What an Alt-Right Government Would Look Like, Just Check Out Michigan

By | 2016-09-22T09:00:00+00:00 September 22nd, 2016|Opinions, Viewpoints|

Want to know what the U.S. would look like under a Donald Trump presidency informed by the Alt-Right movement? You don’t have to go much further than the Michigan legislature to get a taste of the insanity that will rain down upon us for four years.
First, let’s define the Alt-Right movement and why it is key to Trump’s ascension in the polls. Alt-Right is, at its heart, a white nationalist movement. Breibart.com reported in March that there are four general categories of alt-right adherents. It dismisses the obvious white nationalists – the neo-nazis calling for race wars, though they have issued their support for Trump in many areas across the country – calling them the 1488ers. The other groups they identify are: the Meme Warriors – which they say are millennials hell bent on sacrificing all the sacred cows of American culture – The Intellectuals, who have laid the foundational thought for alt-right thinking; and the Natural Conservatives. It is the Natural Conservatives they hone in on, noting them as tribalists fearful of shifting racial demographics – witnessed by their support of immigration reforms which ban specific groups from immigrating to the U.S. and crack down on those already in the country without documentation.
So how in the devil’s hell could one argue that Michigan’s legislature is an example of Alt-Right politics at play?
In 2010, The GOP grabbed control of the State House and the Governor’s office. Combined with the 2/3 control of the Senate, the GOP controlled the entire state government apparatus. This was the effect of the so-called Tea Party movement. And that movement, while painted as a grassroots movement for patriotism, was in fact the first time we saw alt-rightism grow in popular power in America.
Ostensibly opponents hated the overreach of government (well, except when it benefits corporations and specific brands of Christian thought), but their rhetoric challenged Barack Obama – from his citizenship to his legitimacy. Why? Because he was black and had an alien sounding name. On the campaign trail in 2008, opponents called him a terrorist. Even today, he stands accused regularly of sympathy and support of the Muslim Brotherhood – an allegation without fact. Hell, Trump himself did not acknowledge Obama was, in fact, an American citizen until last week.
But the seeds of the radical reworking of the Party of Lincoln were sown in Michigan years earlier. Of course, there is the rise of Ronald Reagan and the “welfare queen” myth of the 80s. But in more recent history, right here in Michigan, we saw the rise of a white nationalist student group at Michigan State University. The group, Young Americans for Freedom, was involved in “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” game, anti-gay lectures advertised with flyers which read “Gays Spread AIDS,” and the political movement to ban affirmative action.
Their activism – noxious and supported by neo-Nazis like Preston Wiginton and Minutemen Militia leader Chris Simcox – was soon labeled for what it was – hate. The Southern Poverty Law Center added the group to its list of hate groups in 2007. Bristow denied in interviews following the listing that he or his ilke were anything like the KKK or neo-Nazis.
But key here was the response of then-Michigan GOP Chair Saul Anuzis.
“This [Bristow] is exactly the type of young kid we want out there,” Anuzis, then already the GOP state chair, said on a radio program in May 2007, the year after MSU-YAF’s more outrageous activities were made public. “I’ve known Kyle for years and I can tell you I have never heard him say a racist or bigoted or sexist thing, ever.”
Anuzis would run for the chair of the national GOP, and lose. At that same time, Michigan saw the rise of people like former State Reps. Jack Hoogendyk and Dave Agema. Agema went on to represent Michigan on the National GOP, and supported Alt-Right candidates for office, including supporting a move to take out former Republican State Rep. Frank Foster, replacing him with an Alt-Right, “traditional family values” conservative Lee Chatfield. Foster introduced legislation to amend the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act to include the gay, lesbian and bisexual communities; but excluded the trans community. Chatfield has joined with the likes of Gary Glenn, a lawmaker from Midland and president of the American Family Association of Michigan, to prohibit trans people from using bathrooms that correspond with their identity.
Agema wanted to ban Sharia law from U.S. courts. He pushed hard to round up undocumented immigrants. He brought a supposed former terrorist to the state capitol to make wild, unproven claims of Islam’s threat. He tried to gut funding for HIV. He fought anti-bullying legislation because it protected the LGBT community. He pushed through social media ridiculous claims written by a white nationalist about the LGBT community.
But the Alt-Right agenda doesn’t end there. We see it in laws to increase school of choice programming and shifting funding to private education. We see it in moves to gut protections for unions. We see it when legislation to make attacking a cop a hate crime gains support but laws to make it a hate crime to target the LGBT community are sent to the Senate Government Oversight Committee – the Committee where legislation “goes to die.” We see decisions made to usurp the voting rights of people of color and entire communities through the emergency manager system. We see that emergency manager system result in the wholesale poisoning of a majority African American community and the lackluster deny, lie and mislead responses which increased the exposures for months.
So, if you want to see what America will become under a Trump Presidency, you need only look to Lansing. It is a terrifying, horrifying threat to the values of American equality; it feeds the basest, unfounded fears and stokes isolationism and threats.

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