Admitting Donald Trump’s brand of conservative politics likely cost the Republican Party control of the House is something supporters of the nation’s alt-right movement aren’t willing to do.
Instead, several key white nationalist figures — including American Renaissance founder Jared Taylor, Altright.com founder Richard Spencer and YouTuber Vincent James Foxx — are blaming Republicans’ midterm losses on GOP leaders’ alleged attempts to distance their party from white identity politics.
During a Sunday episode of his Red Elephants YouTube vlog, James Foxx took issue with what he described as a lack of focus on immigration by Trump and Republicans in Congress during their midterm campaign efforts. He quoted from British political scientist Eric Kaufmann’s recent book Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration and the Future of White Majorities to illustrate his point that white identity politics and xenophobia are what fueled Trump’s rise.
“‘White majority concerns over immigration is the main cause of the populist rise in the West,’” James Foxx told his 174,000 YouTube subscribers, reading a line from Kaufman’s book. “That is why people didn’t show up for Donald Trump as much as they did in 2016, because he didn’t focus on immigration enough. He focused on the economy. He talked about black jobs, black unemployment, Hispanic unemployment. Well, guess what? Black men voted more for the Democrats this time than they did in 2016. Black people overall voted the same that they did in 2016.”
Both James Foxx and Taylor focused much of their criticism of Republicans and Trump on their party’s embrace of the brand of conservatism championed by Turning Point USA and Candace Owens, the black conservative who recently launched her “Blexit” campaign to persuade black Americans to stop voting with Democrats en masse.
Turning Point, which routinely brings conservative speakers to college campuses across the United States, was popular among alt-right activists during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign until founder Charlie Kirk sought to distance the group from white nationalists. Kirk hired Owens in 2017. Since then, he and Owens have built a strong relationship with the White House while creating what some consider to be a right-wing version of multicultural identity politics. It’s a political framework many on the right criticize about their opponents on the left. In 2018, Turning Point hosted summits for women and Latinos. Most recently the group held its Young Black Leadership Summit at the White House, where Trump addressed a room full of MAGA hat-wearing black supporters.
During a post-midterms episode of his American Renaissance podcast, Taylor pointed out that despite lots of talk of appealing to African-Americans throughout 2018, Republicans gained almost no ground with black voters nationally when compared to Trump’s share of the black vote during the 2016 election. GOP candidates nationwide received 9% of the black vote on Nov. 6, according to CNN exit polls, while Trump received 8% of the black vote in 2016, according to Pew Research Center.
“As we found out, there was no Blexit,” Taylor’s podcast co-host Paul Kersey noted on Wednesday.
Taylor said the idea that Republicans will ever win a sizable portion of votes from black Americans is a “persistent myth” among GOP supporters and that the party of Iowa Rep. Steve King, who’s come under fire for flirting with white nationalism, instead should focus on turning out white voters en masse.
“Most Republicans are afraid of their own white shadow,” Taylor said. “This concept of minority outreach is a bridge that takes you absolutely no where... Are you listening Republican strategists? Are you paying attention?”
Spencer spent election night tweeting about how Trump had shunned the alt-right to his own political peril and that Trump’s die-hard white nationalist supporters like America First podcast host Nick Fuentes failed to criticize Trump when the president prioritized mainstream Republican issues like tax cuts and killing the Affordable Care Act over white nationalist priorities like building a wall along the nation’s southern border and stopping non-white immigration.
“The Republican establishment never wanted Trump’s 2016 agenda,” Spencer tweeted on Nov. 6. “It is Trump who acquiesced to establishment Republicans again and again — even appointing them to positions of influence... If you think Trump-led immigration reform is happening, I’d be happy to sell you the Eiffel Tower,” he added.
In reality, Trump has continued to implement anti-immigrant policies throughout 2018, but his efforts have been stymied by a Congress that won’t appropriate enough money for a border wall and federal judges who say Trump’s immigration policies are unconstitutional.
The president’s attempt to end Temporary Protective Status for African, Caribbean and Latin-American immigrants was blocked by a federal judge in October. The same is true of his attempts to kill DACA, which was blocked on Nov. 8 by a panel of ninth circuit federal judges. DACA’s fate appears destined to be decided on by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Deportations under Trump hit a record high in 2018, according to a recent report from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. And Republicans ran a series of negative ads capitalizing on reports about the Latin American caravan traveling to the United States from Central and South America. In fact, one could argue the real blame for Republicans’ midterm losses is the anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies that white nationalists covet.
The president’s remarks about the caravan have been credited with inspiring MAGA bomber Cesar Sayoc to send pipe bombs to the homes and offices of several of Trump’s political enemies, including CNN. The same anti-Semitic conspiracy theory Trump referenced during an October press conference was the subject of Tree of Life Synagogue shooter Robert Bowers’ social media posts before Bowers went on his Oct. 27 killing spree in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
These violent and hateful incidents may have compelled educated, suburban white Americans not to vote for Republicans on Nov. 6 the way they did for Trump two years prior. A week before the midterm election, the New York Times noted “a generational break with the Republican Party among educated, wealthier whites — especially white women.”
“[They] like the party’s pro-business policies, but recoil from President Trump’s divisive language on race and gender,” reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns noted. “Rather than seeking to coax voters like these back into the Republican coalition, Mr. Trump appears to have all but written them off, spending the final days of the campaign delivering a scorching message about preoccupations like birthright citizenship and a migrant ‘invasion’ from Mexico that these voters see through as alarmist.”
Indeed, exit polling data showed white suburban voters helped turn the tide against Republicans this election cycle in every region except the former slave-owning states in the southeast, according to the Washington Post.
So it appears Trump is still the guy the alt-right supported in 2016, but some in the electorate that backed him two years ago have changed their views on his views, at least for now.
“[Exit polling data] does show that the country is souring, all racial groups are souring, on Donald Trump,” Kersey acknowledged reluctantly.
Still, many among the alt-right’s ranks believe Trump-ism can win again in 2020 if the president doubles down on what got him elected the first time. James Foxx said he hopes Trump has learned his lesson.
“I think that [Trump] recognizes this now, that this populist uprising was because of this white shift,” he said Sunday. “If he focuses hard on immigration for the next two years, his base will turn out again. That populist rise that he still has a lot of people will turn out in 2020 and [Republicans] will sweep.”