My colleagues, and the editors, have struck a tone of graciousness and hopefulness in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory, and I co-sign what they have written.
However, Donald Trump’s ascent has brought with it an undeniable strain of ugliness. His victory in the primaries gave unprecedented visibility to the alt-Right, a small but vocal fringe of white supremacists and anti-Semites and self-proclaimed fascists, and as Erick Erickson and Bethany Mandel and David French and so many others have chronicled, they did not restrain themselves to idle online threats. Among Trump’s most ardent supporters there is a faction whose opinions are deeply illiberal, and whose reflexes are toward intimidation and violence.
Trump both fomented, and benefited from, a media clique that indulged those opinions and promoted those reflexes. InfoWars and Gateway Pundit became the ready dispensaries of conspiratorial propaganda. Twitter personalities such as Bill Mitchell were happy to peddle fictions, if they boosted the prospects of a Trump victory, while Mike Cernovich and others marshaled online shock troops against the “disloyal.” Breitbart.com revealed the extent to which it is animated by out-and-out anti-Semitism.
The Trump campaign was entangled with these elements from its earliest moments, and the election cycle only strengthened that relationship. Now, they have a direct connection to the White House. Steve Bannon has the ear of the next president of the United States.
My sincere hope is that the better angels of Trump’s nature — or those of his family, friends, and closest advisers — guide his administration. I hope that Donald Trump is a president with whom conservatives can find common cause, and in whom a polarized country can eventually trust.
But supporting a President Trump cannot mean giving a pass to the ugly fringe that has risen with him.