A note on “alt right”

Last week a friend asked me what the “alt right” was, and I realized I couldn’t come up with a definition. It’s one of those stretch-and-shrink terms with no fixed meaning. Sometimes it means neo-Nazis like Richard B. Spencer. Sometimes it means websites like Breitbart News that give a platform to nativists. Sometimes it means people on the Internet who say offensive things but don’t have any clear set of ideas.
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Collective identity politics

The term “identity politics” is missing an important word. It’s collective identity politics. Who you are is an individual matter, but the culture is full of claims that your identity is your group membership. If you subscribe to identity politics, you’re supposed to think not for yourself, but according to someone’s group stereotype. You have to follow only your own group’s traditions; adopting and enjoying other people’s is “cultural appropriation.” It’s supposedly a great revelation when you stop thinking of yourself as a human being and start thinking of yourself as a member of a race.

Lately we’ve seen identity politics taken to its logical conclusion, with white nationalists coming out of the woodwork. In Washington, DC, Richard B. Spencer declaimed, “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!” In German, that would be “Heil Trump! Heil unserem Volk! Sieg heil!” He was answered with applause and Nazi salutes. (YouTube video; may be nausea-inducing.)
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The progressives’ wall around themselves

Insulting the opposition didn’t win Clinton the election — it may even have helped her lose it — but the only lesson the progressive movement seems to have learned is that Trump did a better job of it, so they have to catch up and pass him.

It’s become a race among themselves to come up with the strongest insults. “Racist” isn’t good enough; now it has to be “white supremacist.” “Alt-right” isn’t good enough; according to John Scalzi, it now has to be “Nazis.”
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My votes were concealed in Kingston, NH

On November 8, I voted for Gary Johnson and other Libertarian Party candidates. I live and voted in Kingston, NH. However, according to the town website, my votes vanished. The town clerk’s site has a link to a PDF listing vote totals. It lists no votes for any candidates outside the Democratic and Republican parties. Most of my votes were thrown out as if I had never voted. (See update at the end of this post.)
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Talking about mass deportation

A lot of people have only one thought about mass deportation: “These people are here illegally, so they must be removed.” The reasons their presence is illegal or the consequences of removing them apparently don’t concern them. They’ll gladly help with any program of removal. Finding a way to discourage them, at least to reduce their enthusiasm, could save lives.

The left’s favored approach is to yell “Racist!” at them repeatedly. No doubt people think this ought to work, but so far its effectiveness has been limited. The election itself shows that.
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Principles, not personalities

Before 2009, Democrats frequently criticized Bush’s wars and presidential overreach. When Obama was inaugurated, most of them slammed on the brakes, fell silent, and even defended Obama’s continuation of Bush’s policies. For them, the real issue wasn’t the principles involved, but who was in charge. Who’s in charge is about to change again, and Trump will have all the expanded power of his predecessors to work his will. Democrats are noticing the problem now, but they’ve got eight years of catching up to do.
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The coming raids

What will Trump do starting January 20? It’s not always easy to guess, but one thing is a near-certainty: Massive raids and deportations. He made this a centerpiece of his campaign, and a lot of his followers want to see it happen.

What can we do to prevent it? Probably not much. Bush and Obama have given him enough tools. It will happen, and all the people wearing safety pins won’t be able to stop it. People will be hauled out of their homes and offices. Families will be broken up. What’s to be done?

The most important thing: Don’t help the government in any way. If you know someone’s immigration status is questionable, don’t tell anyone except people whom you strongly trust and can offer help.
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Freedom and the art of persuasion

If you look at Twitter and Facebook, it appears that Democrats are convinced that Trump beat them by tapping into rage more effectively, so they’re trying to catch up. They’re denouncing anyone who skipped the election and anyone who voted for a minor-party candidate. They’re saying anyone who voted for Trump is a “collaborator,” regardless of their reasons. By this logic, anyone who voted for Clinton, for any reason, must also be a “collaborator” with her militarism, with her hostility to free speech, with her “Manhattan project” for breaking secure communication.

It’s a perfect achievement. If you were eligible to vote, you’re evil. Everyone’s evil. Except them.

But that’s Twitter and Facebook. They’re practically designed to encourage fury and promote echo chambers. Talking with people in person, I’ve found considerable common ground, even if it’s just that Trump is very dangerous. It’s possible to reach people with a lot of patience. (Which I’ll freely admit is a virtue I’ve never been strong on.)
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Practical steps to defend freedom against Trump

Before getting back to theoretical aspects of a liberal coalition, I’d like to talk about practical action to counter what Trump will try. The courts are the best chance to stop him, and there are organizations ready to take him on. They need financial support.

An envelope is sitting on my shelf for mailing, with a check made out to the Institute for Justice. The IJ has beaten Trump before, when he tried to grab Vera Coking’s home under eminent domain to turn into a parking lot.
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Liberalism and free speech

Any liberal coalition I’d consider joining will have to take a strong position on free speech. This will set it clearly apart from both the progressives and the Trumpists.

Both Clinton and Trump wanted Citizens United overturned, for personal and vindictive reasons. Clinton was the loser in the case, and consequently couldn’t have a video that criticized her censored. Her stated first priority for the Supreme Court was that any judge she appointed had to overturn the lawsuit she lost. She wanted a judge who’d put her bidding above the Constitution.

Trump is in favor of anything that could let him restrict free speech. Citizens United is particularly inconvenient for him, because it affirms the right of groups of people to combine their resources. If he can get a court ruling that says that people don’t retain their Constitutional rights when they form corporations, that gives him lots of opportunities. Before he was elected, it also would have given him, and other rich people, a tactical advantage; he’d still be free to spend his own billions on any cause, while others would have to rely on their lesser, unpooled personal resources.
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