White Nationalism and Its Challenge to the American Right
Schorr, Christopher James
Bailey, Michael A
The American Right is undergoing a profound transformation. President Trump’s nomination and subsequent election in 2016 appears to have solidified the Republican Party’s grasp on the loyalties of America’s white working-class. The president accomplished this feat, in part, by shifting the GOP towards populist and nationalist positions on key issues; however, he also made liberal use of racially charged rhetoric commonly referred to as “white identity politics.” This same period also saw the emergence of a new, explicitly white nationalist, alternative rightwing movement. The “Alt Right” is vehemently opposed not only to the conventional targets of white racists – e.g., people of color and Jews – but also to conservatism and to the nation’s civic nationalist identity.Though distinct, both events reflect the polarization of the American political system around white identity. The key driver of this trend appears to be demographic change – whites’ declining share of the population – however, important unanswered questions remain: What unites conservatism and white nationalism on “the Right” and what is the function of conservatism in this context? During the 2016 Republican Primary Election, why was it that appeals to white identity found greater or lesser resonance in some communities and with some voters? What besides demographic change – which is slow, on-going, and inevitable – accounts for the renewed salience of white identity?The risks posed by white nationalism to American society and to the American political system are substantial. This dissertation provides researchers and citizens with a richer understanding of white nationalism and of conservatism in the hopes that the mainstreaming of the former (its victory over the latter) can be averted.
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