It’s clearer than ever that the MIGOP has become a shell of a functioning political party

LANSING — As Michigan prepares for the arrival of the original MAGA politician, former President Donald Trump himself, we would be remiss not to take a minute to revisit the debacle that was the Michigan GOP’s Mackinac conference this weekend. 

From the start, the event devolved into a who’s who of Republican extremism, proving once and for all how far the MIGOP has fallen from its once-respected place in Michigan politics. This conference used to be frequented by every Republican presidential candidate, but this year, only Vivek Ramaswamy managed to make the trek. One of the conference’s promised speakers, noted conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souza, didn’t even bother to show up. 

The Mackinac conference was filled with party infighting, calls for Karamo’s resignation, and events titled “Election Fraud,” which unsurprisingly lacked both sponsors and attendees. While Republican “leader” MAGA Matt Hall was nowhere to be seen, he can’t hide from the fact that he has not called out this dangerous rhetoric and was one of Trump’s original disciples here in Michigan, paving the way for the exact same kind of extremism we saw this weekend. 

Here’s a quick quiz! Which of the following quotes from the GOP Mackinac conference are real? 

  1. A member of the state committee described it as a “historic flop”
  2. Karamo claimed evolution was taught to push a “Godless society”
  3. A speaker came dressed in a plague doctor costume and rang a bell

Hint: it’s all of them!

Here are just *some* of the best hits on the GOP conference: 

Detroit Free Press: At unusual Mackinac conference, Michigan GOP chair tells critics to ‘pound sand’

  • The nationally known speakers of past years, who have included then-Vice President Mike Pence, then-U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, were not to be found this weekend. Instead, attendees heard from Jim Caviezel, an actor who portrayed Jesus in the film “The Passion of the Christ”
  • When longtime conference attendees ran into each other in the corridors, they could be heard making comments like, “I don’t recognize anybody here.”

The Detroit News: Infighting pesters Michigan GOP: It’s Trump supporters vs. everybody

  • Bree Moeggenberg, a member of the Michigan Republican Party’s state committee … described the conference as a “historic flop.” Meanwhile, Jeff Fuss, a Republican from Ottawa County, called on Karamo, a former podcast host and educator, to resign. Fuss contended the state party was functionally bankrupt.
  • Another Republican delegate, Bethany Wheeler of Macomb County, penned a letter to her party mates over the weekend that said the attendance at the conference signified “deeper, systemic malfunction.”
  • Asked about the size of the crowd at the conference, Forton looked toward the main ballroom: “There’s not many in there.”

Bridge Michigan: Trump World lands on Mackinac as Michigan GOP sets presidential caucus plan

  • Under her leadership, this weekend’s Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference took on a different tone than previous years. Missing were the throngs of elected officials, establishment candidates, policy speeches, island fundraisers and corporate donors. Also largely missing: strategy talks about how to win key elections in 2024.
  • Teaching evolution in public schools was “a necessary prerequisite” to “push a Godless society,” Karamo claimed.
  • “This has become a complete cult of personality,” said Anne Delisle, chair of Michigan’s Eighth Congressional District Republican Party, who called Karamo a “beautiful person” but “not a great leader.”

MLive: Michigan GOP leader tells critics to “pound sand” amid pleas for unity at Mackinac

  • Charles Thurston, a speaker that claimed to unify the bible and medicine, appeared at the podium wearing the mask of a medieval plague doctor and a tri-cornered hat, ringing a bell to skewer the pandemic response.
  • The two seniormost elected officials to speak on stage, Reps. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, and Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, faced periodic heckling from the audience as they discussed issues in Washington, DC.
  •  Moeggenberg said. “We’re really proving to be incapable”

While this may seem like a bad SNL skit, it’s all true! The MIGOP is too focused on its own internal chaos to even begin crafting a policy agenda that benefits Michiganders. We have no doubt that Trump’s upcoming visit is going to prove how out of step they are, and we’ll be watching to see who embraces the former President and who stays silent in an attempt to hide their history of far-right extremism (here’s looking at you Matt Hall). 


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