Maybe his voters will take their revenge, in the streets or at the ballot box -- or maybe they'll just be sheep and come home to the GOP. Maybe they'll riot and then vote Republican anyway. It doesn't matter. Regardless of what happens, a narrative will be crafted that absolves mainstream Republicans of any responsibility for the rise of Trumpism.
A key aspect of selling this narrative will be a phrase I'm running into a lot these days: "alt-right." In a recent Vox post by Zack Beauchamp, the "alt-right" was described this way:
The alt-right is a group of online dissidents from mainstream conservatism. While they have a diverse set of beliefs and interests, they share one core belief: Mainstream conservatism is full of politically correct sellouts.Beauchamp's post is an attempt to explain the popularity of right-wing self-mythologizer (and Trump backer) Milo Yiannopoulos, who recently coauthored, with Allum Bokhari, "An Establishment Conservative's Guide to the Alt-Right." Beauchamp is critical of Yiannopoulous and his manifesto -- but the anti-Trump right is utterly appalled by it, or at least wants to be seen as appalled. The specific message the anti-Trump right wants to put across is: We are not these "alt-right" people. We had nothing to do with their emergence. We spit on the ground when they walk by.
The alt-right encompasses a range of views. It includes among its ranks people who’d traditionally be just called white supremacists or white nationalists, people like Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute (who coined the term "alt-right") or American Renaissance’s Jared Taylor. But it also includes people who reject bigotry, at least in its overt forms, but whose views are still too reactionary for the conservative mainstream.
Regardless, racism and sexism are essential elements of the alt-right movement; it could not exist in its current form without them.
Here's Robert Tracinski of the Federalist:
Hey, lefties, we finally found your racists for you.(They're "tools of the left"? The left is responsible for the rise of these folks? How did that work? Tracinski writes: "The alt-right originated by looking at the left’s caricature of the right as racists and pro-white tribalists and saying, in effect: sure, we’ll be that." Oh, so that makes them our fault. Right. Got it.)
For as long as I can remember, people like me -- by which I mean advocates of capitalism and free markets and freedom of speech -- have been accused by the left of being secret racists who pine for the gold old days of the antebellum South. Tiresome stuff like this. Then along comes a group of actual, declared racists who really do pine for the antebellum South, and who is one of the main targets of their invective? People like me.
Kind of ironic, eh?
I’m talking about the so-called “alt-right,” which stands for “alternative right,” though I can’t find anything particularly “right-wing” about them -- not in the American sense, which has traditionally meant advocacy of free markets, individual rights, and the ideals of our Founding Fathers....
The alt-right isn’t part of the intellectual traditions of the American right, nor is it an alternative to anything. It’s just the same old white-sheet set, repackaged with red “Make America Great Again” golf caps. They’re serving as ignorant tools of the left, and they should be exposed as such.
National Review's Ian Tuttle expresses disgust at the notion that the alt-right is doing a job the establishment right won't do:
The Alt-Right’s origin story will sound familiar: Conservatives, the Breitbart writers say, refused to defend “humanism, liberalism, and universalism” against “black and feminist identity politics” and “left-wing moral relativism.” They “turned a blind eye to the rise of tribal, identitarian movements on the Left while mercilessly suppressing any hint of them on the Right.” (Something like this tale of woe is used by Trump supporters to explain, and to justify, his rise.) This is largely false.Tuttle is also shocked, shocked, at the alt-right's embrace of racism; both he and Tracinski note that establishment rightist are regularly called "cuckservatives" by alt-rightists. As Tracinski writes:
It’s simply nonsense to suggest that American conservatism was willfully complicit in the rise of the identity-politics Left, or that conservatives have wholly forsaken their commitment to constitutional, and generally Judeo-Christian, values. For decades, conservatives have fought against racial favoritism, against the normalization of sexual perversion, against the “Hey, hey, ho, ho! Western Civ has got to go!” ethos that animates so much of progressivism.
... “cuckservative” is their go-to insult for those of us who are actually on the right. It refers to the idea that non-racists want to be cuckolded by letting their women sleep with black men.Lost in all this is the racism of the establishment right in recent years. Maybe most establishment rightists put a bit of distance between themselves and the birthers, but they accused President Obama of being a Kenyan anti-colonialist, engaged in demagoguery about ACORN and the New Black Panthers, smeared Shirley Sherrod and the Black Lives Matter movement, and systematically deprived blacks of the right to vote. They warned us of the perils of the "Ground Zero mosque" and told us that Muslim boy who built a clock was probably a terrorist or terrorist-wannabe.
So the alt-right agenda is a throwback, at best, to the Jim Crow South.
But now racism and Trumpism are all seen as a very separate thing: the alt-right. And that's going to be their story when the Trump moment is over: It was those awful alt people. It wasn't us. And all the pundits and chin-scratchers in the mainstream media will glom onto that: Yes, it wasn't Republicans who gave us Trump. It was the alt-right.