The pathogen has taken over the host. The transformation is complete. The Republican Party, founded by abolitionists and lead to greatness by Lincoln, Grant, Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Reagan, is now dead. Long live the Alt-Right Party, the Trump Party!
Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, is in an unenviable position as this election enters its homestretch. He is losing badly and appears now to be eschewing whatever modicum of common sense had remained in his campaign. Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman who — despite his murky connections with a pro-Putin autocrat — was, at heart, an establishment, moderating figure, resigned.
Manafort’s replacement is Stephen Bannon, who – until his selection – was the chairman of Breitbart News, a once mainstream conservative political website that has been beset by the racism, misogyny and anti-Semitism replete within the alt-right.
The sad journey of Breitbart, in many ways, mirrors that of the Republican Party. Andrew Breitbart’s eponymous website largely mirrored his own idiosyncrasies: evocative, eccentric and – above all else – purely conservative. It existed on the fringes of the mainstream, and I surely remember many times in which I vehemently disagreed with its editorial line, but it was in the mainstream nonetheless.
Not anymore. And nor is the GOP.
This year, Trump has transformed the Republican Party from a proud home for conservatives to an unrecognizable hodgepodge of populism, nationalism and garden-variety white supremacism. Breitbart, more than any other news source, was on the vanguard of that transformation. From an early time in the campaign, it obsequiously defended the Republican’s unholy standard-bearer, turning on one of their own reporters in the process after she was manhandled by Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first thug of a campaign manager.
Breitbart went from advocating for a very standard, albeit extreme, line of conservatism to advocating for whatever Trump wants. It has become a propaganda mouthpiece for a raving, bloviating wannabe tyrant, not entirely dissimilar to Der Stürmer or Pravda. In the process, it has run out some of its most prominent intellectual voices, like Ben Shapiro, and replaced them with avowed white supremacists and anti-Semites, like Milo Yiannopoulos.
Trump’s embrace of Bannon in this trying time is the surest sign yet that this is the future of the GOP. Win or lose for Trump — and thankfully the latter looks significantly more likely at this moment — the new GOP, the Breitbart GOP, will not be one predicated on free markets, few regulations and a strong national defense.
It will be one built on bigotry pretending to be “economic anxiety.” It will be one where domestic and foreign policy will be subject to the whims and caprices of a strong man, and the only constants are racism, misogyny and anti-Semitism. Andrew Breitbart, himself a Jew, would have likely been disgusted to see his creation turn so ugly just four years after his death.
That last point will likely be abundantly clear about thirty minutes after this column is published, when I receive the first of many instances of “reader love” calling me a kike.
Horwitz is a first year law student from Houston. He is a senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @NmHorwitz.