Throughout Donald Trump’s candidacy, there’s been a heated debate about whether support for his campaign is about economic anxiety or racism. But if you ask people who identify as white nationalists and white supremacists what Trump’s campaign is about, there’s no mincing words: It’s totally about racism.
A new report by Mother Jones takes a look at the far right’s role in the 2016 election, documenting how outright racists, white supremacists, and white nationalists have discussed and received Trump’s candidacy. Generally, these people seem to describe Trump in glowing terms, Mother Jones found:
Trump "may be the last hope for a president who would be good for white people," remarked Jared Taylor, who runs a white nationalist website called American Renaissance and once founded a think tank dedicated to "scientifically" proving white superiority. Taylor told us that Trump was the first presidential candidate from a major party ever to earn his support because Trump "is talking about policies that would slow the dispossession of whites. That is something that is very important to me and to all racially conscious white people."
Trump fever quickly spread: Other extremists new to presidential politics openly endorsed Trump, including Don Black, a former grand dragon of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and founder of the neo-Nazi site Stormfront; Rocky Suhayda, chair of the American Nazi Party; and Rachel Pendergraft, a national organizer for the Knights Party, the successor to David Duke's Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Richard Spencer, an emerging leader among a new generation of white nationalists known as the "alt right," declared that Trump "loves white people."
As Sarah Posner and David Neiwert explained at Mother Jones, to these Trump backers, what the media has largely treated as gaffes — Trump retweeting white nationalists, Trump describing Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and criminals — are real signals approving of their racist causes. One white supremacist wrote, “Our Glorious Leader and ULTIMATE SAVIOR has gone full-wink-wink-wink to his most aggressive supporters.”
This type of messaging from Trump, Mother Jones found, has apparently made white nationalists much more confident. For them, Trump has begun to soften the greater public to racist messages.
“The success of the Trump campaign just proves that our views resonate with millions,” said Rachel Pendergraft, a national organizer for the Knights Party, which succeeded David Duke’s Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. “They may not be ready for the Ku Klux Klan yet, but as anti-white hatred escalates, they will.”
And they’re going to keep pushing their same racist messages after the election:
Many white nationalists and their fellow travelers have been saying they are poised to build on Trump's presidential campaign. Pendergraft and Taylor each told us that win or lose, Trump's run has brought into view a tremendous dissatisfaction among white Americans. "Those feelings will not go away," Taylor said. He envisions alt-right candidates for school board, city council, and mayor. "I feel my job will be done when at the PTA meeting a woman gets up and says, 'Well of course there aren't as many blacks in the AP courses, because they just do not have the same average IQ,' and nobody objects."
Ultimately, this could be Trump’s big impact. He probably won’t take the White House — the polls show him losing by quite a bit to Hillary Clinton. But he has given a voice to a lot of truly deplorable people.