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Last year’s U.S. midterm elections were not an easy one for many Democrats, as they were braced for a crowded field of candidates for many key offices. After all, the Democrats were up against new Republican leadership, including President Trump himself, who had ousted the party’s outgoing Democratic leadership. But with the president’s team and much of the Republican party coalescing around him, Democrats took nothing for granted in November.
And this year, Democrats also had a new dynamic in store for them as they faced increased pressure for unusual behavior in the months leading up to the midterm elections. The situation has been further complicated by public anger over several groups, including Black Lives Matter, who could come under pressure for inflammatory speeches, even if they are not specifically hostile toward the president.Last night, Time Magazine released the first comprehensive look at the Republican strategy for demobilizing groups that identify as “alt-right” (PDF) and urging them to stop doing what they were doing and join an anti-Trump coalition. It looks at the behavior of the alt-right in the weeks leading up to the midterms, following an attempt by the American College of Radiology (ACR) to cut funding to the organization. Both the ACR and the National Review attacked the organization last year as a time for more radical progressive rhetoric, and in early October took its cues from white nationalists and anti-Semites and urged its members to join Donald Trump’s “alt-right coalition.”
What it all means is that many white supremacists had plenty of reasons to join with the alt-right, and wanted to be just as effective as the alt-right while it aimed to separate itself from Trump and his base. It’s also possible that the Trump coalition will expand to more extremists, even if it stays within the alt-right. The Trump coalition has included white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and KKK members. But the political landscape has changed significantly since last year, and some of those members may find themselves in a position to morph into new allies under the Trump coalition.
Oxygen Database and Politico explain how the Republican campaign against the alt-right would affect the grassroots left, while Coming Together has created a coalition of progressive groups to try to boost Trump’s political ambitions. Think of the alt-right as the potential new constituency of a sophisticated centrist, whereas the Democratic coalition is the broad coalition that will give its party the strongest shot at re-election.
And yet, nothing here is being decided. Voters can quickly decide which candidates they feel they know best and avoid the most familiar and disliked candidates in order to avoid alienating Trump fans and the so-called populist votes they tend to be willing to support. But the movements involved aren’t decided at all. Who are these people? What do they want? What is their core value? The Trump coalition will perform just as well if they find themselves in a stronger position than they already are.