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An Overlooked Maven of the Alt-Right

TAI staff writer Jason Willick is in New York magazine’s new series on the right-wing fringe in American politics that latched itself on to Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. With Park MacDougald of Foreign Affairs, he profiles Steve Sailer, the reclusive California-based blogger who has been run out of mainstream discourse for his racial demagoguery, but who has also quietly built up a large but overlooked influence on the American right, prefiguring many of the ideas that Trumpism would bring to the fore.

After Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss to Barack Obama, the Republican establishment undertook a rigorous postmortem and, looking at demographic trends in the United States, determined that appealing to Hispanics was now a nuclear-level priority. And yet their successful candidate in the next election won by doing precisely the opposite. The Trump strategy looked an awful lot like the Sailer Strategy: the divisive but influential idea that the GOP could run up the electoral score by winning over working-class whites on issues like immigration, first proposed by the conservative writer Steve Sailer in 2000, and summarily rejected by establishment Republicans at the time. Now, 17 years and four presidential cycles later, Sailer, once made a pariah by mainstream conservatives, has quietly become one of the most influential thinkers on the American right. […]

Sailer’s body of work points to a politics very much like the Trumpism of the campaign trail — nationalistic, contemptuous of limitations on acceptable discourse, and laden with occasionally sinister racial undertones without directly challenging the principle of equality under the law. Sailer sees himself as having presented an intellectual justification for commonsense politics, which Donald Trump, by being ignorant of the (as Sailer put it in an email to us) “Davos Man conventional wisdom,” arrived at out of instinct.

As Andrew Sullivan argues in his lead piece for the series, “The Reactionary Temptation,” far-right politics is a major force in our political moment, and its better for all of us to understand its often-frightening appeal than to dismiss it out of hand or ritualistically bury it in epithets. So read the whole thing.

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