Donald Trump’s announcement of his new campaign team completes the process of bringing white supremacists and white nationalists from the extreme fringe into the mainstream of American conservatism and the GOP, which began when Donald Trump started his campaign.
If establishment Republicans were hoping to finally make their candidate see reason, and halt his spiral into electoral oblivion, by finally executing a “pivot” away from his primaries persona, and towards less incendiary, more nuanced general election rhetoric, they were sorely disappointed. It turns out the mercurial, racist, xenophobic, wannabe fascist that enthralled GOP voters was not a facade, behind which waited the “real” Donald Trump, waiting to be revealed to the general electorate. What we saw in the primaries is what the Republicans got for the general election.
Not that they didn’t try. Trump’s family and closest confidants sat him down and pleaded with him — right after he fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski — to stop his stream-of-unconsciousness style of speechifying and look at the damn teleprompter. They begged him to stop antics like his attack on a Hispanic federal judge.
Trump bowed, then. But by now we all know it didn’t take, because Trump isn’t that guy. He’s the guy who hints that his supporters should engage in racial profiling and intimidation at the polls.” He’s the guy who claims that his opponent and the sitting president “founded ISIS.” He’s the guy who invites a foreign country to engage in cyber espionage against the US. He’s the guy who suggests that the “Second Amendment people” might do something about Hillary Clinton’s Supreme Court picks.
Trump knows a few things. He knows this is all he can do, and he knows that his base loves it. Gallup just released a survey that shows that race and racism have a lot to do with who supports Trump. They’re mostly angry white guys with chips on their shoulders, convinced by Fox News and other conservative media that “outsiders” are stripping them of their long held power, and usurping all that’s rightfully theirs. The problem for Trump’s campaign is that there’s probably not enough of them to elect him.
Trump may not have started out knowing this winning formula, but from the moment he He knows they want more. That’s why Trump is taking things up a notch by hiring Brietbart News CEO Stephen Bannon as his campaign’s new chief executive and promoting pollster Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager. Hiring Bannon merely makes official a relationship that’s been plainly obvious for a while. Over at Breitbart News, Bannon has been essentially running the propaganda wing of the Trump campaign, ever since he sold out one of his own reporters in favor of the Trump campaign.
Bannon’s history on the far-right fringe goes all the way back to the first Clinton to run for president. He became editor of Breitbart following the death of founder Andrew Breitbart, and enforced a mandate of pro-Trump coverage. He’s also produced a number of far-right documentaries, including: the Sara Palin documentary, Undefeated; the 2010 Michele Bachmann documentary From the Heartland; Occupy Unmasked; and Hope and Change.
Some fellow conservatives and some of Bannon’s former employees have some interesting things to say about Bannon.
- Conservative commentator Dana Loesch, who sued Breitbart in 2012, said, “… I Will say that one of the worst, most hellacious years of my life involved this individual. … All I know is that one of the most people on God’s green earth was just instituted as chairman do f the Trump campaign.”
- Former Breitbart News spokesman Kurt Bardella said, “It signals a dangerous, even more so, combative and divisive turn. It’s an indication that this campaign, as negative as it has been, is going to be even more so going forward.”
- Former Breitbart editor-at large Ben Stein wrote that Bannon stoked white nationalism at the site: “Breitbart has become the alt-right go-to website, with Yiannopoulos pushing white ethno-nationalism as a legitimate response to political correctness, and the comment section turning into a cesspool for white supremacist mememakers.”
Stein has a point. Hatewatch reported in April that Breitbart was serving at the media arm of the “alt-right” movement, known for an antipathy towards mainstream conservatism that burns almost as white hot as its opposition to multiculturalism and immigration. Though the movement has no official ideology, it’s heavily associated with white supremacists, white nationalism, antisemitism, and right-wing populism.
From the start, Trump appealed to white supremacists and white nationalists so much that organizations and individuals known for steering clear of nations politics entered the fray, encouraged by Trump’s rhetoric and GOP primary voter’s response to it. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Heidi Beirich, “For the first time, they feel they have someone running for the highest office saying things they believe and want to see.” During the course of the campaign, white nationalists have become a presence at Trump rallies, robo-called for him, and even served as delegates to the Republican National Convention.
This, actually, is huge. Trump’s who began the process of mainstreaming white supremacy and white nationalism, by adopting the movements rhetoric and retweeting its memes, has now come full circle. “Alt-right” is no longer an alternative to mainstream conservatism. It is fast *becoming*mainstream conservatism. Salon’s Chauncey Devega writes, “At present, the Republican Party is the United States’ largest white identity organization.” This week, Donald Trump took his biggest step yet towards making it so, by taking the “alt” out of “alt-right.”
Here’s the best of the rest in wingnuttery this week:
- In a CNN appearance, Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson blamed the US war in Afghanistan on President Obama, though it was President George W. Bush who led the Afghanistan invasion in 2001. Pierson blamed a faulty earpiece and the liberal media, saying, “You could take ten years of history and try to make anyone look crazy.” Perhaps, but why bother when she does it all by herself?
- Pierson isn’t the only Trump surrogate who’s a bit rusty on history. While introducing Trump for a major national security speech, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani apparently forgot all about 9/11. “By the way, under those eight years before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States,” Giuliani said. “They all started when Clinton and Obama got into office.”
- Fox News guest Sheriff David Clarke blamed the riots in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on liberals and “questionable lifestyle choices.
- CNN’s Jake Tapper expertly burned Trump surrogate, former Arizona governor Jan Brewer, when she complained that the media had made a big deal out of his “sarcasm” that “Second Amendment people” could do something to stop Hillary Clinton from changing the Supreme Court. “How dare we cover the comments he makes,” Tapper said.
- Right-wing extremist Theodore Shoebat declared that Hillary Clinton is a “devil worshiper” who should be put to death.
- WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah warned in a recent column that President Obama may seek a third term by indicting Hillary Clinton “between Election Day and Jan. 17,” thus preventing her from taking the oath of office.
- Glenn Beck warned that Donald Trump is creating a conservative version of the Black Lives Matter movement. “He’s making a new group of Black Lives Matter,” Beck said. “He’s make a new group of people that so distrust and hate the system that they will buy anything.”
- Radio host Bryan Fischer told his radio audience they cannot vote for Hillary Clinton, because “women should not be entrusted with high political office.” Fischer previously said Clinton cannot be allowed to become president because she is driven the “spirit of the Anti-Christ.”
- Fox News contributor Alveda King would agree with Fischer. In an appearance on “The Jim Bakker Show,” King warned that Hillary Clinton is looking to “usher in the Antichrist.”
- Trump surrogate Kayleigh McEnany claimed on CNN that Trump had a “great week” because he “tailored” a message to blacks, which he delivered at an all-white rally.
- Of course, an all-white panel of hosts and pundits at Fox News held that Trump’s speech to African-Americans, delivered to an all-white audience, proved the candidate is “not ignoring black voters.” He’s just not speaking to them directly.
- Somebody up there has got a sense of humor. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, who once claimed Hurricane Joaquin was God’s punishment for the Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage, apparently faced divine wrath when flood waters destroyed his Louisiana home.
- Trump Organization special counsel Michael Cohen had a brain meltdown on CNN, when host Brianna Keiler pointed out that Trump was “down” in the polls. “Says who?” Cohen shot back. “Polls…most of them…all of them?” Keilar said incredulously.
- Fox News host Eric Bolling got called out by his fellow Fox pundits, when he tried to claim that numbers at rallies matter more than polls.
- Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort resigned following multiple revelations about his involvement with the Kremlin. A Ukrainian lawmaker divulged that Manafort was paid millions by the political party of the Kremlin-backed former Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovich, to carryout exit polls, buy computers and conduct research. During nearly a decade spent in the Ukraine, laying the groundwork for a Russian invasion of Crimea, and organizing rock-throwing protests against US troops.
- Meanwhile, though her family swears it has absolutely no ties to Russia or Russian president Vladimir Putin, Ivanka Trump vacationed in Croatia this week, with none other than Wendi Deng — ex-wife of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and Putin’s current girlfriend.