Tuesday, April 05, 2016


The Trump moment is going to end in a few months -- possibly with his defeat in November as the Republican presidential nominee, more likely with the party denying him the nomination at the convention in July. Maybe, in the latter case, he'll fuss and fume and try to take revenge. More likely, he won't want to remind people that he's a loser, so he'll slink off -- it's not as if he really cares about the lives of all those voters he courted. He'll lick his wounds and plot his comeback. In a year or two, he'll probably be hosting The Apprentice again.

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.

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.
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.

Here's Robert Tracinski of the Federalist:
Hey, lefties, we finally found your racists for you.

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.
(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.)

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.

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.
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:
... “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.

So the alt-right agenda is a throwback, at best, to the Jim Crow South.
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.

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.


retiredeng said...

They can deny it all thy want. But the "Red Hat Brigade" is right around 27% of the population. I find it very difficult to believe it will go away. The genie is out of the bottle.

Victor said...

Modern Conservatism (oxymoron, that), is like an onion:
It stinks, makes people cry, and it's ready to shed a layer or two.

And their political arm, the Republican Party - aka: the "party of personal resonsibility" - is never responsible for anything!

Gerald Lillpop said...

How wrong could you be. The DC elites will try to disavow Trump but the rage he has unleashed will not be denied. Trump voters want blood and they will never settle for a Paul Ryan. The Republican party is over this year. If Trump is the nominee he will lose so badly that it may cost the Republicans both the house and senate. If he goes to Cleveland with over 100 delegates and loses his supporters will riot. So either they are doomed. Now this doesn't mean the Koch Bros et all will not resurrect the party but it will be a smaller more regional party unable to compete on a national level due to the fact that the teabaggers won't be fooled again.

Ten Bears said...

I agree that he has shot his wad*, but the whole social acceptability of the post "9/11" bullying culture won't be going away. Nor is it limited to the "right". That well has been well and truly poisened.

I only know of one way to deal with bullies.

Ten Bears said...

Oops, astrex*

Shot the wad actually refers to the discharge of an improperly loaded black powder firearm. Often fatal.

tgchicago said...

Robert Tracinski said:

"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."

The hilarious part is that while the link he provides criticizes him, it doesn't even call him racist. It just points out that hearkening back to the good ol' days of the 19th Century US economy without even bringing up slavery is kinda dumb. It's a fairly obvious point.

The fact that Tracinski had such an enormous blind spot doesn't make him racist. But given that his response to being called out on such a ridiculous error is to say "No, I'm not a racist!!!!".... well, that doesn't look so good.

Steve M. said...

Gerald L (and everyone else): I highly recommend Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson's New York Times op-ed "Why Trump Can’t Break the G.O.P." I agree with every word of it.

And I'm calling it now: The GOP will hold the Hose and Senate no matter what happens between now and November, including riots. Dem voters don't care about downballot races, and the heartland is still culturally Republican in a way even the current GOP chaos can't diminish very much.

Steve M. said...

House, not Hose.

Feud Turgidson said...

Steve M, you had it right the first time: hose not house.

I don't think it's prudent to turn to your anxieties for their predictive qualities. The dynamics that render the Hose, uh, House close to unobtainable are materially distinct from those that make the Senate more than get-able.

Steve M. said...

The Senate is definitely up for grabs, but Democratic voters haven't cared about flipping a house of Congress, or defending one, since they regained the White House, and probably won't this time. Mark Kirk and Ron Johnson might go down, but I bet Ayotte and Toomey survive, and I bet Dems blow Florida and Nevada. I blame Dem voters and I blame party leadership, which won't make the case for why Congress, governorships,. or state legislatures are important.

biz5th said...

Ticket splitting doesn't happen much any more. It's hard to imagine a voter in New Hampshire who will vote for Clinton and then vote either for Ayotte or no one.

And Trump may fade away, but his blueprint to a GOP majority will be tweaked and adopted by others.

mlbxxxxxx said...

So you embark on a (very successful) "Southern Strategy," turn the South from solid D to solid R, and are shocked when you find yourself in bed with "throwbacks to Jim Crow." I mean, who saw that coming? And you're shocked those "throwbacks" won't play nice.

LOL covers a lot of my response to the Right these days. At least they are good for amusement, mordant though it may be.

ploeg said...

The Republicans will need to appease Trump in some way, shape, or form, or he will fuss and fume and try to take revenge. And as hard as it will be for the Republicans to lose the House or the Senate this year, they won't be in a mood to take any chances on it. For the Republicans, winning the White House would be nice; retaining Congress is essential. Perhaps Trump will be tired enough of the whole thing that they can interest him in some bauble other than the nomination; if so, so much the better for them. Otherwise, if they have to let Trump have the nomination in the end to keep him inside the tent pissing out, that's what they have to do. If it comes down to it, Cruz voters will vote with the team come the fall regardless of what happens. Trump voters, perhaps not.