Unlike “Conservatism,” the “alt-right” has a natural constituency beyond billionaire donors
You probably lost your ability to be shocked by the time a man whose only political credential was demanding the first black president’s ID won his first Republican presidential primary.
But we have to take a moment to register some outrage over a moment that will go down in history — way down in history.
The white nationalist “alt-right” has surrendered its unofficial role as Trump campaign’s unofficial muse and meme factory and officially taken over the Trump campaign in the form of Breitbart.com’s publisher Steve Bannon.
“The alt-right sees limited-government constitutionalism as passé; it holds that only nationalist populism on the basis of shared tribal identity can save the country,” writes former Breitbart editor and anti-“alt right” conservative Ben Shapiro. “It’s a movement shot through with racism and anti-Semitism.”
A Bannon-helmed campaign will allow Trump to be himself because apparently that’s been Trump’s big problem — not enough Trumping.
“Huge rallies,” The Washington Post’s Robert Costa tweeted. “Gloves off. Brutal fights with Clinton. Heavy emphasis on nationalism and populism. That’s the Bannon strategy.”
So everything that was terrifying about the Trump campaign to minorities, women and college-educated adults but in BREITBART’S TRADEMARKED ALL-CAPS HEADLINES.
“True” Conservatives like Shapiro are terrified by the “alt-right” because they see it as biker running off with their sweet sister of a party. But there is a deeper fear that’s barely evident in the worried ranting the GOP establishment has been effusively spraying out in its numerous failed attempts to stop Trump.
Some have compared Trump’s decision to surround himself with the most boorish figures on the right to a sort of hospice care for his dying campaign. But what it actually reveals is something even more disturbing for America.
Unlike “Conservatism,” the “alt-right” has an natural constituency beyond billionaire donors.
George Mason University public policy professor Justin Gest has found that 65 percent of white Americans would consider joining a “nativist” party that represents most of Trump’s anti-immigration, anti-trade “America First” rhetoric.
That’s more than the 59 percent of the white vote that Mitt Romney won in 2012, which was more than 56 percent of the white vote Ronald Reagan won in 1980. Trump needs to improve on Romney’s margin with white voters by 5 percent, estimates FiveThirtyEight‘s Harry Enten, to have any chance to win in 2016.
Ans apparently he decided going the Bannon/Breitbart way is the only way to do it.
To give Trump some credit, he’s tried the Romney path.
His latest economic proposals all but photocopied Paul Ryan’s billionaire bucket list of huge tax cuts for the richest, their corporations and their heirs. You also have the trademarked promise to freeze all regulations on everything ever.
This is “You did build that!” economics that appeals almost exclusively to business owners. Romney used it to lose the white working class in the Rust Belt states Trump now claims will be his path to success.
Embracing Romney/Ryan’s platform along with his protectionist spins on trade and immigration has led Trump to polls that suggest the biggest electoral college landslide since the 1980s.
What’s most remarkable about this is not that Conservatives are finally being bitten by the karma of exploiting thinly veiled white identity politics for decades. What’s most remarkable is how close the party’s billionaire donors came to utilizing those tactics before they destroyed an effort more than fifty years in the making.
Republicans actually had a better than decent chance to win this election and add the presidency to their historically large majorities in the House of Representatives and state legislatures. The combination of a Republican in the White House and a GOP-controlled Senate could have easily led to a dominating conservative majority on the Supreme Court that could have easily achieved the right wing dream of overturning Roe v. Wade and then headed into undoing much of the Great Society and New Deal.
All the party had to do was build on Romney’s strong share of the white vote by attracting a marginally larger share of the minority vote. This would have been possible with a handsome Cuban-American known for occasionally backing his own immigration reform bill and it’s almost impossible with a birther.
Trump is not only hemorrhaging minority voters. He’s losing college-educated white voters and white women in general — something no Republican has done in generations.
The GOP is now effectively torn between Republicans who think Trump is a terrible racist and those who think he’s a wonderful racist — or tribalist or nationalist or nativist, whatever the politically correct word for white supremacist is these days.
There were 16 candidates who represented conventional conservatism in the GOP primary and all of them fell to Trump.
Those 14 million voters who backed Trump were fewer in number than than 16 million who opposed him.But that’s plenty to keep the Republican Party enthralled to a movement obsessed with making sure whites in America aren’t just another large minority — especially if it’s the seed of an “alt” conservative news channel.
Republicans have proven that they are either incapable or insufficiently interested in eliminating the poison of racial resentment from their party. Whether or not Trump wins, one of our two major parties will remain at least somewhat captive to a movement that insists maintaining the spoils of white majoritarianism.
The GOP nominating a birther seemed unimaginable to most Americans just a few years ago. What comes next could be much worse.