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Mon Oct 29, 2018, 08:04 AM

Trump's Culture Warriors Go Home


They were poised to storm Washington. Then America stopped caring.

By BEN SCHRECKINGER November/December 2018

In February of this year, at the close of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, the pro-Trump blogger Mike Cernovich trekked to the Capitol Hill townhouse that serves as the personal headquarters for former White House adviser Steve Bannon. The inconspicuous brick building, once the unofficial Washington bureau for Breitbart News, had grown into an unlikely center of political gravity during the presidency of Donald Trump. Now out of the White House, the president’s former chief strategist was still holding court there for a steady stream of journalists, donors and activists.

Cernovich was there to vent. Seated at the long dining-room table where Bannon hosts visitors, he complained that Trump had stopped sticking up for his most loyal supporters. He mentioned some public altercations at which anti-fascist demonstrators had assaulted Trump fans. While the president seemed to have plenty of time to engage in feuds with celebrities on Twitter, Cernovich griped, Trump had remained silent on those violent attacks. So had, Cernovich noted, “that sleepy elf,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “You can’t wear a MAGA hat and not get a brick thrown at your head,” he said.

Following the meeting, Cernovich, a regular fixture in the capital during the first year of the Trump administration, walked out into the dusk, strolled past the Supreme Court and took out his phone to begin livestreaming to his followers about other subjects. He has not been back to Washington since.

Two years ago, Cernovich was an indefatigable Trump cheerleader, among the most prominent of a small vanguard of Trumpist culture warriors who trolled their way from the fringes of the right-wing internet to real-world relevance. Loosely lumped together as the celebrities of the “alt-right”—a label most of them have since disavowed—they hailed from different corners of the web and professed different views, but they were united by a shared disdain for progressives and establishment Republicans, and a shared faith that the disruptive outsider named Donald Trump could usher in the change they believed America needed.

Once unleashed in Washington, they harbored dreams of taking over the Republican Party and pushing American popular culture sharply rightward. And at a moment when it seemed that anything was possible in American politics, it looked like this group of fringe web firebrands just might be able to harness the right’s anti-establishment energy into a muscular and profitable movement.

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https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/10/29/trump-cernovich-milo-yiannopoulos-richard-spencer-alt-right-2018-221916

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