Donald Trump’s presidential win this month was buoyed by a rising tide of the political far-right. His truimph was celebrated by high-profile anti-globalist conspiracists and white nationalists, who saw in Trump a type of savior — someone who would save their country from threatening forces.
Of course, voters chose Trump for a range of reasons — perhaps having nothing to do with the ideologies of the far-right — but the figures who championed Trump are seeing some of their beliefs go mainstream.
Here are some of the most important figures to know:
Pat Buchannan was a senior advisor to American Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan and is considered a prominent paleoconservative. Paleoconservatism, according to Paul Gottfried, a historian of American conservatism, is a political philosophy that stresses tradition, limited government and civil society, along with religious, regional, national and Western identity. This political movement helped lay the groundwork for some of the figures below.
Buchanan mounted his own presidential campaign in 2000. He also contributes to the right-wing website VDARE. Buchanan, writing on that website, recently advised that that Trump should be “gracious toward those whom he defeated,” but his first duty is to “keep faith with those who put their faith in him.”
Writing in the New York Times, the columnist David Brooks wrote that Buchannan’s worldview is “embodied in visceral form in the person of Steve Bannon.” Former editor of Breitbart News, Bannon made national headlines when he was tapped by Trump for the position of chief strategist.
Bannon has kept a close eye on the popular discontent surging through the country in the years after the 2008 financial crisis. “I think anger is a good thing, this country is in a crisis,” he once said.
Bannon and readers of Breitbart did not fit neatly into a political camp.They were as oppositional to the Republican party as they were to the Democratic. And before the rise of the alt-right (a relatively knew term) Bannon saw himself as a champion of the “grassroots tea party.”
“We don’t believe there is a functional conservative party in this country,” Bannon said in 2013, “and we certainly don’t think the Republican Party is that.”
Alex Jones is the provocative shock-jock host of “The Alex Jones Show” and the operator of the website Infowars.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Jones is “the most prolific conspiracy theorist in contemporary America.” Jones also describes himself as a paleoconservative.
Jones ascribes to a number of conspiratorial views. He has accused the American government of being involved in the September 11 attacks, the Sandy Hook shooting and the Oklahoma city bombing, calling the incidents “false flags.” Jones also promoted the canard that President Barack Obama was not born in this country.
Jones celebrated Trump’s rise to power. Days after his election, Jones urged Trump to honor his pledges to “go after the corruption in the government, and at least remove a lot of the establishment.”
Richard Spencer is one of the founding members of the white nationalist movement known as the “alt right.” He is director of the National Policy Institute, a group “dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States.” Spencer hopes to create a “white ethno-state” which would be a “safe space,” only for white people. Spencer is the most public face of the “alt-right,” a term he has worked hard to popularize. Spencer’s institute releases slick videos and sells hip t-shirts and hats for sale, emblazoned with logos of his group.
Trump recently said he “disavowed” the alt-right and Spencer, but some members of the alt-right online seem unfazed by the president-elect’s remarks. “Trump isn’t disavowing you,” one commenter on a Brietbart News consoled. “He is disavowing the alt-right strawman the media created yesterday,” in reference to recent coverage of Spencer. “Trump does what he must, we must also.”
Email Sam Kestenbaum at Kestenbaum@forward.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum
4 Far-Right Figures Who Helped Trump Win
Sam Kestenbaum is a contributing editor and former staff writer for the Forward. Before this, he worked for The New York Times and newsrooms in Sana, Ramallah and Beijing. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum and on Instagram at @skestenbaum.