Four Lessons from the Alt-Right’s D.C. Coming-Out Party

Dave Weigel, Washington Post, September 10, 2016

Ten years ago, for the first time, a constellation of social conservative organizations gathered in Washington for the Values Voter Summit. The event’s name was a bit of an in-joke–“values voters,” identified for the first (and only) time in the 2004 election exit poll, went solidly for President George W. Bush. {snip}

The Values Voter Summit met again this weekend, but just one mile away, this year’s boogeyman was having a coming-out party of its own. Three leaders of the “alt-right,” Richard Spencer, Peter Brimelow and Jared Taylor, held a lengthy news conference to unveil a hip logo (based on Spencer’s “synthwave nostalgia”) and field questions about what buzzed-about “racialists” really wanted from American politics.

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The alt-right is happier to talk. Friday’s alt-right presser was clouded by secrecy. It had been booked for the National Press Club, but when negative attention started to build, the club backed out. That forced the organizers to open a sort of media speak-easy, telling reporters to head to the Old Ebbitt Grill and look for a man in “a charcoal suit and brown tie,” who could direct them to the backup location. (A side effect of his professional dress: He kept getting interrupted by tourists looking for directions.)

Yet when they got inside the downtown Washington hotel where Spencer, Brimelow and Taylor would speak, reporters could ask whatever they wanted. That was on brand; alt-right figures write and talk constantly and make themselves available to the media. They also seem totally uninterested in dissembling–the more shocking and blunt the answer, the better.

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The alt-right doesn’t have a political strategy yet. The Friday news conference was loose, with no real agenda apart from clearing up who represented the alt-right (no one person, said Spencer) and what the alt-right believes. Highly aware of their toxicity, the alt-right’s leaders support Donald Trump but admit that his attitude and elevation of the issues of race and immigration are more important–in the short term–than what he says from week to week. {snip}

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Both movements are embracing Trump for what he’d destroy. {snip}

Downtown, the alt-right troika praised Trump not because he was adopting new beliefs, but because he had found and defeated the right enemies.

“I don’t think our support of Trump is about policy, at the end of the day–it’s about style,” Spencer said. “We live in a fragmented, decaying society. We live in a society of moral degeneracy. We’re going to fight our way out it, and sometimes that means using the tools at hand. It’s going to mean unleashing a little chaos.”

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