Much digital ink has been spent burying the spectre of the Alt-Right. Probably most of this is butt-covering going on trying to assure the powers that be that the individual in question is NOT of the Alt-Right and therefore not deserving of de-platforming.
Along with this interment is the surprising fact that most people (including myself) are not entirely sure what the definition and origins of the Alt-Right precisely are. I know that depending on the exact capitalization and hyphenation of the name it can be the Richard Spencer coined term for the white identitarian group that he belongs to. Other versions of this and similar expressions like Dissident Right have different emphases and appeal to different points of view.
But whatever names and whatever divisions these groups make between each other (and they certainly do that), one thing is undeniable. These were the groups that identified the real problems afflicting the United States and they were the ones who backed Donald Trump before anyone else even thought he was serious. Whatever else they are wrong about they were right about those things. To deny that is to deny the truth.
And the other thing that needs to be said and that is the central point of this post is that they along with President Trump are responsible for moving the Overton Window to the point where even the normies like me have heard the details of what the Alt-Right knew and have incorporated it into our world view. No one bothers to even dispute the platitudes of the Establishment GOP when they’re mouthed. We might give a sarcastic snort and then close the link and go to some useful website where actual thinking is going on. The Alt-Right and Donald Trump truly revealed why the right always lost. It was because our supposed leaders didn’t want to win. They just wanted the job of losing.
Now, all of this is old hat. We all know all of this. But it was hammered home to me when I was perusing an article in American Greatness by Christopher Roach entitled “The Radicalism of Conservatism, Inc.” Now it’s a very good article and it delves into the history of how the establishment right became so wrong on how to win. But reading the description of how Trump deconstructed the “illegal immigration is an act of love,” and describing establishment conservatives by saying, “that they function chiefly as the palace guard for yesterday’s liberalism” could have come directly out of a ZMan post from a year ago. What that tells me is the knowledge that the Alt-Right pioneered has been successfully dispersed into the bloodstream of the conservative body politic (if I may mangle a metaphor that far).
Whatever agreements or disagreements we may have with either the tactics or the substance of what the Alt-Right believes we have to acknowledge that they have red-pilled a significant part of the normie right. And that is without a doubt an enormous achievement. Without them maybe Clinton beats Trump and with a solid liberal majority on the Supreme Court we might now be watching as the First and Second Amendments were being effectively chloroformed.
As someone who has slowly become aware of the depths of the change going on in the country I’ve recently been in the odd position of acting as an interpreter to my even less aware brethren. At a family gathering I was drawn into a discussion of the recent Charlottesville riot. The prevailing opinion was that Trump had botched it by addressing the situation the way he did.
• It was a mistake to give the press the chance to tie him to the protesters.
• They were bemoaning his drops in opinion polls and the chaos at the White House.
• I was warned about the danger to the Senate majority and the inevitability of impeachment.
• I was told that he must begin getting on message and concentrate on passing an agenda that included tax reform and spending cuts.
The talk became rather heated and I tried to convince them that what they took for a bug was a feature. I tried to make them understand that what Trump needed to do was not embrace the moderates but wake up the sleep walkers. And that they themselves were the sleepwalkers. I pointed out that any actual Nazis there were more than matched in evil by the fascistic Antifa present at the proceedings. Highlighting that and countering the narrative coming from the press and the establishment political parties was Trump’s job and needed to be done. I’m not sure I was successful in convincing my audience. I think their time hasn’t yet arrived. Or maybe it won’t. For some the chaos that would occur during a full-blown confrontation between left and right is unthinkable. Hell, even I view such an event with enormous trepidation and distaste. But just as strongly I reject the notion that these leftist miscreants should destroy what’s good about this country.
At a certain point in the conversation I was asked how Trump calling out the left could succeed in reversing the damage that already had been done by the left. I answered that he couldn’t. All he could do was try to wake up the sleepwalkers to how much trouble we are in. Wake them up and and hope that there are enough of them left to win by democratic means. When asked how likely that was I made up a number based on how pessimistic I felt. Maybe thirty percent, maybe ten? Later on, I thought about that guess and realized that ten percent was actually closer to what I believed.
The next day I noticed that everyone actually seemed a little more optimistic about the future. I think just talking with someone who wasn’t discouraged with how Trump was addressing the press and the left seemed to help them even if the prognosis for difficult times ahead was part of the package. We discussed how to take positive action and improve our own personal environments. Build business and social connections to protect ourselves and our families from disruptions to come. We even discussed what areas of the country might be the best place for us to coalesce to. It was a real shot in the arm. So today I’m encouraged. People can learn that there are alternatives to capitulation. If you articulate the futility of the establishment appeasement position people will listen. And if they listen sometimes they wake up. And talking about it with friends actually seems therapeutic.
Did I wake anyone up? I don’t know, but at least now I feel like I want to keep trying.