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Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Gaetz to CPAC 2024: Whose ‘Chaos Agenda’?

The American Conservative features the Florida congressman’s remarks as delivered on February 23, explicitly responding to a recent profile in the New Yorker. 

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Credit: Getty Images

Well, we gather here just 10 miles away from the U.S. Capitol, but I must say the vibes at CPAC are very different. In Congress, I’m often excoriated, smeared, derided for exposing a corrupt system that has been weaponized against We the People. 

I’ve made it a living hell for the swamp rats, and many of them are retiring now—in fact, CNN just ran an article blaming me for their departures! You are welcome!

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The truth is, we can’t save the nation with the current Republican team. We have to get tougher, smarter, and we need newer, bolder voices in the United States Congress.

So if you have a campaign and you’re running as a Paul Ryan, or a Kevin McCarthy Republican, my message to you is this: They don’t work here anymore!

CNN is accusing me of wiping out institutional knowledge, but, if you had knowledge of some of my co-workers, and how they made decisions, you’d want to put them in [an] institution. The next phase of our plan is to replace the droves of retiring members with America First patriots.

Republican primary voters must do their part in a battle space full of enemies. Mike Pence just announced that he’s building a $20 million fund to combat America’s embrace of populism. It's no surprise to me that Mike Pence is against populism—he was never particularly popular! People say I’m divisive, but this is the guy raising Republican money to weaken MAGA republicans. 

And the media isn’t on our side either. “The Matt Gaetz Chaos Agenda.” That was the headline from the liberal New Yorker magazine. I must not know what chaos is. Open borders, $34 trillion in debt, two and a half trillion dollar annual national deficits. Your government might label you a domestic violent extremist if you buy guns or Bibles or, heaven forbid, show up at a school board meeting or attend Mass too often. This sounds a hell of a lot more like chaos to me, because your chaos doesn't matter to a lot of the folks working 10 miles from here. Interest rates on credit cards and car loans are skyrocketing. Home ownership, the central thesis of the American Dream to our parents and grandparents, is now a mirage to millennials. They say inflation is down, but the prices are still up. I never thought I’d live to see the day when I spend $11 on a bag of carrots! 

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Chaos for lawmakers is having to write budgets and take tough votes. The chaos they are willing to inflict on your life is changing things for the worse. I actually want orderly things like budgets that balance, single-subject spending bills, term limits, block-grant Medicaid, to drill for oil, export liquified natural gas to anyone willing to buy it in dollars, demand that, I don’t know, if the government wants to spy on Americans, they should have to get a warrant. And we should secure the southern border! Does that sound like chaos? Or the orderly administration of this country that you deserve?

Now Democrats, they believed in these things some point between 20 years and 20 minutes ago. Now they are the party of forever wars abroad, high prices, low T, and reverse racism here at home. And, by the way, speaking of racism, if it is not racist to ask for an ID for a hunting license, or a fishing license, then it is not racist to ask for ID to vote in any election, in any jurisdiction in a free country, the United States of America.

So I’ve noticed there are two plays that House Republicans seem to be really good at running: the punt and the block. And granted, I’ve thrown a few Hail Marys into the playbook, but the punt and the block seem to be what they’re all in on. We blocked the terrible Lankford amnesty bill in the United States Senate, but we punted on needed spending cuts; we blocked Mitch McConnell’s desire to deficit spend to fund the wants of nations oceans away, but we punted on chronically needed reforms to the abuse of the FISA process where Americans were being spied on. We blocked more money to Ukraine for now, and we punted Kevin McCarthy who authorized $115 billion dollars to Ukraine that we now see sloshing around the money-laundering capitals of the world. 

We shouldn’t have any foreign aid to any other country without corresponding cuts to our own bloated federal budget. If you want to send aid to Israel, fine—pay for it by defunding the United Nations. I want the UN to be zeroed out in our budget— the U.S. should be out of the UN and the UN should be out of the U.S.

How about that? How about—take the money away from the entity that had some of their own people attacking and killing Israelis? Seems like a good offset.

I know we’ve heard a lot about Alexei Navalny's death recently—tragic. You should be allowed to oppose the ruling party in your country without risk of poison, or prison, or death. But I would remind everyone, especially the journalists in the back, that Ukraine’s Zelensky imprisoned an American journalist who then died in prison, Gonzalo Lira. Not only that, but Zelensky supports outlawing an entire religion, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. And he just canceled Ukraine’s presidential elections. Now, call me old fashioned, but I actually prefer democracies that hold elections. 

To be clear, Putin is no friend of ours; he partners with adversaries like Iran and is opposed to America’s interests. But realism in our foreign policy means being clear-eyed. It is being anti-war, not anti-American. My goals are clearly defined. Can the neoconservative followers of John Bolton and Liz Cheney and Nikki Haley say the same? And what's really left unsaid in this Ukraine aid debate is that Europe’s fecklessness is a direct result of them becoming national security welfare queens—largely at your expense. 

Our European allies, which consist of some very wealthy nations, underspend on their own defense because they dupe you into paying for much of it. Spain spends less on its military than we do on the Department of the Interior. France spends less money on their military than we do on the Department of Labor. I think they are allergic to labor!

With friends like these, do we really need to be searching behind every sand dune or in every Central Asian cave for more enemies? We went straight from a welfare program for Afghan poppy farmers to this? America is not the world’s police force, and we are not the world’s piggy bank. It is not sustainable. It doesn’t make us stronger to borrow money from China to give to another country. We are saddling future generations with so much debt all while becoming weaker at our core.

Now, Democrats want us to believe that Joe Biden can still be commander in chief in 2029? I’m opening the 2024 vintage of this wine, and I don't think it’s going to get better with age. Joe Biden isn’t getting sharper or stronger or smarter, he is getting older, weaker, and less equipped to lead. Trusting Joe Biden for four more years in the Oval Office is like trusting Dominion to count your votes. It’s a risky bet! We all know it is time to take grandpa’s keys away; he just keeps getting meaner, and weirder about it. What else can explain allowing the world’s prisons to be emptied and sent across our border? Biden is aiding and abetting the invasion of our nation by thugs, Islamic extremists, and Chinese spies.

Think about these: a porous border and unending stream of money supporting a forever war. These are grave, but, man, are there simple solutions, like not sending billions of dollars to corrupt countries, and finishing the wall, and endeavoring on the largest deportation effort in American history.

I now have problems with the Ethics Committee, which seems really odd to me, because I’m the one screaming loudest for actual ethics reforms. Members of Congress should have a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists or registered foreign agents. We should make it impermissible and disallowed by rule for anyone to accept a campaign donation from a lobbyist for a special interest PAC. Their sole purpose is to buy votes. And for the same reason you don’t let the umpire bet on the game, members of Congress should not be allowed to trade individual stocks. How about the Ethics Committee take up those reforms?

Now the Republican Ethics Chairman, Michael Guest, not only voted for the January 6 Commision, he has become a brilliant stock trader while in office. And I admire the obvious genius. He knew exactly the right time to buy online gambling stocks. His purchase in Evolution Gaming Securities netted him a hefty 36 percent gain. Not too shabby. Now, I’m not saying that this is insider trading, but this monetary affair is perhaps the most suspicious I’ve seen since Fani Willis and Nathan Wade. 

So fire your financial advisor, just follow the Quiver Quantitative account on X! You could have bet on the ride up with Republican Michael Guest on gambling stocks! You could have made millions like Nancy Pelosi did on Nvidia, or maybe you’ll get a big return on a Raytheon purchase with Armed Services member and Oklahoma Senator Markwayne Mullin.

See, when I offer these critiques that include the conduct of fellow Republicans, I catch a lot of heat. Don’t get me wrong—I’d prefer to just fight the Democrats, but if the Republicans are gonna dress up like Democrats in drag, then I will lead the fight against them too. 

I’m here to fight for you—it’s the people’s house, after all. Last time I checked, the people hate Congress! We have a lower approval rating than the IRS. So I don’t give a whit if they boo me on the floor, if they hate me in their corrupt little souls, and they can even try to expel me on bullshit if they want, but this is a movement that the uniparty cannot kill. 

They’re trying with President Trump, and even the MSNBC Resistance libs admit that he grows stronger by the day. Well, you know what? In the MAGA movement at CPAC, my friends Matt and Mercedes Schlapp, all of you, we are all growing stronger. And I am the strongest fighting these battles with you in my corner. 

I appreciate your prayers, and your hopes, and your love, and I will never stop fighting for you. God bless you, God bless this great country—let’s go get ‘em!