Former American secretary of state Hillary Clinton warned on Thursday that her rival for the presidency, Donald Trump, is enabling a far-right takeover of the Republican Party.
The Democrat argued in a speech delivered in Reno, Nevada that Trump is part of a wider “alternative right” movement that includes British Euroskeptics and Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“The names may have changed,” she said.
Racists now call themselves “racialists.” White supremacists now call themselves “white nationalists.” The paranoid fringe now calls itself “alt-right.” But the hate burns just as bright.
Trump — “a man,” according to Clinton, “with a long history of racial discrimination, who traffics in dark conspiracy theories drawn from the pages of supermarket tabloids and the far, dark reaches of the Internet” — surrounds himself with these people.
Only last week, he appointed Stephen Bannon of Breitbart, a far-right “news” site, as his campaign chief.
It’s why Clinton isn’t reassured by the notion that intelligent advisors would rein in a President Trump’s worst impulses.
The last thing we need in the Situation Room is a loose cannon who can’t tell the difference, or doesn’t care to, between fact and fiction and who buys so easily into racially-tinged rumors.
Clinton has cited Trump’s impulsiveness before, saying, “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”
Her explicit framing of Trump as a far-right candidate is new, though, and could help her win the support of more mainstream Republicans in November.
Centerpiece of Trump’s campaign
“There’s always been a paranoid fringe in our politics,” Clinton said on Thursday, “a lot of it rising from racial resentment.”
But it’s never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it and giving it a national megaphone.
Nor is this a minor part of Trump’s candidacy. As Josh Marshall has argued at Talking Points Memo, a mix of racial grievance and desire to reclaim what is being taken away “has been the centerpiece of Trump’s campaign from the outset, far more than any sort of economic arguments or anything else.”
We also know now that Trump’s support isn’t motivated by immigration or international trade and correlates much closer with racial isolation and noneconomic measures of social status, such intergenerational mobility and health.
Still, to hear the nominee of the other major party saying it is striking and it goes to show just how high the stakes in this election are.