This article was first written for and published in Searchlight magazine in London, which has been fighting fascism and racism for more than 50 years.
As of this April 9 writing, Donald Trump’s supporters include approximately 7,000,000 Republicans who have either voted for him in state party primaries or stood for him in caucuses. Trump has proposed creating a national “registry” for Muslims, apparently similar to the one Hitlerism kept for Jews. He claims he will build a wall on the southern border, and it is not to keep North Americans from seeking a vacation in Cancun. He joined the long parade of “Birthers” claiming that Pres. Obama needed to show his birth certificate, he sent private investigators to Hawaii in 2011 to look for it. His anti-women tirades have targeted a FOX news reporter. FOX news is THE conservative television news channel, and his attack is one of many examples of the half-berserker character of his campaign.
This anti-woman pox apparently extends to Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who was charged with simply battery of a woman reporter in Jupiter, Florida. The woman had formerly worked for the extreme right-wing “Breitbart News.” Although the charges were eventually dropped by the prosecutor, the Trump campaign was tarred once again with an “anti-woman” brush. The incident also highlighted the extent to which personnel from the Tea Party movement and the Koch-sponsored Americans for Prosperity were interlaced in Trump’s campaign.
Lewandowski had worked in various capacities for Americans for Prosperity, including as their national director of voter registration. Trump’s national spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, had been spokesperson for the Tea Party Leadership Fund. Another national staff person, Alan Cobb, had been the manager for government affairs for Koch Industries in Kansas. The Koch Brothers, who will likely pore over four million dollars into conservative and libertarian politics this year, are widely targeted on the left as the source of every social ailment. They do fund Americans for Prosperity. They most definitely do not support Trump for President, however. IREHR’s research has found that they do not financially support Tea Party organizations.
At Trump’s state and local level, more Tea Party and Americans for Prosperity persons can be found. His South Carolina Field Director, Gerri McDaniel, for example, was a co-founder of the Myrtle Beach Tea Party and an organizer of that state’s Tea Party Coalition convention. And there are more such personnel stacked in Arizona, Florida, Georgia and elsewhere. A poll of Tea Parties in Florida did choose Trump as their standard bearer.
Nevertheless, organizational leaders from Tea Party Patriots and Tea Party Nation do not support Trump, but tout him as an unvarnished liberal, not conservative enough for their taste. They back Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a Tea Party favorite since 2010. Any analysis of the far right has to include these differences among leaders, staff and rank-and-filers. IREHR’s readers have to do much more than simply point at the Koch brothers and other super-rich right-wing funders. To stop the Tea Parties and Americans for Prosperity, we must understand these complex dynamics.
The same is true of the white nationalist movement. Many white nationalists, including David Duke, have complained of Trump’s ties with “Zionists.” Indeed, Trump’s Deputy Campaign Manager was the Southwest Regional Director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 2014. Nevertheless, Trump has received support from white nationalists, including American Renaissance boss Jared Taylor and from attorney William Johnson, chairman of the American Freedom Party, formerly known as American Third Position Party. Johnson is also the Treasurer of American National Super PAC, which has been supporting Trump with a phone call campaign. (Duke eventually declared his support for Trump.)
In 2008, white nationalists were cast adrift by President Obama’s victory. The movement did not die. It did not disappear. But the election of Obama, in which he received numbers of votes from white people, left the movement without a strategic rudder. Today, however, the white-ists are picking up strength and strategy. Last year the issue of Confederate flags and monuments ginned up their ranks. Opposition to black youth protesting police racism has also spilled white-ists into the street. And now Trump, with his barely disguised version of white dispossession (a fanciful lie, at best), has given them a voice in the election process.
The Tea Parties, which a number of writers on the left had declared dead on multiple occasions, kept rising up nonetheless. IREHR’s 2015 count still showed the movement growing, although at a much slower pace than in 2010.
Similarly, the rapidly multiplying militias, have drawn gunners out of the Tea Parties and from the anti-immigrant Aryans. They have grown in the aftermath of the Oregon wilderness occupation. A November election defeat of Trump can be expected to shift more Tea Partiers, sick with the failures of electioneering, into the militia ranks. Indeed, at this time next year, we can expect the far right racists and bigots to be independently stronger, not weaker, than they are now.
Protests Against Trump
Individuals and small groups have showed up outside and inside Trump rallies ever since the first primaries showed his strength. The protestors have been arrested and thrown out of rallies. On occasion, from the podium Trump has threatened violence against the protestors, and his supporters have been happy to sucker-punch protestors when the opportunity appeared. In Chicago, in mid-March, a broad-based coalition mounted thousands to protest Trump’s appearance there, and he was forced to cancel the event. In the aftermath, larger protests have followed Trump in many locations, including Kansas City, Pittsburgh and New York among other locales.
Further, some of the Republican Party establishment has congealed around Texas Senator Ted Cruz as the alternative to Donald Trump. Cruz, a homophobic, anti-immigrant favorite of the Tea Party movement first elected senator in 2012, is currently trailing Trump in the party delegate count necessary to win the nomination. Trump has said “riots” will ensue if he does not receive the Republican Party’s nod.
Opinion pollsters claim that a decisive majority of potential voters are likely to vote against Trump. Some Democratic Party leaders think that a Trump Republican candidacy could mean that Democrats win not just the presidency, but also the control of the Senate and possibly the House of Representatives. Democratic Party control of both the Executive and Legislative branches of government could insure that they soon controlled the Supreme Court as well.
If a Democratic election sweep occurs in November, as it did when President Obama was elected in 2008, progressive activists of every stripe will likely push hard for essential reforms. There are pressing needs for voting rights, curbing racist policing, policy toward labor unions, reproductive rights, LGBQT civil rights, job creation and other areas of concern. IREHR will applaud every possible effort to move forward.
The Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights will not, however, make the mistake that was made after the election of President Barack Obama. Please let me repeat that. After Obama’s election in 2009, many prominent progressive voices claimed that the far right was dead. It was a mistake made repeatedly, particularly with regard to the Tea Party movement. This failure to acknowledge the far right in 2009, laid the basis for the right-wing success that followed. In conclusion, IREHR notes now the danger that is likely to appear later, even if Trump finally falls.