In a recent conversation between Radix Journal’s Richard Spencer and the Twitter white nationalist sensation Ricky Vaughn, Donald Trump’s upcoming primary showing in Iowa was the key point. Both of these characters see Trump’s campaign as a proxy for the unchecked anger of reactionary whites, and when the Iowa GOP polls open on Monday it will set the trend for New Hampshire a week later and, in essence, the rest of the primaries. According to CNN, 30% of Republican primary voters are going to pushing for Trump, the second closest behind him is the ultraconservative Ted Cruz at 12%. Many laughed at the beginning of Trump’s bid, and when he pulled to the top of the GOP polls he was often compared to the 2012 race of Herman Cain. Except he stayed there.
Iowa is also looking this bleak, with the Des Moines Register recently clocking him at 28% above Cruz’s 23%. It will be safe to say that when looking at these numbers, one of the two of them will win, and it would be more surprising at this point to see Cruz pull to the lead.
The issue for anti-fascists is less about how to counter him with an election strategy and more about what this type of turn means for the confrontation of the far right in America. A liberal strategy may be to just double down on Bernie, or even to go with Hilary since a more middle ground candidate will have the ability to dethrone Trump in the general election. There is little to be done in the Republican race as they seem to be leaning towards the far right of the party on all fronts, with so-called “moderates” like Jeb Bush dropping quickly.
So, what would happen if Donald Trump does win in Iowa? Putting politics aside, what you will see is the continued mainstreaming of nationalism in America. The Alt Right has ridden the Trump wave into the semi-mainstream, with a break happening in the GOP between those who want to stick with party orthodoxy and those who are going to give in fully to reactionary impulses. We are certainly seeing this with conservative loudspeakers like Rush Libaugh and Anne Coulter, who has been contributing to VDare recently and has been both quoting and following American Renaissance’s Jared Taylor on Twitter. Week by week, publications like The Right Stuff, The Daily Stormer, and Radix Journal chock up all of their references in the mainstream media as memes like Cuckservative head from the margins into the mainstream.
The reverse effect that this has, which is the sort of dialectic that nationalists like Richard Spencer love to site, is that Donald Trump represents the re-Republicanization of white nationalism. Over the last five years, those on the Alt Right have been pushing white nationalism away from the party politics that it consorted with through Libertarianism and Paleoconservatism. People like Sam Francis and Joe Sobran were dead while Pat Buchanan, Paul Gottfried, Peter Brimelow, and, later, Jason Richwine and John Derbyshire, had been blacklisted from the Conservative Movement. They were shifting in the direction of right-wing philosophy, revivalist paganism, traditionalism, and dissident strains on the revolutionary pan-fascist movement. Their movement, dripping in Idealism and completely divorced from conventional politics, was trying to define a right-wing counterculture. With Donald Trump, they have rushed back to the center, attempting to mainstream their movement in ways that havn’t been possible since David Duke. The only difference here is that they are bringing their racist vulgarities with them, and the reactionary impulse that Trump has cultivated has been accepting of this. At a time when racial tensions have hit even harder during the refugee immigration and recent attempts to confront police racism, those on the edge are being given permission to jump into their racial resentments full force by Trump’s rhetoric. Their white nationalist movement has a chance not to go mainstream as they would have liked, but for their bigotries to hit the tip of everyone’s tongue.
Trump winning in Iowa will open up that platform further, but, unfortunately, the gates have already been opened. Right now it is up to antifascists not to just confront Trump, or to simply catalog and oppose this insurrectionary nationalist movement, but to continue to undermine white supremacy and racism in all ways possible. This means continuing to mobilize with Black Lives Matter, to go after anti-immigrant extremism in our communities, and to defend against Islamophobia. The fascist reaction is not just one type of politic, but instead intersectional in its fear and bigotry. If Trump wins then that is a sign of where we are at, and it means that there will be continued polarization between those that want to restore white privilege and those that seek to undermine oppression.
In a certain sense, Monday is not as important as what comes next for the anti-racist movement. Trump’s turn was shocking, as was the ability for white nationalists to mobilize around it, but their narrative still has yet to break through entirely. An intersectional Antifa project, one that is able to confront them rhetorically, shut down their communication, expose who they are, and block them in the streets is what is going to shut it down before it starts. Donald Trump represents a window for them, not their movement in its entirety. If his numbers spike in the next few weeks it may inform the tactics and strategies of the anti-fascist left, but it will not change our underlying project.