In any event, the core of the alt-right tends to like Trump, and there are people on Team Trump who like them back. Notably, there is former Breitbart chief Steve Bannon, recently hired as Trump’s campaign CEO, who has called Breitbart “the platform for the alt-right.” Bannon definition of “alt-right” might not be the same as Spencer’s—he says he sees the central idea just as nationalism, not racial nationalism—but like I said, the meaning tends to drift.
After Clinton’s speech, it’s likely to drift still further. For part of the country, “alt-right” will mean “those creepy Trump fans.” For another part, it will mean “someone who’s got Hillary really hot and bothered…hmm. Maybe I should look into them.” Yesterday the racist site VDare greeted the news of Clinton’s speech with the words “It’s happening.” One of VDare’s Twitter followers replied, “shall we tell our grand children one day that Clinton did more to build the alt-right brand than Trump?”
That’s what happens when you take an obscure political faction and make them the starring villain in a speech by the presidential frontrunner: You give them a signal boost. You promote them from internet fringe to center of gravity. You build up their myth. As the ’60s radical Jerry Rubin, co-founder of the Yippies, put it in another context, “To build their myth they exaggerate our myth—they create a Yippie Menace. The menace helps create the reality.” The left’s best organizer, Rubin declared, was George Wallace. When he attacked them, he made them seem larger.
Needless to say, the benefits flowed both ways.