Corey Stewart’s victory in the Virginia Republican Senate primary last night is yet another sign that white identity politics is a growing trend that can win elections. Stewart won despite ties to outright racists such as Paul Nehlen, and Jason Kessler, the organizer of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville last year that led to the death of Heather Heyer.
What is becoming clear is that for big swaths of voters, racism and or ties to racist individuals and organizations are no longer disqualifying in the way they were just a few short years ago. Direct appeals to white identity — once a certain path to political oblivion — are now growing in acceptance in American politics, notching victories over moderate Republicans who will not engage in them. But why and how is this happening, and how can our society address it?
The question of whether Stewart is a racist is a complicated one. After the horrific events of Charlottesville, which most Republicans, including eventually the president, decried as a white nationalist display, Stewart was recalcitrant.