The dog caught the car. If there’s a better way to describe the extreme right’s first month in total control of the levers of state power in America, I haven’t heard it. Now that the movement has enjoyed electoral success by winning Congress and the White House, you’d expect some level of governance to at least get through their policy goals.
But, of course, no—because the right wing of American politics is purely reactionary. The movement’s ideology won’t allow for the measured compromise and democratic push and pull of the US government. Trump’s foreign policy is done in an unsecured location at his Florida golf course, his tweets enrage his opposition and humiliate his defenders, one of his strongest moments was a 2020 campaign rally in Florida.
Of course, the White House has done a lot of bad stuff already. In the first month, ICE deportations have increased and new executive orders designed to streamline the deportation process are being implemented by the “”moderating voice of Department of Homeland Security head General John Kelly.
Trump’s administration instituted a travel ban so wildly unconstitutional that it was quickly rejected by the courts for its blatant targeting of Muslims. A new version of the order looks headed for disaster as well after Trump aide Stephen Miller admitted once again that the basis for the policy is solely on reintroducing the same retrograde, targeted law with a few minor tweaks.
And Trump is rolling back environmental regulations on dumping coal waste into waterways and removed federal protections for transgender students, both Obama-era provisions.
These policies are evil, to be sure, with real and devastating consequences for their victims. But that they’re all the right wing has done with all their newfound power shows the impotence of the movement and the inability for actual legislative forward motion. Their entire political ideology is purely reactive.
On the one hand, the Trump administration is repealing laws with the “Obama” name on them. On the other, the administration is trying to roll back the demographic reality that’s going to eventually destroy the privilege the GOP is centered on maintaining. This isn’t an Idiran movement. There’s no third hand. This is it.
It’s little better in the halls of right wing thought. Say what you will about Bill Kristol and George Will, say whatever you want about them—at least they had enough guile to mask their white supremacist imperialism in the language of the elitist Beltway thinkers. The new crowd, born of their audience’s angry online incel reality, don’t care for the niceties of “polite society.” And with nowhere for the movement to go now that it’s unexpectedly achieved success, it’s starting to backfire.
The downfall of Milo Yiannopoulos is a perfect example. It’s led some extreme right wing thinkers like rape apologist Mike Cernovich to defend pedophilia after Yiannopoulos’ advocation for the crime lost him a speaking slot at CPAC, a book deal with Simon and Schuster, and his place at hate outlet Breitbart as an editor.
While Yiannopoulos’ remarks on pedophilia are repulsive, his long history of racism, misogyny, transphobia, and other varied instances of promoting hatred against marginalized groups were seen as a positive, not a negative, to his fellow travelers in the extreme right. That it took remarks endorsing adults in relationships with 13 year-olds (a position Yiannopolous shares with hate-monger Bill Maher, by the way) for the Breitbart editor to lose his power says a lot about US white nationalism. And none of it good.
But at least now they’re turning on themselves in a public display of internecine cannibalism. Neo-Nazi—and ally of Trump aide Stephen Miller—Richard Spencer distanced himself from Yiannopoulos after the latter’s comments about pedophilia became increasingly hard to ignore.
The extreme right-wing movement is glitching like a bad videogame. Without an institutional enemy to fight against, white nationalists are caught running against a wall on an endless loop like a poorly designed Sniper Elite 4 AI. They have nothing to fight for.
From top to bottom, it’s the same. The White House is incapable of drafting legislation outside of repealing the last eight years of law on the one hand and the past four decades of demography on the other. The ideology that has sprung out of the constant resistance and anger to the forward motion of the country has collapsed in onto itself with its first grasp of actual power.
They’ll cause immense destruction and pain as they collapse into themselves. But at least the first month has shown that the extreme right doesn’t have a stick rammed up its back any farther than its ass to hold itself up.
You can reach Eoin Higgins on Facebook and Twitter.