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Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The U.S. White Nationalist Flea Market of Ideas.

 a.k.a. The “Claremont Institute”
On one level, the jokes just write themselves. However, this stuff is really not funny. Stay tuned for some serious fracking on this poignant, sorry motherlode of rhetorical fallacies and Incel-resonant White Male Victimhood pearl-clutching and indignantly harrumphing MEGO sophistry.
[Note: "The Claremont Institute" is not affiliated in any way with the SoCal Claremont Colleges. I called the school to confirm that.]
The movement now called MAGA has long existed in the American political bloodstream; fittingly, Trump’s companion motto, “America First,” originated in 1940 among isolationists at the outbreak of World War II. Across every iteration, this movement’s ideology was and is loosely defined by nationalism and traditional social values, fierce opposition to liberalism as a slippery slope to communism, and a tendency toward paranoia and conspiratorial thinking. For most of the postwar era, this worldview remained on the fringe of American politics—that is, unpersuasive to most Americans, and systematically frozen out by the two major parties. In contrast to the mainstream GOP, the fringe passionately opposed immigration and trade and rejected bipartisan compromise, even tolerating violence.

In spite of, or maybe because of, being so marginalized, a core tenet of this belief system was that its adherents were surely right, and most Americans surely agreed with them, if only their views could be heard—that America was inherently and immovably a right-of-center, conservative country, no matter how many times the voters said otherwise. This faction managed to persist and even grow despite the repeated electoral setbacks that befell its champions, from Barry Goldwater to Pat Buchanan. By the 2010s, with the rise of the Tea Party backlash to Barack Obama’s election, the coarser side of the American right was gaining strength but still decidedly an outside force pressuring the Republican Party. The movement lacked someone with the political talent, charisma, fame, or resources to popularize its ideology (as Ronald Reagan did for his sunny small-government conservatism)—until Trump. The America of Trump’s first inaugural—“this American carnage”—sounded shockingly dark to anyone not already steeped in the harsh pessimism that had long festered on the outer edge of the American right. To those who were, listening to Trump sounded like finally, for the first time, being recognized and represented.

Trump never missed an opportunity to use his presidential megaphone to elevate these views, from defending white nationalist marchers in Charlottesville to railing against “deep state” enemies. He both welcomed more people from the radical fringe into the Republican fold and at the same time mainstreamed their views to steadily radicalize the existing rank and file. In his final year in office, two genuine crises collided to radicalize millions more Republicans with astonishing speed. First, the pandemic upended all semblance of normalcy, injected politics into daily life, and fueled a spasm of conspiracy theories that presented attractive alternatives to experts asking for major sacrifices; suddenly, as government officials started exercising powers unseen in living memory, many Republicans found it a little less far-fetched, a little more credible, to believe that Democrats wanted to control their lives and take away their freedoms. Then, massive street demonstrations responding to the murder of George Floyd created an atmosphere of social upheaval, racial unrest, and, based on portrayals in right-wing media, rampant lawlessness and destruction. Trump’s campaign messaging rolled it all up—the “China virus” and the “thugs”—into a vast voter-fraud conspiracy arrayed against him and his supporters. The widespread misinformation about the virus and the protests primed Trump’s supporters to reject the result of the election. The names, dates, and places of the supposed theft, to the extent they were ever specified, were always changing and never really mattered. The essence of the stolen-election myth was the latest, biggest expression of insisting America must tilt right, that, as Trump would repeat at his rallies, “this nation does not belong to them, this nation belongs to you.”

Arnsdorf, Isaac (2024-04-08T23:58:59.000). Finish What We Started. Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition. 
Click the cover page above.


I am an inveterate Rick Wilson fanboy. After a brain-numbing day of reading everything, I never wanted to know about the hatemongering AntiWoke non-cosmopolitan Stephen Miller, (See prior post; I finished the Miller bio) this provides a good respite, for me, anyway. Not that I totally, uncritically buy into all of this AI Gartner hype cycle.

More shortly…

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