The alternative right and Steven K Bannon

By Conor Holohan

Hilary Clinton says that Donald Trump’s post-election statements and cabinet appointments are ‘provoking racial resentment’ and that his views ‘align with the so-called alternative right movement’.

You don’t have to be a Donald Trump supporter to be a member of the alt-right, but the chances are that if you are a hard-core Trumpist, you identify with a lot of their principles. The alt-right are a new strand of the right-wing and generally sit further right than the likes of the Conservative Party in the UK and on the right side of the Republican Party in the US.

The alt-right is more traditionally conservative than it is neo-conservative or Thatcherite. Value is placed on retaining cultural cohesion in an age of multiculturalism. There is also however an element of cultural libertarianism in their attacking of political correctness. There is a large emphasis on western values and nationalism and a strong instinct against establishment media and political entities.

Their presence is large online, and this is demonstrated by the growth and size of the online news provider Breitbart News, which is seen as the mouthpiece of the alt-right. Breitbart News is the fourth largest website in the world in comments, and its executive chairman, Steve Bannon, has been appointed Donald Trump’s chief strategist.

He has also been given the role of Counsellor to the President, a role which is outside of the Cabinet, but is still a high-ranking position considered to be senior inside the Executive Office of the President. A Former Goldman Sachs banker, Bannon has also been a media director, making right-of-centre documentaries and he helped to publish the book Clinton Cash as executive chair of the Government Accountability Institute.

In 2015, Bannon took 19th place on Mediaite’s list of the “25 Most Influential in Political News Media 2015”. Bannon took over Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in August, and his reputation as a an extremely competent operator and spin doctor was confirmed when the campaign was won despite some large-scale challenges in the final weeks – such as the infamous Trump tapes, which knocked his momentum for at least a fortnight.

Earlier on I mentioned ‘Trumpism’. If Trumpism is ever to be a remembered as an ideological concept, Steven Bannon will be the man expected to and able to design and communicate it, and you can bank on that ideology strongly resembling the alt-right when it takes shape over the coming years.

Though many progressives are suspicious of Bannon, particularly because of some of Breitbart News’ output, many of Trump’s winning policies fit perfectly into the alt-right ideological mould. The stance on immigration, the rejection of political correctness, the desire to protect gun rights.

These are alt-right values as well as Trump’s values, and Bannon will find it easy to mobilise Breitbart readers and other like minds, despite giving up his position as executive chair of the news provider in order to focus on his new job in the White House.

It’s why Donald Trump always referred to ‘our movement’ when talking about his campaign. His support was not merely white Christian America voting, and indeed Trump did receive more minority votes than the previous 2 Republican candidates Romney and McCain, but it was also this new surge of discontent taking the chance to be politically represented. The alternative right.

Those voters who helped to make Florida and Ohio turn red were those who hadn’t voted before or hadn’t voted for years because of political disillusionment with establishment politicians like Hilary Clinton, and if Steve Bannon and Trump can deliver more alt-right policy positions, they’ll undoubtedly keep that demographic turning up to the polls for them.