The political commentariat in the US is agog with a report of Donald Trump hosting a dinner at Mar-a-Lago for notorious white supremacist, misogynist, and anti-Semite Nick Fuentes and notorious nutcase and anti-Semite Kanye West aka Ye. Trump was apparently highly taken with Fuentes who flattered him by apparently being familiar with Trump’s speeches. When Trump said that he disliked the teleprompters that his advisors wanted him to use at his rallies in order to sound more presidential, Fuentes said that he liked it when Trump ad-libbed. His flattery seemed to work when Trump turned to Ye and said, “I really like this guy. He gets me.”
Trump, of course, loves anybody who fawns over him, however unsavory they may be. This has become such a well-known fact about his personality that everyone seeking his favors does it once they gain access to him. Trump seems to not be aware, or perhaps care, if they are being sincere or cynically exploiting this weakness. Such a character flaw requires a person to be surrounded by gatekeepers who will block such people from getting close to him but in Trump’s case, they seem to be ineffective.
Ye has announced his own presidential run in 2024. What? You didn’t know that Ye was running for president? That’s because the lamestream media suppresses news about major conservative figures like him. He also ran in 2020 and got 70,000 votes. What really stood out for me , though, was that at the dinner Ye had invited Trump to be his running mate. That, unsurprisingly, did not go down well with Trump and “[t]he rapper claims Trump started “screaming” at him at the dinner and told him he would lose — “most perturbed” by Ye asking Trump to be his running mate.”
In a video posted to Twitter on Thanksgiving, Kanye describes being yelled at by Trump after he’d extended the invitation to be his vice president.
“When Trump started basically screaming at me at the table telling me I was going to lose — I mean has that ever worked for anyone in history,” West says in the video. “I’m like hold on, hold on, hold on, Trump, you’re talking to Ye.”
Who would have guessed that Trump would dislike being asked to play second fiddle to anyone? But a Ye-Trump presidential ticket sounds like a real winner, no? Ye would get all the votes of minorities and people of color while Trump would get all the white votes. It would be a landslide.
Less funny is the fact of the presence of Fuentes. If you are not that familiar with who Fuentes is, he is someone who has managed to make a name for himself in right-wing circles in the way that is currently popular, not with conservative economic policies but with ever increasing inflammatory rhetoric in what seems like a game played by them to see who can be the most extreme. Trump later tried to distance himself from Fuentes, saying that he had not known who he was. He said that he had only invited Ye and that he showed up with two other people, one of whom was Fuentes.
Fuentes has ridden the wave of the current right-wing trend of being openly bigoted.
All of this “strategic display of irreverence” serves a purpose, according to Ben Lorber, a research analyst at Political Research Associates who has followed Fuentes’ rise for the last several years. “Fuentes’ uses of open antisemitism, racial slurs, virulent misogyny and other offensive rhetoric serves as red meat for his base of alienated, terminally online young men who relish this type of content across the digital groyper ecosystem,” said Lorber. “This transgressive posture has remained popular across the right since the Trump presidency, forcing figures like Fuentes to say increasingly more shocking things in order to appear edgier than the rest.”
But it’s not just disaffected teenagers who are drawn in. Despite Fuentes’ performance art-level bigotry, in the last two years he’s managed to attract a number of right-wing Republican officeholders to his cause. In early 2021, fresh on the heels of the Capitol insurrection, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., headlined AFPAC II. While Fuentes talked about the decline of the white race and called for more of that Jan. 6 “energy,” Gosar heralded his followers as “American patriots.”
What all this amounts to, says Lorber, is a rapidly-changing status quo in the Republican Party, in which even open white nationalism is no longer out of bounds. “Fuentes seeks to position his America First coalition on the cutting edge of the MAGA right. By associating his movement with figures such as Gosar and Greene, he seeks to carve out room for white nationalist ideas and policies around immigration, demographics and white identity to circulate openly within the conversations animating the conservative movement.
“By surrounding himself with white nationalist heavyweights like Jared Taylor and Peter Brimelow [founder of the ‘racial realist’ website VDare],” Lorber said, “Fuentes seeks to dissolve the firewall that has long separated the white nationalist movement from ‘respectable’ conservatism, in hopes of creating a future in which he and his fellow travelers inherit the keys to the castle.”
Folks, here is your Republican party. Thanks to Trump, people whom politicians from a mainstream party would formerly not touch with a ten-foot pole now not only have access to the head of the party but are members of congress.
I tend to be positive about the human condition. I find that when you talk to people one-on-one, they tend to be kind, helpful, and generous, irrespective of their general political persuasion. Though they may harbor views that I disagree with, they rarely shove them in other people’s faces. Very few people seem to be sociopaths. I like to think that there will come a time when those whom we used to consider ordinary Republicans, people who espouse traditional conservative principles and would shy away from racists, misogynists, xenophobes, LGBTQ+-phobes, and other types of bigots, will wake up and realize that by overlooking what the party has become and by still remaining loyal to it, they have been gradually dragged into a swamp and become complicit in creating the largest hate group in the country. The ‘frog in boiling water’ is a flawed metaphor (frogs do not ignore the slowly rising temperature) but it captures how hard it is to see changes in your environment when they occur gradually.
And yet, the fact that so many hateful Republican figures got close to being elected to high office in the recent elections, and some actually did, suggests that that dawning has not occurred as yet, at least not in enough numbers to be really significant.