Members of the self-described “New Right” movement, which includes figures such as social media pundit Mike Cernovich, conspiracy theorist and political activist Jack Posobiec, and Gateway Pundit blogger Lucian Wintrich, have boosted their efforts to sanitize their movement’s prior flirtations with the racist alt-right movement and establish institutions to solidify their influence in politics.
Since disavowing alt-right figurehead Richard Spencer in August following violence at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, media personalities and organizers surrounding the New Right movement have tried to further disassociate themselves from their movement’s past flirtations with the alt-right. As they do so, they’re seeking to boost their political power by transforming their New Right digital movement into a vehicle for real-world community organizing.
Last week, New Right organizer Jeff Giesea announced that community organizer Will Chamberlain would leave his legal practice to work full time as the executive director of MAGA Meetups, an organization dedicated to organizing networking events for Trump supporters in major cities. Giesea wrote that the organization was necessary because supporting Trump in a major city “felt like being gay pre-Stonewall” and that creating institutions like MAGA Meetups is “key to taking this political insurgency to the next level.”
Recently, Chamberlain attempted to draw a hard line between blatant alt-right-sympathizing YouTube star James Allsup and the New Right movement he helps orchestrate by refusing to debate Allsup unless he publicly disavowed white supremacy, the alt-right, and the Unite the Right rally that led to the murder of a liberal counter-protester earlier this year.
In further efforts to institutionalize the movement, Giesea partnered with Cernovich and Posobiec to launch a super PAC called REV18 that is dedicated to “using social media to elect America First candidates in 2018 and beyond.” Last month, the PAC launched a contest that promised a $5,000 prize to the creator of the best “memes and videos” that advocate for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to leave his position in Congress. The PAC has also endorsed Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel, who an Ohio state paper has described as a “bottom feeder” and the “most singularly unfit contender for high office from Ohio.”
Giesea said the purpose of REV18 is to blend social media activism with typical super PAC activities and that he will not tolerate any deliberate disinformation coming from its ranks, despite the fact that Cernovich and Posobiec routinely appear on the conspiracy hotbed Infowars to comment on news stories. In addition to grassroots support, Giesea also said the PAC has received interest from “bigger donors.”
New Right activist Ali Akbar and Wintrich have urged their followers repeatedly to create music, art, and videos that represent the New Right online and to use social media to fight the “culture war” on behalf of conservatives and to organize amongst themselves offline.
It also seems that former White House strategist and current Breitbart leader Steve Bannon may be playing a role in the New Right’s latest efforts. Since Bannon’s return, Breitbart News has publicized and praised Cernovich, despite having previously declined to give him much in the way of the exposure and validation that he craves. Posobiec also shared the possibility of meeting with Bannon on a livestream to his followers, although he never confirmed the meeting took place.
The New Right hopes to solidify its political influence while sanitizing a public image tainted by prior flirtations with the openly racist alt-right movement and to activate a social media following recruited with conspiracy theories, disinformation and liberal-bashing to go to the polls and act as culture warriors in their communities.
If the New Right is serious about its effort to sanitize and institutionalize, it will have to address the supporter base it recruited in its formational stage. The alt-right’s racist agenda was always abundantly transparent, and the New Right’s coddling and promotion of the alt-right has primed its audience to accept misinformation and racist ideologies. It will be interesting to watch the New Right make a bid for sustained relevance by attacking its own early fan base.