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The Alt-Right’s Rise to Washington

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The Alt-Right’s Rise to Washington

        The alternative right movement has seen a meteoric rise during this past president election cycle. The term the “alt-right”, was first appropriated in 2010 by its unofficial leader, Richard Spencer. Its central beliefs can be described as “an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism (Daniszewski).” In simplest term, it is a white nationalist movement full of far-right, internet-based radicals. Though its ideals are nothing new, its rise to prominence has certainly been seen during the 2016 presidential elections. Alt-right publications like Breibart News along with public forums such as Reddit and 4chan became platforms for those alike to receive and publish their ideologies. In the age of internet, online media platforms such as those those aforementioned have allowed its rise and popularity. This paper will examine the alt-rights recent prevalence during the 2016 presidential election and its eventual influence in Washington.

        There is an increasing amount of people worldwide who use the internet as their main sources of news. Obtaining news online is a easier, faster, and is a more accessible way for people to receive news. Within recent years, there has been an influx of digital news outlets due to its low upfront costs. Sites can continuously update news without the constraints that face traditional newspaper or television networks. This in turn gives greater risk of partisanship which gives leeway more factual error (Jost). Digital news publications can essentially write whatever they please without the same consequence that larger, traditional networks face. However, this doesn’t deter people from believing them — including President Trump himself. President Trump’s claim that former President Obama wiretapped Trump Towers was reportedly from a Breibart article that circulated the West Wing, according to an unnamed White House official  (Lemaire). Whether that is true doesn’t negate from the fact that a publication known for its unsubstantiated claims and conspiracies would even be uttered as potential source of information for our president. If such publication has an effect on our president, that makes one think that it has an even more substantial effect on everyday Americans. It is assumed that there is a population of Americans whose ideals and beliefs match those of the alt-right. The influx of alt-right publications and forums this past election cycle has given way for those individuals to validate their beliefs, therefore, amplifying their views of things such as paleoconservatism, white nationalism, and white supremacism. The mainstreaming of the Eurocentric ideals of the alt-right is perhaps the reason behind the increase of hate crimes recently (Clemmitt).

        Perhaps the largest fringe group to support a presidential candidate was those of the alt-right movement. They outwardly supported the presidential candidates which included most notably, their outspoken Breibart editor, Milo Yiannopoulos who referred Trump as ‘Daddy’. Their love for Trump doesn’t stem from the fact that Trump is a Republican, but because of his outspokenness and “American First” stance; as well as the fact he spoke without the political correctness his conservative predecessors spoke with. The alt-right base is notably known for their unique understanding of social media. When asked about how they differ from the Ku Klux Klan, leading alt-right member, Jared Taylor, noted that those of the movement are “internet-savvy dissidents who are waging their campaign online” (Sevastopulo). What is considered, “trolling”, those like Yiannopoulous use troll-like methods to effectively draw attention to themselves. They used a mixture of shock tactics and target harassments to draw attention to their movement (Malmgren). They created memes and hashtags to promote Trump while simultaneously make fun of liberals who they refer to as “snowflakes”. These outrageous tactics eventually found way into Trump’s knowledge. Throughout the election, Trump retweeted alt-right posts as well as outwardly spoke in support of the alt-right movement and their right to free speech. Trump’s outward support of the group gave them further prominence. However, did the group directly help land Trump the election? It’s true the group did indeed magnify Trump’s beliefs to the extreme, but those who already had those far-right ideals were already in support of Trump. Swing voters tend to not fall in either the far-right or far-left spectrum, but rather in the moderate category. It is plausible to assume the alt-right movement did not have a strong effect on swing voters.

        The alt-right movement has certainly played at the highest part of the political system. Trump has condemned the alt-right movements and its unofficial leader Richard Spencer, yet he employed former Breitbart executive chair, Steve Bannon to White House Chief Strategist. Bannon himself calls Breitbart News the platform for the alt-right. Trump’s inner circle includes a small minority of those who are part of the alt-right. They hold an influential part because Trump tends to cater to those who applaud him (Shapiro). This flattery seen from even Vladimir Putin has proven a way to get what they want from Trump. Bannon is in the ear of Trump, and is said to be his “puppet master”. Someone as close as Bannon is to Trump is bound to have great influence over Trump. He is believed to be the driving force behind Trump’s immigration ban, which is of course, is one of the alt-right’s highest ideals. With Trump as our president, and Steve Bannon as his top advisor, the alt-right feel on top. Self-proclaimed alt-righter, Chuck John stated to the Politico, "We memed the president into the Oval Office….We hunt down the cucks (cuckservatives) (Schreckinger).” They believe that they are in perfect position to take over the political arena now that they have their “great leader(s)” in office. Whether or not Bannon, or other alt-righters in his circle will have a significant voice for President Trump’s decisions or not, we cannot deny their considerable rise to the highest office of our land.



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