The election of President Barack Obama corresponded with an increase in the number of “Patriot groups” in the United States, which Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) senior fellow Mark Potok defines as “anti-government radical groups.” According to Potok, in 2008, “we went from about 150” Patriot groups to “something like 1,360 groups in 2012.”
Last weekend, four days before the US presidential election, members of the National Socialist Movement (NSM) gathered for a rally on the steps of the state capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. According to SPLC, The NSM is America’s largest neo-Nazi group.
Although the NSM does not officially endorse Trump, they support many aspects of his platform, including immigration reform and putting “America first.” At the rally, leaders discussed how Trump's presidential run has brought white supremacism into the “mainstream” and legitimized their beliefs. In the words of NSM commander Jeff Schoep: “Some of the things that [Trump] is saying are issues that we have been tackling for years now.”
While Trump has disavowed endorsements from racist leaders, many draw a clear conclusion between his political rhetoric and the mainstreaming of groups on the radical right.
“Just a year or two ago, a lot of the things that Trump says — the idea, for instance, of banning Muslims from this country — were considered really beyond the pale of political life in the United States,” said Mark Potok during our interview. “Now, those kinds of ideas are, in effect, normalized.”