I really wish I did not have to type the words “alt-right” given that such a concept inherently does not exist. “White nationalists” is a much better descriptor. “Bigots” is a good descriptor. Hell, “aspiring fascists” is the best one, which is why it is weird that all of a sudden they seem to be doing things that are downright leftist in tone. Advocating for single-payer universal healthcare? Claiming that the Iraq war was a mistake? Condemning the Syria air strikes? These sound like things a Democrat would say.
These are lies. The alt-right is lying to you. Again. In a way, Trump is perfect for people who think democracy is a joke and consider Putin the leader of the Free White Christian world (which isn’t particularly white or Christian but is pretty free, although they want to take that away) since they lie at roughly equal rates. So here is what I am going to explain: for the most part, the alt-right loves the same thing regular conservatives love—they just love them in different ways.
Let’s start with Syria. Now, the Syrian civil war is a very complicated thing, which I will not be able to explain adequately in the space allotted in this column, but here is the basic gist: a dictator who governs without too much religious influence is being fought by people who consider him a tyrant and also by people who do not think he is tyrannical enough. He, in turn, has responded by being a monster, using chemical weapons and dirty bombs to kill his own people. This is horrible and unjust and there is really no solution here: back him and you back evil. Get rid of him and you get Putin very angry and there is also the possibility that ISIS associates take over the country. Do nothing and you watch more and more horrible news stories. Do something and you very likely make the problem infinitely worse like with Iraq and Afghanistan. Most people on the left do not want to get involved except for taking refugees because they believe that there is no way to fix it. It is too late and there is nothing we could do except escalate the conflict.
The alt-right believe something different: they have no problem with what Assad is doing. They see him as a secular force fighting off the Muslim horde (an inaccurate image on several levels, to put it bluntly) and do not want white people to die fighting a war to help brown people (however accurate that statement may be). Yet when Trump says something like storming into Iraq and confiscating their oil (which I should mention is impossible on virtually every level), they cheer. That is the thing about them: they are not opposed to intervention, they are opposed to it on humanitarian grounds and optics. If Trump announced he was invading Syria to kill Muslims, they would cheer. There is also their idea that an elite group of Jews control the world and are convincing Trump to do things they like, but this is classic anti-Semitism. Nobody would take Bill Kristol’s advice on anything, and these people are too dumb to realize that.
As for the social safety net, this is classic tactic of far right movements: plant your foot in the enemy’s territory and claim it for yourself. Kasich in Ohio (though he is not alt-right by any means) did this very well with the Medicaid expansion in Ohio. He enjoys a 66 percent approval rating, and that includes Democrats even though he is a pro-life fundamentalist. The populist movements in Europe have had similar success with Brexit (saying they would take the EU money and put it in the NHS, which was a lie), France (where Le Pen has been saying she will increase it) and Germany (where they decry Merkel’s austerity policies). Now, I am not going to be insulting too much by claiming this is all cynical posturing. I have no doubt they really do believe in “taking care of our people.” But think about what they mean when they say that—who are their people? What constitutes “taking care of”? You begin to realize that many of them mean “whites only.” The GOP probably could have passed the AHCA (American Health Care Act) if they said it was a universal plan only for white people.
That is what it comes down to: hate. Behind all of Le Pen being “nice” is the same woman who rants that the French government didn’t hand over Jews to the Nazis (they did). Behind every alt-right person praising Canada’s health care system is a person who would gladly watch someone with darker skin die. Behind every one of their calls for peace is their belief that Assad is a hero. Do not believe them—liars are not worth your time.