On August 13 and 14, Peter Daou laid out a theory of Trump’s (non)campaign as explicitly fomenting a white nationalist awakening. His theory has been confirmed by news that a Trump campaign shake-up includes hiring Breitbart’s Stephen Bannon as chief executive of his campaign.
Stephen Bannon, who was profiled by Bloomberg under the ominous headline “This Man Is the Most Dangerous Political Operative in America,” is the executive chair of conservative media outlet Breitbart News – which has, under Bannon’s leadership, effectively become the media arm of the alt-right.
Simultaneously, Breitbart has become what even some of its former employees describe as “something of a Trump propaganda outlet.” (Almost exactly a year ago, Bannon was denying pay-for-play rumors about Trump and Breitbart.)
Bannon has overseen the confluence of Breitbart becoming an aggressively pro-Trump outlet and becoming an unapologetically white nationalist space, in which racism, nativism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism form a toxic stew of white supremacist hatred, commingling with the favorite conservative bailiwicks of misogyny and queerphobia.
Bannon not only brings with him his entire media empire of seething bigotry, but a connection to some of the large conservative donors who have not been disposed to support Trump directly. Via the Government Accountability Institute, which Bannon co-founded and serves as executive chair, Trump now has connections to, among others, one of the GAI’s largest funders – “Donors’ Trust, the Koch-founded and operated political slush fund through which donations are laundered and sent to various organizations” who support their agenda.
The GAI does “investigations,” as does Bannon’s media property Breitbart, targeting anyone who is seen an “enemy” of the white nationalist agenda – including Republicans viewed as insufficiently sympathetic to their radical ideals and left-leaning organizations whose missions center on empowering people of color and/or women.
It is not an overstatement to say that Bannon is the most prominent mainstreamer of white nationalism in the country today. And now he is running Trump’s campaign.
“Buckle up,” was the message a Trump strategist texted to The Washington Post.
In other words: Get ready for an escalation of what the Trump campaign has already become.
Trump’s entry into the political sphere was as a town crier of birtherism against President Obama. His opening salvo when he announced his candidacy was declaring undocumented Mexican immigrants to be rapists, who should be contained behind a border wall. And he careened at full speed through the last year and a half with a hideous litany delivered under the dog whistle “Make America Great Again.”
His Alex Jones-style conspiracy-mongering; his meticulously crafted words of incitement and exhortations to violence; his attacks on a federal judge; his description of President Obama as a terrorist (the “founder of ISIS”); his birtherism; his retweets of neo-Nazis; his eliminationist language toward Hillary Clinton; his fierce misogyny and indifference to sexual harassment; his feud with the Khan family; his Muslim ban; his use of anti-Semitic symbols; his embrace of torture; his capriciousness about the proliferation and use of nuclear weapons; his praise for dictators; his flirtations with Putin; his welcoming of Russian cyber-espionage; his undiluted xenophobia; his racist dog whistles (“look at my African-American”); his infamous border wall and relentless anti-Mexican bigotry; his claims of a “rigged” election; his unconcealed calls for voter intimidation; his refusal to disavow ties to white supremacists.
And now comes his hiring of Bannon, overseer of an incubator of white nationalist extremism.
It is no coincidence that white nationalism is going mainstream, ushered to new visibility and prominence by the Republican Party nominee, in this moment.
We sit at a historical pivot point – at the end of the presidency of our nation’s first Black president and on the precipice of the likely presidency of our nation’s first woman president. White nationalism is about maintaining white supremacy; it is also, and equally, about maintaining male supremacy. The patriarchy and white power have always coexisted, reinforcing each other in a recursive loop to uphold the dominance of white males in America.
The Republican Party has spent decades mastering the exploitation of fear and bigotry, while pretending they weren’t. They winked at white nationalists, even as they publicly disavowed them – and now those restless chickens are coming home to roost.
Trump is not an anomaly; he was an inevitability.
Trump spent Tuesday night giving a “law and order” speech in a suburb of Milwaukee, portraying it as Black outreach to conceal his true intentions to casual observers, despite the fact that he was over 40 miles away from Milwaukee, in a district that is 95% white and less than 1% Black. (Trump has refused invitations to speak to the NAACP, or any other gathering of Black people.)
His address, in which he called for more policing (while Milwaukee residents protest police violence) was a familiar dog whistle used to appeal to white people whose outrage about crime (while crime is decreasing) he has mendaciously fomented.
Trump’s gross rhetorical display included a chant of “America First” and culminated with classic code words for white nationalism: “This is it. This is our last chance to take back power from the people who have taken it away from you.”
This is a dark moment in American history: The extreme right has now officially taken over the Republican Party, and the GOP nominee is now openly running a campaign geared toward mainstreaming white nationalism.
It’s more crucial than ever to defeat Trump in November, along with everything he now consciously and purposely represents.