Ben Shapiro, Washington Post, August 18, 2016
The takeover, now a virtual fait accompli, represents the dangerous seizure of the conservative movement by the alt-right.
Constitutional conservatives can’t stand the alt-right. Conservatives–real conservatives–believe that only a philosophy of limited government, God-given rights and personal responsibility can save the country. And that creed is not bound to race or ethnicity. Broad swaths of the alt-right, by contrast, believe in a creed-free, race-based nationalism, insisting, among other things, that birth on American soil confers superiority. The alt-right sees limited-government constitutionalism as passé; it holds that only nationalist populism on the basis of shared tribal identity can save the country. It’s a movement shot through with racism and anti-Semitism.
Trump himself has flirted with the alt-right for months, from taking his sweet time distancing himself from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke to failing to condemn alt-right anti-Semitic attacks on journalists. The alt-right association came into focus after I left the site in early March–I worked there as an editor for four years–with the elevation of alt-right cult hero Milo Yiannopoulos to a position of prominence.
But it wasn’t until March 29 that Breitbart’s full embrace of the alt-right became clear. That’s the day the site featured Yiannopoulos’s lengthy piece glorifying the alt-right. Yiannopoulos had already given interviews in which he stated that “Jews run the banks” and “Jews run the media,” dismissing anti-Semitic memes as merely “mischievous, dissident, trolly.” He wrote, along with co-author Allum Bokhari, this insane sentence: “There are many things that separate the alternative right from old-school racist skinheads (to whom they are often idiotically compared), but one thing stands out above all else: intelligence.”
If Republicans aren’t careful, he’ll inflict similar damage on their party now that he’s the top man running their standard-bearer’s campaign. If they don’t know it yet, the alt-right surely does. As one of its own, Richard Spencer, explained: “Breitbart has elective affinities with the alt-right, and the alt-right has clearly influenced Breitbart. In this way, Breitbart has acted as a ‘gateway’ to alt-right ideas and writers.” There’s now a path for this same kind of thinking to infiltrate the GOP.
What does this mean for Trump’s campaign?
It means that like Breitbart, Trump will continue to tacitly embrace the alt-right, hoping, presumably, that adherents of its worldview will propel his campaign in the same way it has boosted Breitbart’s traffic by millions of monthly page views. Trump lives in a Breitbart fantasy world, and he’s now invited Bannon to personally decorate that world for him. The GOP establishment, too weak and cowardly to oust Trump earlier, risks displacing the true, constitutional conservatives for whom the party has been a natural political home, and now it looks prepared to ride the Trump train, next to alt-righters, all the way into the electoral ravine.