But the Alt Right is in danger of squandering this victory and turning it into their own defeat, for they have not been able to distinguish between a victory for the Alt Right and a victory of the Alt Right. And while it is clear that Trump’s election was the former sort of victory, it is equally clear that it was not the latter. While the Alt Right is a young movement, Trump won only 37% of the under-30 vote – a showing no better among youth than that of Mitt Romney, whose intellectual vanguard was nothing more spectacular than moribund basic-bitch conservatism. Nor did Trump win giving White Americans a champion behind whom they could rally as White Americans: Trump won the White vote by only a percentage-point more than Romney. Moreover, Trump’s victory among Whites was driven overwhelmingly by older Whites: among Whites under 30, Trump won only 48% of the vote. Indeed, Trump’s victory was the result less of an any radical intellectual vanguard for White identity politics, and more the result of an effective, data-heavy analytical program for leveraging Mitt Romney’s coalition in swing states run out of the office of Jared Kushner.
Yet the Alt Right, drunk off the heady vapors of Trump’s election, has fallen into self-congratulation of the most deluded sort, announcing that it was they who “willed Donald Trump into office, [and] made [their] dream into reality.” Richard Spencer has taken to hailing Donald Trump with the Roman salute, as though a lieutenant in some imaginary army that had crossed the Potomac to proclaim Trump emperor, and announcing that his movement is now the intellectual vanguard of the Donald Trump administration.
To call these claims specious, and this triumphalist attitude merely unwarranted, would be too generous. Rather, this self-congratulatory spectacle is so detached from reality that it borders on insanity. Who is to believe that anything more than a miniscule percent of Donald Trump voters had ever seen a pepe meme, or that there was anyone for whom the invective of a Ricky Vaughan tweetstorm furnished the deciding blow against their thought of voting for Hillary Clinton? Who would imagine that Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, Corey Lewandowski and Stephen Miller might have burned the midnight oil throughout October conferring over transcripts of past NPI conference speeches, carefully crafting ads and policies inspired by a nascent White identitarian wave sweeping American political thought?