There’s no such thing as bad publicity. Yesterday the Hill reported that Hillary Clinton would be giving a big speech Thursday aimed at the so-called alt-right:
Clinton’s campaign announced Tuesday morning that her Reno, Nev., speech would focus on Trump and his aides’ “embrace of the disturbing ‘alt-right’ political philosophy.”
“This ‘alt-right’ brand is embracing extremism and presenting a divisive and dystopian view of America which should concern all Americans, regardless of party,” her campaign said.
I don’t know what Hillary will be saying tomorrow but one thing I’m pretty certain of is that attacking the alt-right isn’t going to lessen their influence. On the contrary, Dave Weigel writes today that some in the movement are actually looking forward to it:
On the alt-right itself, the speech is being welcomed as a sort of coming-out party; alt-right figures are finding their phones and email boxes glowing with new messages, asking to explain who they are and what they think.
That’s the reality here. Hillary Clinton is a candidate for president. By attacking the alt-right she’s elevating them in this election. She’s ensuring lots of previously marginal voices will be appearing on cable news to discuss this topic. Hillary openly inviting them to center stage in the national debate.
I don’t think that’s accidental or some kind of miscalculation. On the contrary, I think she wants to elevate those voices for obvious political reasons.
From Hillary’s perspective, there’s really no downside to kicking this particular hornet’s nest. The inevitable response to her comments will only help solidify the idea that the Republican party is now the party of white nationalism, something many party leaders would dispute. Hillary needs to secure a high percentage of the black and Latino vote to get elected and starting this debate will help her do that. Also, her camp has been pushing for more moderate voices in the GOP to denounce Trump. This could accelerate that process as people who are not on the alt-right begin to wonder whether they can remain in a party in which that group has a growing voice. Strategically, politically it’s a smart move for Hillary. I get that.
But I think this could be very bad news for America and I wonder if Clinton’s camp has even paused to think about that at all.
Last year we saw a white racist shoot black church-goers. This summer we’ve seen riots in major cities and racist black radicals murdering white police officers in revenge killings. Racial tension is high. It has spilled over into violence multiple times already.
Trump has been criticized plenty for his tone, for his tweets. That’s fair game and I’ve criticized it myself. But make no mistake, Hillary’s speech tomorrow is going to significantly elevate the alt-right’s status on the national stage. She can pretend she’s trying to take them down all she wants but in reality she’s giving them a gift. This is the kind of national publicity the alt-right could never buy.