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Trump in Cleveland: Nationalism, Populism, and the Rise of the Alt Right

Kevin MacDonald writes that going into Donald Trump’s acceptance speech I thought he would pivot, as they say, from some of the positions that most annoy the New York Times et al. Far from it. It was all there. Build the Wall, no immigration from countries associated with terrorism (okay, he didn’t say ‘Muslims’, but it was an obvious proxy), immigration for the benefit of Americans (rather than, it is implied, as a moral imperative — which almost automatically implies a drastic decrease in legal immigration), crime by illegal immigrants (complete with poignant stories about the victims), the insanity of US refugee policy given the problem of Muslim terrorism and the inability to vet refugees — and in particular Hillary’s proposal to vastly increase the numbers. And that’s just immigration.

I also loved that he didn’t back away from detailing Hillary’s crimes—the email scandal, the lying about the email scandal, the hundreds of millions of dollars flowing to the Clinton Foundation from foreign governments associated with terrorism and human rights abuses while she was Secretary of State, with the crowd chanting “Lock her up.” The mainstream media is particularly piqued to think that the RNC delegates would act so uncharitably toward their darling (the LATimes called it a “lynch mob.” But just how much politeness does someone who has taken corruption at the highest levels of government to heights never seen in my lifetime (and I’m an old guy) deserve?

Another great issue that he pounded home was “law and order” which is on everyone’s mind because of BLM, the recent killings of police officers in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and elsewhere, and memories of rioting in Ferguson and Baltimore. There are obvious racial overtones to this theme — it’s really an implicit appeal to Whites fed up with political correctness and blaming White America for the ills of Black urban communities. Contrary to the left’s message, BLM is inextricably linked to the Democrats given Obama’s rhetoric and his many White House invitations to BLM leaders. Giving the numbers on recent increases in murders and shooting victims —- clearly the result of less proactive policing in Black inner-city communities — was very effective. Combining that with mention of the terrorist events here and in France, the clear message is that the country is falling apart — Make America Safe Again.

But of course, these are themes that immediately provoke a knee-jerk reaction on the left-leaning media, and especially the Jewish left-leaning media (but I repeat myself), that Trump is clearly a harbinger of fascism. All those rabidly cheering White people chanting “USA, USA,” “Lock her up,” and “America First” are terrifying to those who do not identify with the traditional people and culture of America. Going into the speech I was sure Trump would refrain from using “America First” given that the ADL has condemned his using it since it reminds Jews of the America First movement of the 1930s which opposed going to war with Hitler and is therefore seen as “anti-Semitic” (particularly America First leader Charles Lindbergh’s calling attention to the role of Jews in promoting the war). Instead, Trump repeated it during his speech in a least two places, and at one point he said it several times, prompting the crowd to join in. This was the sort of unabashed nationalism for countries that are not Israel that terrifies activist Jews.

The theme of incipient fascism was apparent, if understated, in much of the media. Here the code word was ‘dark’, as in the New York Times headline “His Tone Dark, Donald Trump Takes G.O.P. Mantle.”

Donald John Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday night with an unusually vehement appeal to Americans who feel that their country is spiraling out of control and yearn for a leader who will take aggressive, even extreme, actions to protect them. …

With dark imagery and an almost angry tone, Mr. Trump portrayed the United States as a diminished and even humiliated nation, and offered himself as an all-powerful savior who could resurrect the country’s standing in the eyes of both enemies and law-abiding Americans. …

In promoting his hard-line views on crime, immigration and hostile nations, Mr. Trump was wagering that voters would embrace his style of populism and his promises of safety if they feel even less secure by Election Day. (my emphasis)

This obviously invokes a fear on the left that Trump will inaugurate a right-wing police state under the banners of “Law and Order,” and “Make America Safe Again.” Just as the National Socialists portrayed Germany as a humiliated nation needing a strong leader who would take “aggressive, even extreme actions” in their rise to power in the 1930s, the Times emphasized Trump’s portrayal of the US as “humiliated” (“Not only have our citizens endured domestic disaster, but they have lived through one international humiliation after another.”)

The Times noted that the speech was not “traditionally optimistic and personal, full of hope and revelations that cast candidates in the best possible light for voters.” Trump’s pessimism feeds into the very real anger of the White GOP base which is legitimately worried about a future where Whites will be a minority if things don’t change soon — BLM, Muslim terrorism and lack of assimilation (favoring Sharia law and jihad by large percentages of Muslims in the West), and the hatred against White America that is now routine on the left (e.g., the ubiquitous “America Was Never Great” signs among the Cleveland protesters).

Of course, the left would much prefer a traditional GOP candidate who painted a rosy picture of the future — if only abortion and gay marriage were banned, capital gains taxes cut, and prayer in public schools mandated. Instead, Trump said he would protect LGBTQ people, there was no mention of abortion, and only a brief thank-you for Evangelical support (noting humbly “I’m not sure I totally deserve it.”). GOP candidates are expected to complain about the state of the US in an election during a Democrat administration, but they completely get off the reservation when they highlight immigration and lawlessness as the problems.

The JTA also picked up the “dark” theme, headlining “Donald Trump, accepting nomination, paints dark picture in pledging to put ‘America first.’” As a Jewish publication, they emphasized Trump’s use of the phrase “America First” despite its anti-Jewish overtones, but they also focused on Israel-related issues. Trump expressed his opposition to the Iran deal and his statement that he would work with “our greatest ally in the region, the State of Israel,” to much applause. Given that this, after all, is the GOP convention (his comment was warmly received), we should be thankful that this was the only mention of Israel. If one of the GOP cucks had won the nomination, Israel would likely have been a major theme.

Another Jewish voice noting incipient fascism was liberal Jonathan Chait: “Donald Trump Is Bidding to Transform the GOP Into a White-Identity-Politics Party“. Chait claims, without any evidence, that Trump is leading an explicitly White ethnonationalist movement. Would that it were so (although it’s vastly premature at this point).

Their orientation is nostalgic, rather than glitter-eyed about the future. Like traditional conservatives, they distrust federal power, but extend their circle of rhetorical enemies to include the corporate elite. Most important, unlike standard conservatives, who tend to disregard race, ethnonationalists have a deeply, explicitly, racialized view of the world. (my emphasis)

Although there is no evidence Trump is explicitly advocating a politics of White ethno-nationalism, his campaign certainly appeals to implicit Whiteness.

Chait notes that Trump is a major departure from GOP orthodoxy:

All those ideological markers [of race] appeared in Trump’s address. The speech focused on four issues: crime, trade, immigration, and terrorism. The first three are issues most Republicans have de-emphasized, or moved in the opposite direction advocated by Trump. The last, terrorism, he presented less as a foreign-policy problem — as Republicans usually do — than as an outgrowth of an immigration policy he believes should exclude Muslims. Virtually the entire speech was therefore consumed with what, from the standpoint of almost any traditional Republican leader, would be heresy.

And thank God for that! Obviously the link between terrorism and immigration is not about illegal immigration — the latter a topic that even cuck Republicans have been comfortable with. It’s about the reality that legal Muslim immigrants, even if only a small percentage of them, are likely to wreak havoc on America. For activist Jews, any singling out of a group as unacceptable immigrants is anathema, conjuring up images of the rhetoric and sentiments surrounding the 1924 immigration restriction law centered on the proneness of Jewish immigrants to radical leftist politics. In fact, Jewish immigrants from that period formed the backbone of the left into contemporary times and their descendants are the primary contributors to Hillary Clinton’s campaign (abetted now by money from prominent neocons [an offshoot of the Jewish left] like Seth Klarman who are switching from supporting cuckservative Romney in 2012).

The good news is that, as Richard Spencer noted in the immediate aftermath of the speech, the populist, nationalist, anti-globalist genie can’t be put back in the bottle. The Republican party is changed forever. The Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio types will never be able to go back to the old nostrums that worked so well for the party until the Trump revolution.

This has been a hostile takeover made possible because Trump appeals to so many who voted Republican but got absolutely nothing in return. These voters now realize their real interests are being articulated by Trump, and there’s no going back to a “principled conservative” like Cruz. One wonders what alternate universe Cruz is living in if he thinks that anything like a majority of Republicans, much less the country as a whole, will vote for his conservative principles. Trump voters won’t forget his treachery.

So even though Trump painted a very depressing picture of America, we on the Alt Right have every reason to be optimistic. I can’t help but remember how I felt a year ago, before Trump was getting on everyone’s radar. I just couldn’t see any way forward and it looked like just another election in which we would get to choose between the execrable Clinton and a hopeless cuck like Jeb Bush. There was just no way to get our message out given the absolute blackout imposed by the media, from far left to neoconservative right.

All that’s changed now. The Alt Right is the only identifiable political perspective that provides an intellectual defense of the central themes of Trump’s campaign which really come down to defending the traditional people and culture of America. Nationalism, populism, much less White interests, have been eradicated by elite consensus to the far fringes of American political discourse. But with the rise of Trump, it’s inevitable that they edge toward the mainstream. The confident dismissals of any claim for the reality of race and racial interests, as in this article on Richard Spencer, will seem more and more hollow as they confront articulate, science-based arguments and the reality of racial conflict all around them. This is a great moment for the Alt Right — and for America.

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