With Donald Trump now officially the Republican nominee, rightwing extremists feel empowered to come out of the shadows for the general election.
David Duke, the infamous neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klansman of Louisiana politics, announced Friday morning that he is running for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat. And he’s thanking Donald for championing his ideals.
The GOP’s national Senate campaign arm already announced that it will not support him, citing the presence of “several GOP candidates” in the race who can make a positive impact — and he’s not one of them.
But here’s the problem: In the year of Donald — whose attacks on Latinxs, Muslims, women, and countless other groups actually propelled him to the GOP presidential nomination, and helped to make white nationalism mainstream — what exactly is mainstream anymore? And the more awful stuff a candidate says, the more exposure they can actually get from the click-hungry media.
Duke’s platform is simple: To stand up for white people. “Thousands of special-interest groups stand up for African Americans, Mexican Americans, Jewish Americans, etcetera, etcetera,” Duke declared in his launch video. “The fact is that European Americans need at least one man in the United States Senate, one man in the Congress, who will defend their rights and heritage. We must stop the massive immigration, and ethnic cleansing of the people whose forefathers created America.”
Duke also proclaims that his platform has become “the GOP mainstream,” driving them to electoral success: “I’m overjoyed to see Donald Trump, and most Americans, embrace most of the issues that I’ve championed for years. My slogan remains ‘America First.'”
Duke spent his college days marching around in a Nazi uniform (an odd thing, come to think of it, for someone who says he’s “America First”), later served one term in the Louisiana legislature from 1987-1991, and in a shocking result became the GOP’s nominee for governor in 1991. The Democrat defeated him in a landslide — but the fact was, 39 percent of the Louisiana electorate voted for him.
He eventually served time in prison in the early 2000s, after pleading guilty to felony charges of tax fraud and raising money off of supporters by claiming poverty while actually living the the high life. (Though in fact, Duke can vote for himself in the election under Louisiana state law, as it appears he has completed his sentence and any applicable paroles.)
And this year, it seems, is his newest opportunity to seriously make some noise.