AL SHARPTON: "Are you on the side of America…or are you on the side of King George or the Confederates? – that's where I would cast Donald Trump." pic.twitter.com/kpmJ5qPoCE— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) August 7, 2023
“The American Right has become unmoored from reality because of their devotion to this singular figure.”— 11th Hour (@11thHour) August 5, 2023
Historian Jon Meacham on the state of American democracy. pic.twitter.com/lre8kMTWTv
This MSNBC reporter finds it amusing that White South African farmers are being killed.— iamyesyouareno (@iamyesyouareno) August 5, 2023
Absolutely sickening. pic.twitter.com/9kcBdtiFoZ
We don’t live in normal times anymore.
The world that I grew up in during the 1980s and 1990s has vanished. The world of the 2000s in which I formed my radical political views also now feels like a distant memory. Sure, there was Waco and Ruby Ridge, the Oklahoma City bombing, the impeachment of Bill Clinton, Bush v. Gore and 9/11 in that period, but none of it seemed to rock the foundations of society. George W. Bush exhorted the nation to go shopping as the War on Terror got underway. The public mood was complacency. I recall William Pierce in his last years railing about the yawning indifference of Joe Six Pack and Sally Soccermom.
Do you remember the bland politicians of that era? It was a drifting country that nominated George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole, Al Gore and John Kerry. I remember Limp Bizkit, Britney Spears, Eminem and boy bands like Backstreet Boys and NSYNC setting the tone of popular culture. Aside from being disgusted with George W. Bush and posting on online forums, my most vivid memories of that era are things like Spring Break in Florida, going to football games, grilling and chilling, getting drunk with friends. It seemed like nothing much mattered. The public couldn’t be moved to really care about anything.
Around 2009/2010, I remember going to the Tea Party rallies and getting the sense that something was brewing in the early years of the Obama presidency. I was writing about Glenn Beck.
Unlike Auster, I’m starting to believe from what I saw of Glenn Beck that he is indeed fomenting and leading a genuine MARs movement of Banal White Nationalists. His audience definitely has a self-image of being an “exploited and dispossessed group” (outsiders not insiders). They really do feel “ignored or ridiculed” by what Beck derisively calls the “fringe media.” They’re almost exclusively White working and middle class voters. They feel threatened by Obama’s redistributionist policies. The photos circulating from the 9/12 protest reveal a definite undercurrent of racial and cultural anxiety in the demonstrators.
Judging from Beck’s antics on television, his audience has a banal (not explicit) level of racial consciousness. At least this time, the charge of ‘racism’ from the Left is not without merit. Beck’s followers certainly don’t think of themselves as ‘racists’, but they share an implicit whiteness and nurse racial resentments like White Nationalists. It is mature enough at this stage for them to conceive of elite liberals and progressives as ‘the Other’. They have a dim, unarticulated understanding that they are “losing their country” and are starting to get angry about it. A significant number of them feel betrayed by both political parties.
I plan on tuning into Beck’s show more often to see whether or not this is just a mistaken first impression. Maybe I’m reading to much into the tea leaves here. I have a very dismissive view of conservatives and seriously doubt anything will come of this, but these signs of growing radicalization are encouraging nevertheless.
In retrospect, the temperature of our politics was beginning to heat up about 14 years ago under the then placid surface of the Tea Party. John McCain had recently lost the 2008 election. The GOP nominated another center-right loser in Mitt Romney in 2012 who was the last of his kind.
By Obama’s second term, we were beginning to have major BLM race riots like in Ferguson and Baltimore. Trump burst onto the political scene. The Alt-Right began to take off like a meteor. Trump ended up winning the 2016 election and it shook the political establishment to its core. The man who we saw as a moderate civic nationalist was seen by these people as an existential threat to Our Democracy.
In 2017, Donald Trump settled into the White House and attempted to govern as a normal conservative president. He launched missile strikes on Syria after Assad “gassed his own people.” He fired General Flynn. He embraced Paul Ryan’s agenda of repealing Obamacare and tax cuts. He hired people like Mad Dog Mattis. He even later hired John Bolton. Trump galloped away from the radicalism of his insurgent campaign which infuriated the Alt-Right. Trump was content to be in power. The thing that mattered to Trump was the fame and glory of holding the office, not wielding power to bring about transformative change. He surrounded himself with sycophants who flattered and manipulated him.
The Alt-Right, too, continued to act like nothing much had changed. Trump had won the election fair and square with a narrow Electoral College victory. We judged him on the basis of his campaign promises. We didn’t care about the gathering storm of scandals. This blindness to how radically things had changed after Trump’s victory is why Charlottesville happened. In normal times, it shouldn’t have been a problem to hold a tense free speech rally in a leftwing hothouse like Charlottesville. The police should have done their jobs and maintained order. The governor shouldn’t have conspired to deny us our civil rights. By that point though, we had exited normal times and the usual rules were being bent and broken. A federal court order which restored our permit to hold the rally meant nothing on the ground.
I recall a memorable quote from Jeff Schoep after Charlottesville where he said something to the effect that he had been holding his little Nazi rallies with the NSM for 20 years and he had been all over the country and had never seen anything like what happened in Charlottesville. There was no precedent for it. After Charlottesville, we held the White Lives Matter rally in Shelbyville with helicopters in the air, barricades, metal detectors and snipers on rooftops. The charged atmosphere couldn’t have been more different from the event we had held there just four years before. In the online world, I was booted off PayPal and countless other payment processors, banned from Twitter and Facebook and wiped out on social media. The normal rules no longer applied to us. Trump himself was ultimately banned from social media and indicted under a conspiracy charge under the Ku Klux Klan act.
In the years that followed, we saw time and again a tendency by the political establishment to take reckless, sweeping actions to bypass old norms or to break the rules. Donald Trump was impeached twice. There was the “racial reckoning” of 2020 when Kamala Harris was using her Twitter account to raise bail money for rioters. COVID turned the world upside down in all sorts of ways. There was 1/6 and the draconian crackdown that followed. All of Trump’s closest associates from the 2016 campaign have been put through the ringer and prosecuted and punished for assisting him in his victory. Trump himself is now facing over 75 felony charges and 450 years in prison. The mood has shifted from complacency to militancy. We are not drifting through history now so much as spiraling toward conflict.
Now, if you are thinking about attending a political rally, you have to ask yourself questions like … will I be charged with conspiracy or sued under the Ku Klux Klan Act for expressing my views in the public square? Will the police turn against me? Does this jurisdiction have a progressive prosecutor? Maybe you are just a normal person like Daniel Penny. You now have to navigate life through parts of the country where criminals are glorified and law abiding people are punished for defending others. The norms of a bygone age have receded into the rearview mirror. Mainstream politics is now BOILING, not BORING. The days when Chris Matthews and Tim Russert covered politics on MSNBC are long gone. Watch the clips above. It is non-stop, apocalyptic, breathless hysteria from the liberal establishment.
If you are considering running for office, you have to ask yourself questions like how will the intelligence community or law enforcement be weaponized against me? Is it worth the risk? How will I be punished for supporting or voting for the wrong political party? Will the country descend into violence if the candidate I support wins the presidential election? The stakes are so much higher now. Engaging in the normal political process even if you are just shit posting online has been criminalized. Ask Ricky Vaughn.
Where is this going? It feels like a fever dream which is just getting worse which each passing year. No one is calming down. We aren’t going back to, say, Bob Dole type elections or the lazy culture of the 90s and 00s where you could just tune out of the spectacle and trust that everything that would be ok.