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The Alt-Right Movement Gains Momentum Alongside The Trump Train

Updated on August 28, 2016
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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.

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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.

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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.

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    • profile image

      Sanxuary 8 months ago

      I never said you did anything. The point is we have come a long ways from being a nation of racist and moving backwards is not going to happen.

    • RachaelLefler profile image

      Rachael Lefler 12 months ago from Illinois

      "You forced the Indians on to reservations" Uh no, we actually didn't do that. Don't blame people for things their ancestors did. That's um, racist.

    • profile image

      Sanxuary 12 months ago

      When you decide your base to side with something, is decided by hate politics then ignorance is bliss. The problem was created by whites who first wanted slaves then cheap labor. So now you want to get rid of the problem that you created and do this and not be labeled a hypocrite and a racist. I ponder dumb people who think this country is made up of one race when it was a nation of immigrants. You forced the Indians on to reservations and demand a pipeline goes through what was left of their country. You sit around drinking your latte and hope the crap hits the fan because you are a gun owner. You pretend to defend the constitution but do not defend the individual rights of people. If you can not even do that, then you will have no rights either. Most of all you are unconcerned just how bad things can get. The protest here easily disrupted life and just wait until we all have a reason to protest. Just wait until the crap really hits the fan to find out how unprepared you really are. When your cheap labor has better things to do with their time. When the lights go out and the television that played to your hatred of others goes out. When your out of shape fat butts are afraid to go anywhere in America. When there is no tolerance left the small things of today will seem meaningless. If you our hoping for a civil war you our as close as you will ever get to having the freedom to be a racist. Being a racist is a minority belief and one that will die quickly in a nation that can not tolerate there liberty's being stolen by hate.

    • Dont Taze Me Bro profile image

      Banned cause of pissants promisem and deantraylor 15 months ago from TWO OF THE MANY LYING LIB CRYBABIES OF HUB PAGES

      Rachael, you are a a breath of fresh air in the land of hub pages, otherwise known as the rock under which liberals are often found living.

    • RachaelLefler profile image

      Rachael Lefler 15 months ago from Illinois

      "But is it racist?"

      "Racist", I find is so commonly used to shut down and silence and bully. The label has no meaning and is just used to mean "you disagreed with a liberal or mocked liberal ideas" to make all such people seem like bad people. We live in a country that is very tolerant and treats minority groups much better than in literally any other country on the planet. That's why the mere cry of "thass rayciss" can basically shut down someone's entire career and turn the mob against someone. It's just a bullying tactic.

      And I'm sick of the hypocrisy and double standards involved where anyone can be proud of their race or country and it's totally fine, unless they are a white person, proud to be white, and they are proud of America or a European country.

    • Dont Taze Me Bro profile image

      Banned cause of pissants promisem and deantraylor 15 months ago from TWO OF THE MANY LYING LIB CRYBABIES OF HUB PAGES

      Why do you label me angry? I didn't say anything angry, even used a smiley in my first comment. I'm not angry just asked a question and got no answer so asked again.

      Really, you need to label me so you u have some excuse not to answer my question?

      I don't know of any "real experienced political ops" on the right who have won anything, evidently neither do you :)

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 15 months ago from Auburn, WA

      Taze, I thought your question was rhetorical. Why so angry? Hanging around with Brad Masters?

      Bobby, I don't see the polls evening out. He's down almost 10 points in PA. He closed his operation down in NJ. In Ohio, the polling deficit is now over 4%. He went 1% i FL this morning. But going into election day he needs to be more than even in all those states. NC and Colorado are almost lost now too. It's sad. We still don't know if his softening on immigration will cost him more voters.

      Wish you guys luck. Hate to see people with passion for the process get burned. 75 days to turn it around.

    • Bobby Shanahan profile image
      Author

      Robert Carbery 15 months ago from Seattle, WA

      Conway and Bannon are both very experienced political communicators and experts in messaging. I would say they are experienced political operatives, but not the ones most politicians bring on. I think Trump was right to double down on what got him to this point. Choosing Conway and Bannon is daring, but bold. Manafort was softening Trump’s rhetoric and his dealings with the Ukrainians are more than a little shady. Rove at this point is a little crazy for my taste. He seems off his rocker especially after his freakout on FoxNews on election night between Romney and Obama. The polls are already evening out, showing that HRC’s email scandal is finally hurting her and Trump is finally digging himself out of the post-convention hole he dug for himself.

    • Dont Taze Me Bro profile image

      Banned cause of pissants promisem and deantraylor 15 months ago from TWO OF THE MANY LYING LIB CRYBABIES OF HUB PAGES

      Why haven't you haven't answered my question (aside from Rove whom I brought up)?

      Considering the fact that Republicans everywhere are not very fond of Bush and where his presidency led us I doubt that hiring Karl Rove would be a very good PR move and would give the media red meat for revisiting the failures of the Bush administration. Aside from Bush and Rumsfeld no one has been more villainized by liberals AND the Media than Karl Rove.

      Really who are these "real experienced political ops"? Experienced in what, losing?

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 15 months ago from Auburn, WA

      Taze, Trump is losing badly because he got suckered into media missteps week after week since August 1. Why? The Dems laid a trap, he fell in. Every time. His overrated children couldn't help him. His wife has disappeared. And now, he's on his third campaign manager. The guy is a mess.

      Knock Karl Rove all you want. But he got Bush elected twice and W is not exactly the sharpest knife in the draw. He also has more election victories than Lewandowski, Manafort and Bannon combined. Romney and McCain have done more for their country than Trump ever will.

      What are you guys going to say if Trump loses in historic fashion? What are you going to blame it on? The media? Should have known better. Trump's implosion took a while. But it's here. I feel bad for you guys because his is letting you down.

    • Dont Taze Me Bro profile image

      Banned cause of pissants promisem and deantraylor 15 months ago from TWO OF THE MANY LYING LIB CRYBABIES OF HUB PAGES

      Lions, "real experienced political ops"?

      You mean like the ones who helped McCain lose in 08 and Romney in 2012? Name one "political op" for the right who has won anything for the Republicans since George Bush in 2000 and 2004. Are you saying he should hire Karl Rove? Please....:)

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 15 months ago from Auburn, WA

      Trump should have hired Conway and had real experienced political ops in his corner by the end of the primaries. The open primary system in many states helped Trump. But it's too late now. Bannon will only hurt him. He needs to tone down the rhetoric, not increase it.

      I just hope we don't lose states like NC and Georgia. It appears we will lose a Senate seat in NC. He is dragging everyone down.