Gavin Mario Wax in front of red American flag red abstract background

Olga Moonlight/Shutterstock Gavin Mario Wax/Facebook (Licensed) Remix by Caterina Cox

How the New York Young Republicans alienated the Big Apple—but took over the far-right youth movement

Before he took over the New York Young Republicans, Gavin Wax platformed the far-right's most odious voices


Amanda Moore


Posted on May 12, 2023   Updated on Aug 31, 2023, 7:55 am CDT

Earlier this month, in Budapest, New York Young Republican Club President Gavin Wax gave a speech at CPAC Hungary expressing his admiration for Viktor Orban—and his discontent with America.

Briefly glancing up from his notes, Wax told the audience, “American conservatism is dead. Its corpse is rotting and putrid.

The line was intentionally incendiary and dramatic, full of potential to go viral. Naturally, this was the part of his speech that Wax chose to post on Twitter. 

Who is Gavin Wax?

Wax has been the president of the New York Young Republican Club (NYYRC) since 2019, when he helped lead a MAGA-style takeover of the previously moderate organization. His language at CPAC Hungary is par for the course—under his leadership, NYYRC has become the most notorious club within the entire Young Republican National Federation (YRNF). 

Wax spends much of his time on Twitter, attacking people he disagrees with—which primarily consists of those on the right who don’t support his exact brand of national populism. 

Past targets include current YRNF Chair Rick Loughery, who Wax considers a RINO (Republican in Name Only); former YRNF Chair Jason Emert, who supports Ukraine; conservative commentator and former NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, who disagreed with Wax’s assessment that American conservatism is dead; Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), who has criticized the current national populist movement; the entire Kings County GOP, which run non-populist candidates Wax does not like; and conservative commentator and author Jonah Goldberg, who called a recent NYYRC statement “moronic and monstrous.”

William F. B. O’Reilly, a longtime Republican strategist from New York, said before Wax took over NYYRC, the club was a moderate group of friendly young adults who would help canvass for local races. Now, the club is largely alienated from the politics of the city it sits in; mentions of the organization are met with dismissive eye rolls by many in the Republican Party. NYYRC is no longer considered a reliable tool in helping Republicans win local elections, but an attention-seeking hindrance many wish would go away. 

While Wax might have made NYYRC a pariah in local politics, that isn’t his problem. 

Wax has become one of the most recognizable Young Republicans in the country. Stories mentioning his name and club can be found in the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Daily Beast, and Politico. He parties with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and members of Germany’s far-right. He has garnered 60,000 Twitter followers, and he has twice been flown to Budapest to deliver speeches praising the Hungarian government. His behavior during his tenure as NYYRC president has objectively been great for his own personal brand. 

But just as his leadership has caused problems in local politics, NYYRC’s reputation and credibility within YRNF have suffered under Wax. 

“NYC is certainly amongst the best administered and most vocal and visible clubs in the country,” said one senior YRNF source. “Unfortunately, NYC is held back by leadership who confuse being conservatives with being assholes.”  

Nevertheless, there is an appeal to being viewed as the cool kids, especially within an organization whose membership includes people as young as 18. Where is the fun in being a moderate Republican without controversy when you can be a scandal-laden Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.)? Who wants to tweet with decorum to 100 followers when you can sling insults at everyone you disagree with, wracking up tens of thousands?

Earlier this year, the D.C. Young Republicans voted in leadership that mimics the NYYRC model. Now George Santos attends its events and its Twitter seems to primarily exist to lob insults at everyone who crosses them. 

One source familiar with the D.C. Republican scene said all the staffers and ‘adult’ GOP members they know are staying away from the D.C. YRs—“which tells you how useful they are pursuing good policy.”

The NYYRC model might be appealing to those who seek out personal fame over effective leadership, but it’s driving away anyone who finds the bullying repulsive. 

Still, other YRNF chapters teeter on the brink, in danger of succumbing to cults of personality for the chance to rub shoulders with foreign extremists and worship former president Donald Trump.

Wax’s rise to prominence is worrying, especially given how practiced he is in using social media virality and inflammatory takes to push a starkly far-right ideological agenda. 

In 2014, Wax founded a blog called Liberty Conservative (LC), of which he was editor-in-chief. Originally, the website was home to a forum, inspired by the Ron Paul Forums many on the masthead frequented (until they were banned for edgelord shitposting). 

“I’m kind of a Ron Paul generation type of guy. He kind of got me inspired with his first run, and then it kind of grew from there,” Wax explained in a now-deleted episode of the Lions of Liberty podcast in June 2016. “Since maybe [2008], it’s been liberty and libertarian ideas.”

Wax quickly found the forum a dying relic of internet culture and changed the website into, as he described it, an online libertarian magazine.

“As far as the name choice, ‘conservative,’ we definitely believe in a big camp movement. We believe in the political process, we believe in advancing the ideas of libertarianism, of classical liberalism, through the GOP, through conservative circles … the name enables us to reach a broader audience,” Wax told the Lions host. 

Despite his stated commitment to libertarianism, Wax would be completely all in for Trump by November 2016. 

However, Wax does appear to have been sincere about the idea of LC being a big tent; just a tent that opened up his platform to an array of voices as far-right as possible.

Before his rise to fame, podcaster and YouTuber James Allsup was president of the College Republicans at Washington State University. He stepped down from the position after participating in the Unite the Right rally and formed a media company with pro-Hitler white nationalist Nick Fuentes. Independently, Allsup amassed 450,000 YouTube followers on his own channel, receiving millions of views on his videos every month before his channel was suspended in 2019. Allsup also joined Identity Evropa, then one of the most active white nationalist organizations in the United States. After losing his YouTube channel, he would go on to cohost the Fash the Nation podcast, which counts Christopher Cantwell and Richard Spencer as prior guests.

But before Allsup had his own brand, he was platformed by Wax. Under Wax’s leadership, Allsup penned pieces with titles like “No Exceptions: All Illegal Aliens Must be Physically Removed.” His first podcast, Campus Report, was hosted by LC in 2016—and while LC claims that publication isn’t an endorsement, Wax himself appeared on Allsup’s show. 

While Allsup was the most well-known figure contributing to LC, he wasn’t the only one writing offensive content for the outlet. In a now-deleted article titled “Male Taxpayers Are Literally Rape Survivors,” another writer argued that “there is nothing inherently traumatic about a foreign object being inserted in the vagina. Women insert tampons in there several times a month … We punish rape for psychological reasons. Women who experience rape experience a loss of perceived autonomy over their reproductive outcomes … In conclusion, by taking a chunk of men’s market value, the government rapes men.”

Advice to Future Spree Shooters,” another now-deleted article found on LC, offers advice to future mass shooters. “And so, for the aspiring shooters that are fans of mine (and I imagine there’s more than a few!), allow me to suggest a few places for you to commit your rampage,” the author wrote. “As a general rule, these are places that might actually benefit society by being massacred.” 

The author’s suggestions included newsrooms and the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

Yet another now-deleted article, “Libertarians And The Alt-Right: Brothers In Arms Toward Leftist Destruction,” was published in December 2016 by Shane Trejo. Trejo, who currently serves as Michigan’s 11th District Republican Committee chairman, implored libertarians to accept the alt-right, the far-right movement that coalesced around Trump and his white grievance politics. “The totalitarian leftist threat marches forward on a grand scale … it seems very silly that libertarians are so enraged at the alt-right because they occasionally go a little overboard with their trolling escapades.” 

LC’s 2016 shift to the right, especially the addition of Allsup, caused internal problems. “There was a purge of those who weren’t in lockstep with LC’s site transition from Ron Paulist libertarianism to alt-white absurdity,” explained one early LC contributor. “Some Jewish contributors raised objections to the blatant antisemitism on display.” 

Several former LC contributors named Trejo and Allsup as the most problematic. One explained that as a Christian who believes “all people are created in God’s image and are equal in worth, dignity, and value,” they “could not continue to be affiliated with a publication that legitimized or defended racism.” 

Another said they were only surprised that it has taken so long for a journalist to contact them about Liberty Conservative, Wax, and Trejo. 

Even after Allsup left at the end of 2016, Wax’s site continued its embrace of the far-right.

In the summer of 2017, Trejo wrote a now-deleted piece titled “Cucked By The ADL: Gavin McInnes Institutes Thought Control On His ‘Proud Boys.’” 

Trejo complained that while the Proud Boys Facebook group “used to be guys posting about women, beer, dirty jokes, and anti-liberal politics,” it was now full of petty in-fighting over whether members should associate with the alt-right.

“As a Proud Boy myself, I don’t want to slam the door shut completely on this organization,” Trejo clarified in the midst of his grievances. (Trejo, who is the executive director of a PAC that accuses the Republican party of being “too moderate,” has not publicly admitted to being a Proud Boy outside of this one deleted article.)

Wax’s own writing on LC was sparse, but still used dog whistles that were popular with the alt-right at the time. In December 2016, Wax wrote an article “Help Wanted: Cultural Enrichment.” 

“Cultural enrichment” was often used to refer to crimes, especially violent crime, committed by minorities or immigrants. The far-right’s use of the phrase was a play on the liberal idea of cultures meshing together; the implication was that violent crime is the “enrichment” that immigrants bring. In the piece, which remains up on LC’s website, Wax used the phrase to describe the rape and drowning of a German woman, potentially done by an immigrant from Afghanistan. 

Controversy around LC broke into the mainstream after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. Allsup’s name was quickly associated with Unite the Right and a 2016 article of his titled “If You Call The Alt-Right ‘Nazi White Supremacists,’ You’re Wrong” drew attention. In the article, Allsup argued for “race realism,” a baseless pseudoscience often used as justification for bigoted beliefs by those on the alt-right. Google threatened to terminate LC’s AdSense account if they didn’t pull the article, and LC was forced to take it down. 

The public rage for Allsup’s piece doesn’t seem to have applied to the rest of LC. In an article published in the days after Unite the Right, Trejo gave advice for next time. “Perhaps dialing it back a bit, and doing more to make sure that literal Nazis and KKK members aren’t put center stage moving forward would be a wise path to take.”

Wax stepped down as EIC of Liberty Conservative in the summer of 2018, though he was not done trolling—he was simply moving things offline. Months after Wax left LC, friends of his invited Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes to speak at the Metropolitan Republican Club; when violence broke out at the event, Wax wrote a piece opining that “we are all Proud Boys now.” 

In April 2019, Wax was elected president of the NYYRC. In the time since, Wax has brought a social aspect to the organization, regularly hosting happy hours to bring members together. 

The club has also hosted a viewing party of Hunter Biden’s sex tape (complete with parmesan cheese, a nod to Biden’s claim he smoked the cheese because it resembled crack), held a maskless gala during COVID in 2020, and invited Michelle Malkin, an outspoken fan of Fuentes, to the club for a book signing.

Despite his actions as NYYRC President and a decade’s worth of internet history available for anyone who looks, Wax has faced little backlash from his connections to extremism. According to NYYRC, Wax was “re-elected unanimously twice in December 2020 and December 2022.” 

And there is no reason to think Gavin Wax is in danger of losing his position any time soon, especially as other Young Republicans follow his model.

As of August 2023, Gavin Wax is still in charge.

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*First Published: May 12, 2023, 8:48 am CDT