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Did the Alt-Right Reaction to Obama’s Election Make President Trump Possible?

Jim Lo Scalzo / European Pressphoto Agency

The election of Barack Obama, the first black president, did not sit well with many racists. They made it their mission to limit his powers and make sure that he didn’t get a second term. The Tea Party tapped into this sentiment to launch their successful campaign that allowed the GOP to take control of the House in 2010, the Senate in 2014, and finally the Presidency in 2016. If you just look at it that way, you could be tempted to conclude that these losses, especially the Donald Trump victory, are solely due to the rise of the Alt-Right that was fueled by Obama’s victory. If such a thing was true, this phenomenon, the rise of the Alt-Right, would only have happened in the United States. Except, this is not the case at all, as the Alt-Right has been taking the western world by storm. In France, Austria, Germany, and England so-called Alt-Right parties are gaining ground. In England, Nigel Farage was the architect of the Brexit and Marine Le Pen is the front-runner in the French election. These phenomena couldn’t be attributed to the reaction to the election of Obama. Another explanation was needed. Enter Hillary Clinton and her famous speech where she identified Vladimir Putin as the grand master of the Alt-Right movement/leader.

Is Putin really this mastermind who put his puppets in charge of major political western parties to weaken the “free world” and bring back Russia? Or is there another reason for the recent rise of Alt-Right parties? Before answering this question, let’s just realize that some of these parties are not new. The French Alt-Right party, the “Front National,” for example went to the second round of the French presidential election in 2002, when Marine’s Father, Jean-Marie garnered 18% of the vote. That’s an important score when you consider that the turnout was almost 80%. While it is true that the xenophobic/sexist/racist Alt-Right helped elect Trump, it’s only part of a bigger story. The main reason for Trump’s victory, the Brexit, and the overall “rise” of the Alt-Right is the rejection of neoliberal policies from the left and the right. Neoliberalism is a philosophy that advocates “a laissez-faire” economy with an increase in deregulations of the private sector, privatization of public companies to “improve” efficiency, and reduction in social services spending. In such a system, power shifts slowly but surely from the government to the private sector/billionaire class. Even though the term originated from Hayek-Friedman in the 1930s, as D.S. Jones presents it in his book, the system gained momentum in the 1970s in order to “tackle” the economic crisis. First, only Right-Wing parties in both the U.K. and the U.S. advocated for it, and because it favors the rich class, they started to pour money into these parties, allowing them to win elections.

To play catch up, the left decided to join the “fun.” In the U.S., Bill Clinton and his Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) clearly represent the adoption of neoliberal policies by the left. They figured that so long as they stayed to the left of the “right,” they could pretend to still be the “LEFT.” And the “right,” to remain useful to their donors, had to keep going and thus became extreme. To get more money for campaigns and have more lobby jobs after politics, liberals also kept moving right. That’s why liberals will fight tooth and nail against any organism that tries to occupy the vacuum that they left behind them. Until now, the lesser of two evils strategy worked well, but the 2008 crisis hit the world economy hard. The political solution to fix the problem was austerity and subsidies to corporations. People lost their jobs, their homes, and, for some, even their lives and instead of seeing the culprits prosecuted, they were rewarded. The situation made them angry and the Alt-Right candidates are using this anger to their advantage.

Here is where Trump tapped into the anger to launch his run. And if the fact that “Trump’s message” had a chance to resonate with disenfranchised voters wasn’t enough, the media decided to give him a megaphone. Even though they deemed his message repulsive, they still gave him wall to wall coverage, while the other candidates had peanuts. Trump also had the chance to run against a weak candidate. I know, you are going to say, how can she be weak, she got 3 million more votes? Repeat after me. The popular vote doesn’t matter, She knew the rules and she didn’t make the necessary adjustments. She was a weak candidate because, where it mattered, the Rust Belt, her love for so-called Free Trades/Wall Street was a weight that ended up sinking her.

And instead of recognizing her weakness, she just assumed that the fear of Trump was enough to rally voters to her. HRC was busy courting the mythical “moderate Republicans” because she thought that people on the left would vote for her anyway. She was supposed to be the “lesser of two evils.” Instead of engaging with voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, she was too busy attending fundraisers with wealthy donors or attending celebrities concerts.

Only presenting Trump’s win as a victory of the xenophobic/bigot/racist/sexist “Alt-Right” allows the Democrats and the entire establishment in general to ignore the failures of their neoliberal policies. The U.S./West did not suddenly become xenophobic/bigot/racist/sexist overnight. This element was always rooted in the DNA of these nations. The desperation created by the crisis and the realization that both the left and the right are just arms of the 1% allowed people to be seduced by the “populist” message of the “Alt-Right.”  And because people were not offered viable alternatives, they were “willing” to be lured by the sirens to the rocks. Trump, of course, doesn’t care about the middle class/poor/working class as he demonstrated it with his Wall Street packed administration. He saw an opportunity and took it. He realized that people were angry and when people are angry, sometimes they make an irrational decision. The facts that the Dems brought the same old C that did lead to the suffering that created, the choice was even easier to make.

No, the xenophobic/bigot/racist/sexist Alt-Right is not the sole responsible for Trump’s election. And it is not Susan Sarandon, Nina Turner or Jill Stein, third party voters or non-voters fault. The media and the most “qualified presidential candidate ever” contributed greatly to Trump’s win. In a year where people were frustrated and angry, the media decided to give a microphone to a man who was able to tapped into this rage with his “populist” message. They pretty much let him spew fact-free nonsense without challenging him because it was good for ratings and their owners could live with his win.In a year where the people were looking for something new, the Clinton campaign resorted to a 92 style campaign. When Republican were busy rallying their base, the Dems, on the other hand, were doing a “moderate” republican outreach. Instead of learning from their mistakes the Dems are going on the blaming spree which could ultimately lead to a Trump second term. If we don’t do a real autopsy of what went wrong during this election, Trump might not win a second term but down the road, another Trump will appear.

Written by Rick Eyi

Full-time Dad and part-time research engineer.

Rick Eyi is a Guest Contributor to Progressive Army.

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Did the Alt-Right Reaction to Obama’s Election Make President Trump Possible?