Donald Trump & The Alt-Right

November 8th, 2016

United States

Activism & Resistance Borders Identity & Belonging Media & Culture Race & Ethnicity

In a surprise victory on November 8, 2016, Republican nominee Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States of America.

Running on an anti-immigrant platform most notable for campaigning to build a wall along the U.S-Mexico border, within his first months in office President Trump issued executive orders to repeal DACA (see: Presidential Orders on Immigration), ban citizens from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S., and threatened to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities that refused to report undocumented immigrants to federal immigration agencies.

Throughout the campaign, President Trump was criticized for using xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric which critics argued contributed to the rise of the Alternative-Right (alt-right). The alt-right is a loose category still in flux. However, most groups affiliated with the alt-right espouse a far-right political and social ideology rooted in, among other things, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic thought that seek to “preserve” white identity and civilization from extinction at the hands of multiculturalism and globalization.

Upon entering office, President Trump’s relationship with the alt-right was once more brought to the fore with his controversial political appointments. As his White House Chief Strategist, Trump appointed Steve Bannon, a conservative political analyst and executive chairman of the far-right media group Breitbart News. For the position of Attorney General, Trump nominated Jeff Sessions, a conservative former Alabama Attorney General and Senator whose record of opposing civil rights litigation led to his failed confirmation as a federal judge during the Reagan Administration.

Trump’s delayed and indirect condemnation of a 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA that left one counter-protester dead after a white-nationalist supporter drove his car into the crowd, further evidenced his complicity with the alt-right. As with during the election, once in office, leaders of the alt-right and other white nationalist groups continued to praise Trump, whom they saw as sympathetic to their cause.