The Alt-Right Movement Gains Momentum Alongside The Trump Train
What is the alt-right?
The alt-right is setting itself apart from mainstream conservatism in the United States.
This group of real conservatives have been defined as the movement assisting Donald Trump to the top of the Republican presidential ticket. The alt-right has no official ideology, though is loosely joined together by the belief that America should be the first and foremost priority for our politicians and immigration should be curtailed.
It has been described as an "amorphous conservative movement" by Mic, and as "loosely assembled" by The New Yorker. Various sources have described the alt-right as composed of elements of white nationalism, white supremacism, and even anti-semitism.
Jeet Heer of The New Republic viewed the alt-right as a group held together by a collection of far-right wing beliefs, in particular, restricting immigration and supporting a more nationalist foreign policy. This loose collection of mostly conservatives make up much of the strong support for Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
While some conservatives have accepted the alt-right, many others on the Left and Right continue to dismiss the movement as racist, hateful, and bigoted.
David French, writing for National Review, called the alt-right "wanna-be fascists.”
Benjamin Wallace-Wells, writing in The New Yorker, described them as a "loosely assembled far-right movement," saying its differences from the conventional right-wing in American politics are more a matter of style than substance.
Professor George Hawley of the University of Alabama went so far as to suggest that the alt-right may pose a greater threat to progressivism than mainstream conservatism, something barely represented in the current U.S. political system.
Samuel Jared Taylor is an American nationalist who is the the founding editor of American Renaissance, a publication sometimes described as white supremacist. He has been mentioned as an intellectual representative of the alt-right. Taylor would contend that his views on nationality and race are simply “moderate, commonsensical, and fully consistent with the views of most of the great statesmen and presidents of America’s past.” White people have their own racial interests, Taylor believes, and for this reason, they must protect these interests from those who would threaten them (i.e. illegal Mexican workers stealing jobs).
Paul Joseph Watson, longtime reporter at Alex Jones’ controversial site, InfoWars, is another voice for the alt-right. “Culture, controversy, contrarianism” are the words describing Watson’s insightful YouTube channel. His plain talk and dispensing of political correctness is a much more eloquent version of Trump’s lambasting ramblings. He is confrontational in his dialogue and writing, setting a high bar for new age conservative thought in the West.
The alt-right and Breitbart News
In National Review, Ian Tuttle wrote that the alt-right “has evangelized over the last several months primarily via a racist and antisemitic online presence.” But not everyone on the Right shares those sentiments. Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos of Breitbart paint the alt-right as a bunch of “fun-loving provocateurs, valiant defenders of Western civilization, daring intellectuals—and a handful of neo-Nazis keen on a Final Solution 2.0, but there are only a few of them, and nobody likes them anyways." Bokhari and Yiannopoulos think the alt-right should be heard while others dismiss them outright without fully knowing what they’re all about.
Cathy Young, writing in Newsday, called the alt-right “a nest of anti-Semitism” inhabited by "white supremacists" who regularly use “repulsive bigotry.” Chris Hayes on All In with Chris Hayes described alt-right as a euphemistic term for "essentially modern-day white supremacy." These mainstream media critics pick out a small minority of the alt-right in order to depict the group as a set that should not be taken seriously.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Breitbart News has become a popular outlet for alt-right views. This has been borne out over the last few years.
Speaking of Breitbart, the “alternative right” was described in a recent profile piece by the recently mentioned Bokhari and Yiannopoulos. “Young, creative and eager to commit secular heresies, they have become public enemy number one to beltway conservatives — more hated, even, than Democrats or loopy progressives.” The alt-right is a collection of Americans eager to upend the status quo, fed up with the entrenched Republican versus Democrat dichotomy without a difference. Their pointed arguments have garnered criticism from all political stripes which goes to show they are hitting a nerve.
Critics are wrong to insist that only the very worst of our society subscribe to the alt-right’s tenets. There are certain undesirable people under this rickety umbrella, but they are nowhere near representative of the group’s overall goals. They hold loosely united beliefs, but this strand of modern day conservative outreach is nevertheless taking a firm hold.
There are many kinds of conservatives and libertarians drawn to this new movement on the American Right. Bokhari and Yiannopoulos detailed the dizzying demographics of this growing lot. There are the clear headed intellectuals, natural conservatives, unaffiliated tech-savvy Millennials, and racist skinheads that no one wants around.
The alt-right separates itself from these skinheads because they are by and large a very intellectual group. This is likely why much of the Left and the Right hate them so much. Their ideas make so much sense. Almost too much sense. The mainstream media therefore moves to silence them.
But is it racist?
The origins of the alternative right range from H.L. Mencken to Oswald Spengler and Pat Buchanan. The media empire of the modern-day alt-right initially coalesced around Richard Spencer during his editorship of Taki’s Magazine. Spencer founded AlternativeRight.com in 2010, a center of alt-right thought.
Intellectuals such as “isolationists, pro-Russians and ex-Ron Paul supporters frustrated with continued neoconservative domination of the Republican party” were also drawn to the alt-right. This peaceful strand of libertarian-leaning conservatism is growing in the Republican Party, as seen by the alt-right “who are almost as likely as the anti-war left to object to overseas entanglements.”
Natural conservatives take governance and politics very seriously. The conservative instinct, as described by sociologist Jonathan Haidt, includes “a preference for homogeneity over diversity, for stability over change, and for hierarchy and order over radical egalitarianism.” This kind of non-inclusive approach is what the media uses to paint all Republicans as racists and hatemongers. But this doesn’t come from out of thin air and is not at its base, “racist.”
Conservatives have an instinct to be wary of the foreign and the unfamiliar. This is a feeling we all share, deep down, but natural conservatives feel it with more intensity. They prefer familiar societies, norms, and institutions.
Natural conservatives of the alt-right are for maintaining an American identity and not allowing open borders as Obama has been working to install via unilateral executive action. “By the numbers, cheap foreign workers on H1B visas make perfect economic sense. But natural conservatives have other concerns: chiefly, the preservation of their own tribe and its culture.” The U.S. government cannot allow immigration to continue on its current path. Sure, we need some cheap labor now and then, but we do not need to be importing an entire brown underclass while almost 100 million Americans are able to work but not looking at all.
For natural conservatives and many on the alt-right, culture is everything. While economics are important, they are not the be-all-end-all. “The natural conservative tendency within the alt-right points to these apotheoses of western European culture and declares them valuable and worth preserving and protecting.” Alt-righters declare Establishment Republicans as overly-obsessed with the free market, forgetting about the importance of preserving culture amidst growing chaos abroad.
Natural conservatives, unfortunately, have been abandoned by the Republican Party. Having lost faith in their former representatives, they now turn to something different.
Enter Donald J. Trump and the alternative right.
The free market or culture or both?
Since the 1980s, the Republicans have been obsessed over unabashed free market economics and an interventionist foreign policy. In matters of culture and morality, the Left is in charge. Trump’s supporters reflect a dissatisfaction of the last few decades of American governance. The natural conservatives lament the rise of the obsessively politically correct culture alongside a broken immigration system.
“For decades, the concerns of those who cherish western culture have been openly ridiculed and dismissed as racist. The alt-right is the inevitable result. No matter how silly, irrational, tribal or even hateful the Establishment may think the alt-right’s concerns are, they can’t be ignored, because they aren’t going anywhere.” The Left cannot get rid of this group of insightful conservatives. The Right cannot dissociate themselves from them as they will need their support come November.
The young rebels of the alt-right are a subset of Millennials. These people are not drawn to it because of their extremely conservative beliefs. They are actually drawn to it in the same way some of their mothers and fathers were attracted to the New Left in the 1960s. It promises fun, transgression, and an upending of social norms that the rest of the country doesn’t understand.
These young folks have used a barrage of memes and other pop culture references to push the limits on our increasingly liberal and softheaded society. Mass trolling and other online acts are taken to ensure that these young renegades wreak havoc on their fragile opponents on the Left. These Millennials “aren’t necessarily instinctive conservatives. Indeed, their irreverence, lack of respect of social norms, and willingness to stomp on other people’s feelings suggest they may actually be instinctive libertarians.” Young people are drawn to the alt-right because it is something new and fresh. Republicans and Democrats can pound sand.
Unfortunately, the alt-right also draws in some racist and disgusting members. KKK groups and neo-Nazis call themselves followers of the alt-right. Every ideology has followers its leaders wish it didn’t have. This group of people is used to give all of the alt-right a bad name.
Many in the Millennial generation are becoming politically disengaged over today’s toxic political environment. Still, others are standing up to the increasingly undemocratic Left. Liberals claim to stand up for equality and racial justice “while praising acts of racial violence and forcing white people to sit at the back of the bus (or, more accurately, the back of the campus — or in another campus altogether).” This is an uphill battle against political correctness because most of the media and educational system is on the other side.
The radicals of the alt-right want to push their solution to segment populations off by race and culture. These essentially racist individuals want their own communities, populated by their own people, and governed by their own values. But this is not America.
The right choice for America
Sure, we have the right to self governance, but we must be realistic. The Establishment is in charge for now, but with the rise of Donald Trump, the elites are slowly losing their grip on power. The alt-right’s sometimes controversial ideas should be considered, yet the media and the Left continue to discount this movement as a rabble of racists who simply want no more immigration.
The alt-right philosophy, like Donald Trump, is not going away. At least not yet. Trump’s policies have been influenced by bomb-chucking Breitbart’s Steve Bannon. This has forced Hillary Clinton to directly address Trump and “the disturbing ‘alt-right’ political philosophy” later in Nevada today, according to an aide. This same aide also said that the alt-right is “embracing extremism and presenting a divisive and dystopian view of America which should concern all Americans, regardless of party.” Clinton will no doubt present her image for the country. One that includes all Americans, no matter their desire to be free or live in America. Liberals pursue diversity for its own sake, refusing to confront the reality that a clashing of cultures can be controversial and even detrimental for a society.
Germany, France, and Great Britain are dealing with this deadly reality right now in the midst of the Syrian refugee crisis spilling into Europe.
Bannon, of Breitbart fame, has become Chief Executive Officer of the Trump team. His running of the conservative news site distinguished himself from the rest of conservative media in the same way the alt-right does with mainstream conservatism. Bannon’s Breitbart has become a mouthpiece for Trump over the past year-plus. Critics call it a periodical for older white males. Bannon embraces the alt-right movement which has greatly helped his brand catapult to prominence.
With the rise of the Tea Party in 2010 as a result of Bush’s big government conservatism and Obama’s irreverent liberalism, activist conservative sites thrived. Breitbart would become the Tea Party’s #1 cheerleader, promoting beliefs in a more marketable way to the indifferent Millennial generation.
After the death of Andrew Breitbart in 2012, Bannon would take Breitbart News to the top. It would become “not only the most-read conservative web outlet but also the most incendiary one,” wrote Will Rahn in a CBS News primer on the alt-right. It would set aside all appearance of objectivity, instead trumpeting conservative narratives through heroically portrayed characters. Always pitting itself against an insurmountable political/media machine, Breitbart would take alt-right conservatism to an almost ridiculous level.
Donald Trump embraced this form of in-your-face conservatism. His candidacy was not taken seriously by most mainstream news sources, yet here we are, facing essentially a 50-50 chance of a Trump presidency. But Bannon’s Breitbart would realize that “Trump-style white identity politics wasn’t a passing fad,” Rahn noted. Trump and his campaign tapped into this online community of mostly white Americans. He has called this the “silent majority,” a possibly sizable chunk of the public out there that has been so put off by the political system that they have not participated in decades. Trump could bring these folks out and into the experiment that is our system of republican government.
The Donald’s decision to bring on Bannon and new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway in recent days signals his strategy of doubling down on his derisive style that got him to this point. Many think that will simply not translate to the general election, as revealed by recent polling showing Mrs. Clinton with a sizable lead nationwide. Still, polls are already popping up showing the race tightening after the chaotic period of time following each party’s convention.
Bannon’s appointment to the Trump train was heralded as a bold move by alt-right members. Breitbart has been bringing alt-right ideas into the mainstream in similar ways that National Review did for full-fledged conservatism in the days leading up to the Reagan presidency.
Now we will see if Breitbart and alt-right conservative thought have the same impact for ushering in a Trump administration.