Wingnut Week In Review: Trump Takes “Alt” Out of “Alt-Right”

Terrance Heath

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:

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