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MAGA Candidate Begs For Absolution From Dorm-Room David Duke

Joe Kent, a grown-ass man and candidate for Congress, humiliates himself on a livestream for teenage white nationalists.
March 10, 2022
MAGA Candidate Begs For Absolution From Dorm-Room David Duke
(Composite / Photos: GettyImages)

Running for political office is an inherently humiliating endeavor. Among other indignities, candidates are forced to grovel for money, both in high-dollar denominations from country-club assholes who think they’re masters of the universe and for peanuts from strangers on the internet. They have to get pictures taken wearing goggles. Maintain their cool as they get shouted down by political opponents. And be publicly judged on their carriage and verbal miscues.

There’s really no getting out of a campaign with your dignity fully intact. But every once in a while there appears a candidate who manages to abase himself in such a spectacularly extravagant manner that it merits special recognition.

Lately that person has tended to be Ted Cruz.

But this week Cruz’s golden ball gag was claimed in breathtaking fashion by a young upstart: Joe Kent, the MAGA primary challenger to Washington Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera-Beutler.

Kent has positioned himself as a darling of the self-described “America First” wing of the GOP, contrasting his slavish devotion to Donald Trump with Herrera-Beutler’s support for Trump’s second impeachment. In doing so, Kent has touched all the MAGA campaign bases. Holding fundraisers with the pro-insurrection glitterati. Being feted by Trump at the Winter White (Power) House. Tweeting about how Ukraine should surrender to Russia. Becoming one of a select group of virile men chosen to earn Peter Thiel’s largesse. Ranting about the tyranny of life-saving vaccine mandates on Tucker Carlson’s show.

But then Ol’ Joe made a miscalculation. Apparently, he’s been getting strategy advice from the virgin white-nationalist leader Nick Fuentes. This relationship was revealed when Fuentes released the recording of a call he had with Kent during which the candidate praised the Groyper’s attempts at trolling his way to a white majority telling him “I love what you are doing.” It was also reported that Kent’s top campaign consultant set up a booth at Fuentes’s America First PAC conference, the same one Rep. Paul Gosar spoke at last year.

After getting caught in bed with the Keyboard Hitler Youth, Kent got some backlash in the district. So last week on Twitter, Kent tried to get some distance from the group, condemning “Fuentes’s politics, especially in regards to our ally Israel.”

And that’s when things went off the rails.

We’ve all seen these scandals before. We know their cadence: Candidate gets caught with his hand in the extremist cookie jar, backs off, condemns the group, and moves forward by using more socially acceptable dog whistles to appeal to the fringe elements.

But Joe Kent realized that he couldn’t really move on. Because what got him crosswise with Republican primary voters wasn’t being phone pals with Fuentes, but trying to break with him. So he decided to get on his knees and beg for another cookie. Like a dog.

Kent’s attempt to re-ingratiate himself with youthful confederates was streamed live in an excruciating 47-minute interview with the American Populist Union that was billed as an attempt to “set the record straight” on L’affair Fuentes.

What is the APU? It’s a group of teens and post-teens who are trying to advance Christian white identity politics through memes and ugly sunglasses. They’ve been called the “forgotten gamers of America.” This interview was Kent’s second appearance before them. So he clearly sees them as a key constituency.

Kent appeared across from David Carlson, who is the APU’s “chief content officer.” Baby-faced with a hint of rosacea and clad in a black funeral suit, Carlson resembles a nerdy, beta version of Buzz from Home Alone, mashed up with the anti-Semitic McGoo Collins from School Ties.

For this colloquy, Kent wore a flannel shirt in his den. (Carlson was seated in front of a stark red background that may or may not have been concealing his childhood bedroom. Who can say.)

Honestly, no matter what you’re imagining, it’s not enough. You have to see this insanity for yourself.

The interview begins with Carlson intoning “we are here to explicitly talk about what happened on Thursday regarding you and Nick Fuentes” in the manner of an RA set to arbitrate a dorm room dispute. Along the right side of the screen the comments section flies by, a mix of Pepe emojis, Groyper salutes, odes to Jesus Christ, declarations that Putin is “based,” and claims that Kent is a traitor whose “donors killed my lord.”

By which I assume the commenter is referring to THE JOOOOOS. Real subtle.

Kent spends the first few minutes defending his America First bona fides and the decision to distance himself from Fuentes while McGoo smirks and rolls his eyes. As their exchange goes on, sensing that he needs to earn the young man’s approval, Kent begins to give the klansboys what they want.

Carlson: Would you say that white people are discriminated against in America today?

Kent: Yeah certainly, yeah I would . . . to say that the culture is anti-white, to say that the culture is anti-straight-white-male, like yeah, I feel like that’s fairly easy to bring receipts to. . . .

Carlson: There’s a cultural aspect too, you admit that. What would you say the effects of mass legal immigration is on the cultural America. I mean, what is the cultural America too, what is that to you?

Kent: The cultural America is acknowledging our history. For all the good that our history has done. Our Judeo-Christian roots I think are absolutely essential, I don’t think we can deny that . . . I think tearing down our statues and monuments is a major problem. I think we have to recognize that America has a unique Judeo-Christian culture. . . . We can’t be bringing in massive amounts of people either legally or illegally that really don’t agree with our cultural values. Again, that’s why I do support an immigration moratorium. Yeah. . . .

Carlson: Another thing you pointed out about Nick and his rhetoric, you said it is divisive regarding race and religion . . . The Founding Fathers were Christian, the founding stock were Puritan Quaker Christians, the greatest Americans have been Christians from any walk, any church. Why is that angle in your opinion from where Nick is coming from divisive. What is so dividing about that?

Kent: That’s more of a tactics thing. . . . If he wants to do that with his brand like that’s fine, that’s his thing, however if we are trying to win elections I don’t see that as a very good strategy.

The conversation later moved on from Kent being fine with Fuentes “doing his thing” to Fuentes’s assertion that white Christian men are the “backbone” of the movement:

Carlson: If the constituency of the movement is young white Christian men that would be true the same way the constituency of BLM is black people, ya know that doesn’t mean it’s only for those people, right, there’s also like white liberals that self-hate that are part of BLM.

Kent. Yeah, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with there being a white-people special interest group. They have to be very careful about the way they couch that and the way they frame that, obviously in terms of messaging and in terms of getting credibility. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. As far as me running as a candidate, running out there and saying this is all about white people, that does not seem like a winning strategy.

Yikes. Say what you want about that white identitarian drivel, it’s hard to question the strategic mind of a man currently supplicating himself in front of a dormitory David Duke.

As the interview goes on, Carlson continues in the offensive posture, pressuring Kent on why it’s controversial to grant the supremacy of white Christian culture and asking who is to blame for our current racial tensions when things seemed to be just fine in the ’90s when The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was on. Kent found sturdy ground on this topic by repeatedly blaming the woke left for the increase in racial tensions, which is amazing seeing as how he is a candidate for federal office endorsed by a former president appearing on a child’s white identity politics livestream.

Let us suspend disbelief for a moment, and pretend that Kent is too dense to understand what Carlson is doing to him. Maybe he isn’t noticing that one of Nick Fuentes’s racist buddies is making him beg for absolution from the far-right internet.

Well, at the 33-minute mark, the young man puts what is at stake here right on the nose, with a white genocide question tinged with a hint of vocal fry:

Carlson: We’re talking about demographics here. American demographics right now are like what, 70 percent white, 30 percent minority. Um, I mean, at what point have we lost America?

Kent: It has a lot more to do with, like, who are we bringing in. I think America is very lucky in the fact that like the people to our south the Hispanic community most of them are Christians, their Catholic right, so I think that’s why they are so easy to kind of absorb. Again I don’t want to absorb all. But we are very lucky compared to Europe who their version of Mexico is Africa and the Middle East where there’s drastic cultural and religious differences, so we’re fortunate in that place. I don’t know what the ideal ratio is, I would never want to look at it in terms of racial percentages, I would want to keep it very close to the way it is right now.

You can’t get much more clear about your white majoritarian stance than saying you want to freeze the demographics of this country at the very levels they are now. How he would suggest this be done—a one-child policy for certain races?—was not explored. After all, this isn’t a show about policy.

But during the Q&A portion, Kent was faced with a question that pushed deeper on his views with regards to racial equality in this country. Carlson reads a question from “KidTrunks” who asks: “When it comes to policy making decisions do you consider the needs of Chinese speaking anchor baby citizens equally as important as the needs of legacy Americans whose ancestors fought in the American Revolution?”

Before getting to Kent, Carlson smiles and notes, “interesting question.”

Kent, in turn, concurs. “No. I’m actually against birthright citizenship,” he replies before extending his remarks on the evils of this constitutional right and hypothesizes about how he might strip certain Americans of their citizenship.

So in case you are confused about where Joe Kent stands when it comes to Nick Fuentes and the white nationalists, here is how I would sum up his interview.

  1. He doesn’t like white nationalist leader Nick Fuentes’s “tactics”
  2. But is happy to prostrate himself in front of a child who works for an organization that held a rally which included a Nick! Nick! Nick! chant
  3. He is uncomfortable with discussing racial percentages and quotas for our country
  4. But wants to keep the demographics very close to the way they are right now.
  5. He is totes cool with there being a “white identity interest group” and does not object to BLM supporters being “self-hating whites”
  6. But doesn’t think it’s a great strategy to campaign on it.
  7. He believes the America First movement is about all American citizens, regardless of race or religion, who support his nationalist platform
  8. But does not believe “Chinese anchor baby citizens” should have the same status as white bros who pretend that their great great grandpappy was on the Mayflower.

Or put more succinctly: Joe Kent is a grown-ass man who let a racist brat browbeat him into admitting on video that he does, in fact, share their white nationalist ideology, but that he doesn’t think it’s a good campaign strategy to say it out loud.

Humiliating. Shameful. And not very based at all.

Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large and the author of the best-selling book Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump and communications director for Jeb Bush 2016.