For what the Groyper War represents is Fuentes’s attempt to claim outsider status against other up-and-comers on the right at a time when Trump, the consummate outsider, has plenty of institutional power and more hangers-on. Fuentes is not a Buckley conservative circa 1964 or a Tea Partier circa 2014, but the dynamic now is the same as it was then: Status as a conservative outsider is a valuable currency that helps buy political power, but it depreciates quickly, leaving the powerful vulnerable to the charge of membership in the establishment. Trump Jr. and Kirk risk losing their outsider status. Fuentes wants to capitalize on his.
His strategy appears simple. Suggest that Conservative Inc. has taken unconservative positions on meaningful issues, perhaps for venal reasons. Tie yourself to Trump, who still possesses outsider credibility among millions of ordinary Republican voters. If confronted with evidence that you’re less interested in ordinary political issues and more interested in advocating a white ethnostate and in asking whether the smokestacks at Treblinka were tall enough to incinerate people — which Fuentes is — then insist that you’re being censored and laugh at those who aren’t in on the “joke.” Because Fuentes has been indiscreet about his white nationalism in the past, he needs to sanitize his brand, ideally by securing endorsements from higher-profile and marginally-more-acceptable conservative outsiders. He has 66,000 followers and a livestream, but if he can position himself as the true inheritor of the Trumpist insurgency, there’s nowhere to go but up. Next stop: Ann Coulter.