The California event, which was hosted by Charlie Kirk’s organization Turning Point USA, drew a lot of attention because it was disrupted—and not by triggered lefty snowflakes but by white supremacist “Christian nationalists” on the far right who think Junior’s brand of illiberalism is too milquetoast.
Among critics of the president—at least judging from Twitter—responses to Junior’s tribulations were mixed. Everyone appreciated the irony of his having been “triggered” by some of his father’s most ardent supporters. Others were glad to see the Trumpist right tearing itself apart. For those less familiar with the dynamics of the right nowadays, there was plenty of confusion about the factions involved (here’s a good account of that, by Jane Coaston at Vox).
I was struck by something else. In the coverage of the UCLA fiasco, reporters referred to Donald Trump Jr. and Turning Point USA as “mainstream conservatives” or at least “more mainstream.” Writing here at The Bulwark, Matthew Sheffield referred to Junior and Turning Point USA as part of a new “conservative establishment.”
This shift in language represents a victory for Don Jr., as well as for the extremists who attacked him. Now that Junior has been upstaged by the neo-fascist far right, he gets to be cast as mainstream. And if Turning Point USA counts as establishment, it means that the extremists aren’t so far out there anymore. It’s a win-win for them all.