By: Cameron Keegan
The year was 2017. Many of us might recall a particular political climate. For one 18-year-old college student of Political Science and an outspoken supporter of the Donald, he streamed a new show to a small group of fans from his classmate’s dorm room at Boston University. The title: “America First”.
Fast forward five years. Nicholas Joseph Fuentes, who left college after at least one semester, now averages 7,000 viewers per show on his own streaming platform 5 days a week, and boasts 180,000 follower accounts on social media and messaging platforms popular with sympathizers of right-wing ideologies.
Fuentes has also been featured in a British television documentary about America’s rising internet-savvy conservative commentators. In addition, as the America First Foundation President, he hosted the third annual America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) in late February of this year. With admission starting at $150, this event packed over 1,200 attendees. AFPAC hailed speakers from various factions of the Republican party, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Rep. Paul Gosar, Sen. Wendy Rodgers, and Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin.
Indeed, Nick has achieved remarkable success despite being reportedly banned from popular payment and e-commerce systems, including but not limited to Paypal, Shopify, Patreon and Veneo, and having his show dropped from popular video streaming platforms including Twitch, DLive, Facebook, Discord, YouTube and Instagram.
Some suspicious detractors have speculated that Fuentes is a government agent employed to exasperate infighting and division between right-wing nationalists. One should know that this article makes the sweeping assumption that Mr Fuentes isn’t an implanted agent and is, in fact, a young man from the suburbs of Chicago who chose to enter political activism dissenting from the perceived controlled opposition of mainstream conservative dogma.
Who are Nick Fuentes’ supporters?
Fuentes’ base is predominantly male, Generation Z, and many self-identify as Christian. Their questions to Nick and comments on the social media platform, Gab, demonstrates a blunt communication style, particularly on issues around race and gender. In contrast, many Americans with a conservative disposition might not harbor such views and, if so, would prefer to keep them as a private matter.
Many of Fuentes’ vocal critics claim that he is a grifter with no political influence towards changing voter-fraud and immigration policies. On a different note, many of Fuentes’ supporters, known as “groypers”, are drawn to the promotion of “White identity” and “our people” in an America they believe is losing its European demographics and increasingly hostile towards White people and views that align with the Christian faith. Furthermore, Fuentes’ animated and charismatically boyish personality, infused with his coverage of current affairs and geopolitics of the United States, is highly captivating, educational, and equally entertaining for many loyal groypers.
(And to clarify, a groyper is based on the “Pepe the Frog” internet meme that is popular on message boards like 4Chan).
A natural entrepreneur?
Fuentes clearly possesses several characteristics of a successful entrepreneur in, firstly, “selling” his vision of America to a generation of young men, as a nation with a revived Christian ethos and the idea of the traditional nuclear family. Moreover, he perseveres despite multiple setbacks in the logistics of business growth, exhibits the ability to manage personal and professional criticism from opponents across the entire political spectrum, and plans ahead for each annual AFPAC with a dedicated fan base growing in multiple folds.
In June 2021, the federal government’s introduction of a “national strategy for countering domestic terrorism” triggered many conservatives to accuse the Biden administration of attacking their 1st amendment right and civil liberties. Suppose a personality such as Nicholas J. Fuentes is perceived as potentially extreme and probably influential given his credible following. In that case, one might conclude that his professional work could be actively and overtly repressed through federal enforcement.
Unlike many entrepreneurs who tackle the hurdle of their first sale and sustaining business growth, Fuentes reportedly faces travel restrictions and other problems that would bring most businesses to a premature halt. In late April 2021, Nick claimed to have been barred from using several payment processors to meet in-demand merchandise sales and placed on a federal “no-fly list”, preventing him from flying domestic and international. In addition, he was subpoenaed by the Select Committee in January 2021 after attending the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington DC in the previous year, where thousands gathered to protest the national election results. Later, Nick seemingly implied that he had invoked his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination by reading from a written piece during one of his shows.
Perspectives on race and immigration
Fuentes never ceases to talk about friends and steamers on his platform who happen to be Black or perceived as non-White, not to mention his love of Kanye West’s music. He welcomes American patriots or nationalists of all races and ethnicities, particularly if they profess a Christian ethos and respect that a significant aspect of the “America First” movement involves promoting the interest of and protecting its “White demographic core”.
The 23-year-old outspoken commentator takes a hard stance on Black criminal behaviour, making comments often with a twinkle in his eye that, to many listeners outside his fan base, would paint a profoundly negative stereotype of Black males:
You know [as a kid], I just liked to be funny and edgy and the kind of mischief that White boys get into, you know, particularly it is sort of a White boy thing phenomena…Black boy mischief is like stealing cars. Black male mischief is like, what if we killed a bunch of people or what if we form a gang and started stealing peoples’ money and then we did a bunch of drugs… That’s not all the Blacks, we have some fine young Blacks [on my streaming platform], it’s somewhat diverse….It is a distinctly White boy phenomenon that’s like, you know, let’s skateboard on the handrail; you know, let’s freaking go on a panty raid, let’s go sneak into the pool after hours. You know, that kind of thing.
Fuentes also focuses on the changing demographics by non-White legal or illegal immigrants, particularly but not only from Central and South American countries. He pointed out during his second annual AFPAC speech that the Constitution and “these liberal enlightenment values” alone does not define America:
America is one people, one nation on this continent forged over hundreds of years by shared experiences, descended from an English cultural framework and influenced by European civilizations… So if it [America] loses its White demographic core and if it loses its faith in Jesus Christ, then this is not America anymore.
Mr Fuentes’ army of vocal groypers have posted opinionated views about moral and ideological incompatibility believed to be brought about by inherent racial differences, and demanded the mass deportation of “third world people”. Objectively speaking, many conservatives in polite society might find this kind of language, at best, rough and, at worst, vulgar.
The saving grace
For those familiar with the political systems of China or Russia, it might be fair to say that their version of Nicholas J. Fuentes, who openly criticizes the establishment or “regime”, would, or, rather, wouldn’t be around for too long. Therefore, unlike China and Russia, the American nation–the American project–is founded on the social contract of the Constitution. In essence, it is a testament to the framework of the Republic that, by in large, provides the opportunity to create a prosperous business, and in this case, despite adversity from centralized power structures that might perceive the business as a threat to national security or “American democracy”.
Without the 1st Amendment right enshrined in the Constitution, it would be extremely challenging to create a right-wing politics show in the 21st century, heavily criticizing the federal government, election results and perceived influential lobbying institutions. Furthermore, the 5th Amendment right provides a broad range of protections to anyone facing criminal prosecution, including the right not to be compelled to be a witness against themself.
Like most entrepreneurial mindsets with an unwavering vision, Nick Fuentes eventually overcomes professional obstacles and pushes his business forward. Putting aside the strong opinions that Fuentes evokes across both sides of the political aisle, this 23-year-old content creator continues to promote his movement with the backing of a hundred interns, through an independent streaming platform, “cozy.tv”.
Rest of America, you may want to pay attention
Still, nobody said it would ever be easy, especially given Nick’s industry of choice. So here is a reminder to those aiming to vaporize Fuentes’ career and a nudge to those who openly condemn his outspoken views: this young businessman attracts thousands of viewers per show and most likely capped the AFPAC attendance due to the hotel venue’s capacity. Perhaps the larger American public, particularly business owners, parents and educators, might wish to learn about growing enthusiastic support for a generation of activists. It might be argued that America, as a fundamentally capitalist nation, and the excellence of the Constitution, provides a saving grace to political dissidents because, many a time, their rise and popularity reflects a pre-existing demand, albeit not absolute. In essence, Nicholas J. Fuentes has captured the attention of a subset of young men, particularly among Generation Z, with predisposed sentiments around many issues in 21st century America that is deeply connected to their identity and sense of belonging, and their desire to win at life.
Cameron Keegan is an independent researcher interested in American politics, faith and culture affecting post-Millennials, and has previously worked with children and young adults to support their learning and development. To learn more, visit https://ckeeganan.substack.com/about and for questions, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.