I’m sure that no one reading this was surprised that Steve King holds white supremacist views. As many have pointed out, he has a long history of racist remarks, and makes no apologies for them. But his support of extreme right Dutch politician Geert Wilders might have come as a surprise. Why on earth is Steve King invested in an election in another country? Isn’t King a nationalist?
It’s important to remember that the so-called alt-right see themselves as part of a broader global movement. Vox actually explains this really well, in an article outlining King and Wilders’ lengthy association with one another:
The longstanding affinity between the two politicians tells us something important about modern politics. Far-right politicians are organizing, developing networks and alliances with like-minded xenophobes throughout Europe and the United States. The nationalists are building an international movement — creating a kind of global movement dedicated to slowing immigration to the West.
Rep. King wasn’t the only one. The frog squad were collectively obsessed with the Dutch elections. They’ve dominated the extreme right’s conversation online all week. Most of the Dutch Freedom Party’s donors were Americans. Much in the way they’re similarly invested in Marine Le Pen’s presidential campaign in France. (Though hilariously there was some grumbling online at Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s call for a second Scottish Independence referendum. They’re all about nation states, unless that nation wants to become independent in opposition of their agenda.) Theirs is a global movement for white supremacy, of which Donald Trump is just one cog.
This obsession soaks up a lot of the oxygen in their online spaces. To the point where there’s still hardly a peep about Trumpcare, much less any interest in organizing around it. The only interest the frog squad showed in that debate this week was taking down Paul Ryan. They became gleeful when Breitbart ran a hit piece on Ryan with the obvious intention of driving a wedge between him and Trump. But that glee was short-lived, and almost immediately, they went right back to the Netherlands.
Trumpcare has no echo chamber, none of the amplification or validation that helped Trump dominate the narrative during his campaign. I suspect this won’t be the only legislation where that’s the case. The frog squad aren’t out to build, they’re out to break things. If Trumpcare dies in the House, their lack of interest will have played a role.
Steve Bannon seems similarly disinterested in Trumpcare. Based on how Breitbart went after Paul Ryan this week, I’d guess he calculated that weakening Ryan was more valuable than the White House showing any leadership on health care.
It’s important for the opposition to understand the motivations of the frog squad: they’re willing to fight like hell to further their white nationalist values: the wall, foreign policy changes, travel bans, etc. And they’re generally not committed to using the legislative process to achieve them unless they absolutely have to. That agenda doesn’t always align with Tea Party Republicans who are eager to take advantage of the partisan majority to put their Randian theories on entitlements in effect.
While both factions share the goal of breaking government, their competing agendas create a tension that can potentially be exploited.
The Netherlands rejected Geert Wilders’ and his extreme right party by a large margin this week. Steve King remains in Congress, because the GOP are now the party of white nationalism. And as Samantha Bee pointed out on her show this week, there’s pretty much nothing a Republican white dude in Congress can do that will get him fired right now.
The above is an excerpt from Ctrl Alt Right Delete, a weekly newsletter devoted to understanding how the right operates online and developing strategies and tactics to fight back.