterspictures) December 7, 2018
The conference lost other headline speakers, including Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth and Heritage Foundation Distinguished Visiting Fellow Stephen Moore, after Right Wing Watch reported that the event was slated to host a panel and speakers supportive of the bizarre “QAnon” conspiracy theory, which alleges that President Donald Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller are secretly working in tandem to unravel a global network of satanic pedophiles who traffic children so that top Democrats like Hillary Clinton can do unspeakable things to them in secret. QAnon supporters still attended the conference, reportedly brushing shoulders with erstwhile White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, whose tenure in the job is counted in days.
Right Wing Watch was denied press access by conference organizers despite the fact they touted the event on their website as “A Home for Free Speech and Free Association.” Curiously enough, the event also denied press access to The Gateway Pundit’s Cassandra Fairbanks, despite Gateway Pundit’s aggressively pro-Trump tone. Fairbanks told us that after inquiring into her denied request, she learned that organizers had taken issue with the fact she had invited Chelsea Manning to an event hosted by Mike Cernovich in New York City earlier this year.
The American Priority Conference sought to be a rallying point for the MAGA movement, but instead the conference was another demonstration of a fundamental issue within the pro-Trump effort: an inability to translate their social media prominence into meaningful activism. Last year, some of the same figures attempted to solidify their influence in Washington by starting a pro-Trump super PAC, but the effort ultimately failed after they failed to convince donors to contribute funds. Other events, dating back as far as 2017, have also proved themselves to be fractious, as larger MAGA pundits hoping to land gigs in mainstream conservative circles try to publicly eliminate the less PR-friendly radical elements from their orbit. Those past alliances, which gave them power in the 2016 election, are now proving to be barriers to their efforts to enter into realms of consequential influence.
Whether it be a charade or naiveté, prominent figures in the MAGA universe are still adamant that they have the potential to be a political force of nature on the ground. One America News pundit Jack Posobiec, despite the fact that he granted airtime to advertise the underwhelming conference on the network at which he works, insisted during a rambling live audio stream that the movement was not over, asserting that “God has our backs on this.”
There was perhaps no more telling moment for the state of the MAGA movement than when anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer last month handcuffed herself to a door at Twitter’s New York City offices, demanding she be un-suspended from the platform. She lasted approximately two hours before police helped her cut herself from the door. She has since seemed to fade into obscurity, proving that without their large social media followings, MAGA movement members like Loomer can’t seem to accomplish much beyond the occasional stunt.