Turning Point USA’s ‘America Fest’ conference blends concerts with Christian nationalism and political activism

GOP donors are spending massively on parties to keep Republican-leaning young people engaged and indoctrinated
A still image from a promotional video about "USA Fest 2021." Photo: Screenshot

First published by Right Wing Watch

Far-right conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec wants you to hang out with him at Turning Point USA’s “America Fest,” billed as the “biggest event in the conservative movement” in Phoenix, Arizona, Dec 18-21. At least that’s what he says on Twitter, where he offers a promo code for the event and insists it “makes a great Christmas present.” Joining him will be TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, and Donald Trump Jr. 

The event brings together right-wing Congress members, Christian nationalists, conspiracy theorists, and even right-wing activist athletes. A flashy promo video shows young conservatives dancing at what looks like a concert—and indeed, the event promises full concerts from a handful of country music stars, “God Bless the USA” singer Lee Greenwood, and Dee Jay Silver.

While the promotion makes the event look more like a party, Turning Point USA is an organization that trains and mobilizes right-wing college students. This summer, that mobilization focused on targeting public school boards for allowing schools to teach about racism in U.S. history and implementing LGBTQ-inclusive policies. The group has raised tens of millions of dollars, peddled disinformation about President Joe Biden’s win in 2020, and stoked fears about COVID-19 vaccines. The Associated Press writes that Kirk, who has called George Floyd a “scumbag,” “exploits the racial divide to reach Gen Z.”

Kirk has increasingly partnered with Christian nationalist forces, and the “America Fest” speaker attendee list reflects that. Religious-right activist pastor Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills will be in attendance as will religious-right activist musician Sean Feucht, who has toured the country protesting pandemic-related restrictions on public gatherings. Feucht launched a project to mobilize conservative Christian millennials after his unsuccessful run for U.S. Congress in Northern California.

The speaker list includes some newer (and younger) Congress members: 26-year-old Madison Cawthorn, who released a fervently Christian nationalist ad urging Christians to “take our country back” and in another speech called on parents to raise their sons to be “monsters”; Lauren Boebert, whose extremist rhetoric includes suggesting Rep. Ilhan Omar is a terrorist; and Matt Gaetz, who is facing a Justice Department investigation into whether he paid women for sex and, separately, whether he slept with a minor and transported her across state lines.

Rep. Louie Gohmert and Rep. Andy Biggs, the latter of whom Ali Alexander said helped plan the Stop the Steal rally on Jan. 6, are also scheduled to speak. The attendee list also features athletes and gun aficionados of the right-wing movement: with appearances from Michael Chandler, a Trump-supporting mixed martial arts fighter with the UFC; professional bow hunter Cameron Hanes; and John Lovell, better known as Warrior Poet, who offers trainings on tactical pistol and rifle use and small unit tactics as well as his vision of a “bold and dangerous masculinity.”

The event’s speaker list indicates the right’s vision for the future. 

Posobiec, who peddled the far-right Pizzagate conspiracy theory, is a contributor to TPUSA and, judging from his promotion of the event, will likely be a main feature of it. 

He recently teamed up with Kirk to interview 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot three and killed two protesters at a Black Lives Matter protest last year. Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges last month and became a hero, first in the eyes of the far-right and then the broader right-wing movement. The interview opened with Kirk expressing personal affinity: “Kyle, from the first moment I saw you in the news and saw video of you defending yourself, I felt we had something in common.”