In the wake of discussing “hailgate“, and other controversies it has become easy to forget what a triump the National Policy Institute’s Become Who We Are 2016 conference was. Over 300 identitarians and Alt Righters desended on Washington D.C. for a two day celebration and exploration of the new vanguard on the American right.
Over at Rolling Stone, and article titled “Radically Mainstream: Why the Alt-Right Is Celebrating Trump’s Win” gives a bit of flavor to the conference’s success, though not too much of course, after all, the ideological glass ceiling has to preserved:
At nearly 300 attendees, this year’s gathering – taking place less than two weeks after Trump’s upset victory – is his largest to date…Ten days earlier, I’m waiting outside a restaurant in Washington, D.C.’s trendy Logan Circle. It’s the day after the election, and Spencer has suggested we meet for lunch. The mood of passersby is desultory. Two men recognize and greet each other; when one asks how the other is doing, he shrugs sadly. The first man responds, “I know.”
But when Spencer arrives, he’s elated. He was out late drinking and celebrating the win, and says he got only three hours of sleep. He started his evening at the Trump Hotel and then just roved around the city, where he says he was stopped and greeted by fans. “I don’t want to get too indulgent,” he says, “but it is actually kind of wild where you’ll meet people and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, I love you.’…Over lunch, Spencer says that building white nationalism – or “identitarianism,” as he prefers to call it – poses enormous challenges, because the movement’s ideas are still considered taboo, even toxic, by many Americans. “You’re jumping off into the unknown without any assurance of a parachute,” he says of working in the movement. “Or that you’re kind of taking a leap off a cliff and hoping that your parachute works.” You do so knowing your job opportunities may be curtailed, your family ties strained. Funding, too, has been a struggle. “A multi-millionaire can fund a rather extreme left-wing group and suffer no social consequences for it. He’s not going to get disinvited from his cocktail parties, he’s not going to be denounced by his minister. But on the right – I think even you would admit it’s like that…”
“We’ve been legitimized by this election,” he says. While the campaign itself was a huge boost to the movement, Trump’s election, he says, has brought the Alt-Right to “a new level.” “Legitimacy is … an unmeasurable, intangible thing that is everything.”
He says he sees Trump as a symbol, a vehicle for white aspirations, in much the same way so many projected their hopes and dreams onto Obama. “That made him cool, it made him a force, and I think we’ve made Trump a force in that way. And you can’t measure how important that is…”
He imagines producing a series of white papers that would trickle up into conversations inside the White House, starting with one he produced in October on why NATO should be dismantled. “That is influence, where people are thinking things that they had no idea who planted this in their head,” he says. He likens his approach to the film Inception, in which Leonardo DiCaprio plays a thief who’s able to invade people’s unconscious thoughts. “It’s planting ideas,” he says. “People will come to the conclusions themselves, but the true influencer is the one who kind of helps them, that kind of leads them there.”
On the home front, Spencer expresses enthusiasm for Ivanka Trump’s proposal for paid family leave. “A lot of intelligent women who have great DNA, who are wasting it, in a way, by becoming career gals, and they’re waking up and they’re 45 and they’re living with cats,” he says. Paid leave would allow them to discover that “they really like kids and like being at home, and like babies.” When I say I hear in his words echoes of natalism – a political ideology that promotes childbearing – he agrees, saying he’d call it “natalist socialism.”
He talks cryptically about his contacts in the world of conservative think tanks and media. “They know who we are, we know them, like there is contact, there has been first contact.” He has high hopes for Washington’s younger thought leaders, because “when you talk about people over the age of 50, it’s sometimes hard to get them to create new neural pathways.”
“If you’re young and you’re edgy,” Spencer says, “you’re Alt-Right” – or, he hopes, you will be soon…
What has been “legitimized,” in the Alt-Right view, is the movement’s central creation myth: that white people are being “dispossessed” in contemporary America. Regnery tells me during a break in the conference, over coffee in the Reagan building’s food court, that he feels “a real sense of dispossession” because the country is no longer “90 percent white…”
Trump’s election is symptomatic, to Spencer, that “it is dawning upon millions of white Americans that their future is being cut off from them.” That’s why he’ll encourage his forces to make sure Trump fulfills his campaign promises to not only build a wall, but impose a “dramatic” and “lasting” impact on immigration. Deporting all “illegal immigrants,” he says, would “fundamentally make a difference in terms of the demographic trajectory of the United States.”
“We want to be radically mainstream – that is, we really want to enter the world, we want our ideas to be at the table, and people to listen to them,” says Spencer.
Now, he notes, “that is happening to a very large degree.”
Radically mainstream, we’re the future of the right.