I can already hear it now.
This is Richard Spencer being a “contrarian.” It is just another “hot take.” He is a libtard or racist liberal who voted for Joe Biden. That’s how it will be dismissed and waved away.
“I take Soufan’s view seriously. But I wanted to hear from someone on the far-right on how the event was perceived. So I called Richard Spencer, America’s best-known alt-righter, who has yet to be banned from Twitter. It turns out there is a reason for that. Spencer, who infamously gave a Nazi salute at a Washington event shortly before Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017, has revised much of his former philosophy.
Although Spencer still describes himself as an “identitarian”, he voted for Joe Biden on November 3 — a disclosure that astonished me. “Trump brought out the worst aspects in me — that’s not what I want to be remembered for,” Spencer said. “I recognised the toxicity of rightwing populism and didn’t want America to go further down that road.” His view of the January 6 protesters is very different to Soufan’s. He said there was a hard core of genuinely violent types. But the majority were juvenile poseurs. “A lot of them see politics as a kind of video game — like shooting Nazi zombies in some kind of world war two gaming scenario,” he said. “You can see how unrealistic they are by the fact that they are still openly boasting on social media about what they did. They don’t seem to realise that the law is coming for them, which it is.”
“Which doesn’t mean that the legitimate concerns that produced Mr. Trump’s rise are going away or that his substantive achievements will evaporate. He has helped to turn the GOP into more of a working-class party, helped to alter views of China’s economic policies and responded to a kind of national war-weariness. Many of his core supporters remain wedded to him, and he still has strong support across the GOP. As the House was preparing to impeach him for a second time this week, an Axios poll found that six in 10 Republicans approve of his recent behavior and more than 90% of self-identified Trump supporters think he should be the party’s 2024 presidential candidate.
But moving forward may require a different approach, especially with the wider electorate. “He touched a nerve,” says Mr. Kasich. “There is a challenge here that needs to be addressed. But you don’t do it by creating scapegoats and blaming somebody else.”
“The GOP should be America’s blue-collar, populist, outsider party, dedicated to individual and religious freedom. It should be the party that stands up to China. And it should do all this without saying or doing crazy things that scare college-educated voters, especially women …”
“For better or worse, the Republicans are now a bottom-up rather than a top-down party. Working-class voters, who felt powerless for decades as both parties sent their jobs and children overseas with little benefit to their own conditions, aren’t going back to the farm. The challenge for the Republicans is to appeal to that base and see it continue to grow into new broader demographics.
In some sense, Trump did stage a coup — not last week, but five years ago as he launched his bid for the White House. In 2000, he nearly ran as the Reform Party candidate. That would likely have been a mistake. What he eventually did 15 years later was much smarter; he effectively turned the GOP into the Reform Party. That isn’t going to change no matter how much the establishment hopes for it. …”
In reality, we have discussed this at length for two years now.
I started criticizing Donald Trump for backing away from his populist and nationalist campaign over four years ago in December 2016. I broke with him completely in April 2017 after the Syria Strike. I also covered the whole sorry Trump administration from the Inauguration to the Capitol Siege.
By the time of Charlottesville, I was already done with Donald Trump. We started holding those rallies after the Syria Strike in 2017 because we were frustrated with Trump and wanted to move on from him. It was already clear to us in the first six months of the Trump administration that he had no intention of pushing a populist agenda or keeping his promises. He had embraced Paul Ryan’s agenda.
As time went on in 2018, 2019 and 2020, we became more and more critical of rightwing populism. The Alt-Right splintered into the “American Nationalist movement” – people who wanted to bear hug MAGA and blend in to “appeal to the normies,” who believed in “trusting Trump,” who became apologists for Trump and the GOP and whose plan was to “Trust the Plan” – and the “wignats” (their term for us which we ironically embraced because we thought they were idiots) who fiercely criticized Trump for his betrayals of populism, who continued to reject mainstream conservatism and who were deeply skeptical of the grifters and conspiratards who had hijacked and taken over his movement.
Originally, we had been attracted to MAGA and rightwing populism because it had seemed like a breath of fresh air at the time. The Donald Trump that we supported in 2015 and 2016 was the man on the stump who was going to build the wall and deport illegal aliens, who was going to get rid of our terrible trade deals, who thought the Iraq War was a huge mistake, who was running on a trillion dollar infrastructure program, who said things that were true but politically incorrect and who was self financing his campaign in order to be free of the corrupting influence of the Republican donor class. More than anything else, we backed Trump though because we hated mainstream conservatism and we saw him as a bulldozer who could demolish those people and open up our politics. He could “move the Overton Window.”
We saw Donald Trump only as a vehicle for what came to be called “Trumpism” which are policy preferences that a variety of insurgent candidates – most famously, Pat Buchanan, Ross Perot and Ron Paul – had championed over the course of the previous thirty years:
- Change our trade policies to end globalization and foster investment and job creation in America to develop our economy for American workers.
- Rollback the American Empire and put an end to these endless wars in the Middle East that have cost us so much and which we don’t understand anymore.
- Tighten up and enforce our immigration laws because we have had too much immigration for too long and because it is too destabilizing.
- End the yoke of political correctness which is a tyranny bitterly resented by the vast majority of Americans who are forced to walk on eggshells.
- Rebuild the infrastructure of this country which is falling apart.
- Stop being the body servant or water boy of billionaires who have been buying our elections and corrupting our politics.
This was the mandate.
None of these things are particularly controversial. The idea that this agenda amounts to “fascism” is ludicrous. Over half the things on this list have been supported by Bernie Sanders. If Trump had governed on the basis of his populist mandate, he would have been reelected in a landslide.
The toxic side of rightwing populism is largely what we got instead:
- Performance art politics/Political theater.
- Donald Trump’s nepotism which empowered Jared Kushner and Ivanka which we had not anticipated in 2016.
- Donald Trump’s personality cult which ultimately overwhelmed and overshadowed his policy agenda. MAGA became all about him rather than pushing an agenda.
- Trump the plutocrat and Wall Street cheerleader.
- QAnon, “Trust the Plan” and conspiratards.
- Cynical race baiting and fear mongering to wind up and manipulate voters.
- The rejection of expertise above all else with COVID-19.
- Laziness and incompetence.
- Legions of grifters who became Trump influencers.
- A policy agenda that was sold to the donor class.
- Blowback which swelled the legions of our enemies, destroyed our online platforms and real world monuments.
- The absolute utter narcissism and disloyalty of Trump.
- A man who endorsed all his enemies and destroyed all his allies. He destroyed Jeff Sessions and wiped out the immigration hawks. Charlie Kirk became the public face of Trumpism.
- A man who lifted up almost no one in American politics who shares his views or at least what he said in 2016 but who surrounded himself with mediocrities skilled at flattery.
Who imagined in 2016 that we were voting for a guy who was going to bring the neocons back to power and have Mike Pompeo as his Secretary of State? Who was going to run on the Platinum Plan?
The final denouement of the Trump era – Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and Rudy Giuliani hawking conspiracy theories, the “Stop the Steal” grift and the fraud narrative, “Unleash the Kraken,” the “Storm Is Coming” and the Capitol Siege and impeachment – revealed the con it had been all along. Trumpism had moved away from populism and devolved into a personality cult for grifters, chumps and conspiratards led by an incompetent narcissist who used them as pawns only to disavow and discard them.
Imagine where Donald Trump and MAGA would be today if he had actually gone down the Alt-Right road in 2017. Suppose he had done some of the things that we wanted from him instead of wooing Mitch McConnell, passing the Paul Ryan agenda and nurturing the QAnon grift. Withdrawing troops from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Passing a major infrastructure bill. Deporting illegal aliens. Busting up political correctness. Pressuring Senate Republicans to pass the $2,000 stimulus checks. Would the Democrats now control the White House and Congress? Would rightwing populism be in this bad of shape? There were worse things in this world than catering to the mostly reasonable Alt-Right agenda.
In The Long MAGA, we reflected on the recent history of rightwing populism, which in many ways foreshadowed what we got in the final year of the Trump presidency. Years ago, Trump began building his conspiratard base and making a name for himself by questioning Obama’s birth certificate, which was an issue that never interested us. We remembered Glenn Beck’s chalkboard and the Restoring Honor rally in the Tea Party era. We recalled all the nuttiness of the Obama years whether it was the Sandy Hook hoax or Operation Jade Helm and FEMA camps or how Obama created Hurricane Sandy and flung it into New York City to defeat Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. QAnon is a natural outgrowth of these circles and makes more sense when you think of it in that context. Andrew Anglin ran conspiratard websites like Outlaw Journalism and Reality Situation for almost ten years before rebranding as a Neo-Nazi.
The fact that we recognized and recoiled from the toxicity of Stage 4 MAGA and broke with Trump is why we were not at the Capitol Siege and why Andrew Anglin told his readers to go and why Nick Fuentes was there. They were there to display their optics and hold Trump’s beer and to “appeal to the normies” … the normies being the Alex Jones audience and the thousands of Qtards who read the tea leaves, trusted the plan and stampeded into the Capitol. Rudy Giuliani now has a scapegoat who can be easily blamed to take the fall for Trump. They should have known better than to associate with him given the fact that it was the corrupt scum in Rudy’s orbit who got Trump impeached the first time.
If there is any hope for rightwing populism, it will have to find a way to separate the good (the popular ideas and policies) from the bad (the cranks, grifters, demagogues and conspiratards) in the future. This will require identifying and promoting people who are ideological and ethical.
Note: Nick and the Groypers had no objection to blending in with the optics of these people.