[Content Note: White nationalism; bigotry.]
My BNR colleague Peter Daou has written a series of three pieces lying out a compelling—and chilling—theory about why Donald Trump's presidential run is so bizarre and often inexplicable: Because he's not running for president. At least not as the primary goal. He's running to be the leader of a resurgent white nationalist movement in the United States—utilizing the unique visibility that a presidential campaign provides, and that actually winning the presidency is incidental.
Part One: Trump's Strategy Makes Perfect Sense—And It's Diabolical.
Part Two: Trump Is Seeking a White Nationalist Awakening—NOT the White House.
Part Three: Elephant in the Room—Donald Trump Isn't Running a Presidential Campaign.
The long and the short of it is this: Trump will certainly use the US presidency to advance his white nationalist agenda if he wins, but winning isn't the entire point. The point is to build and empower a long-term movement and position himself as its leader.
Nearly everything he does that seems incomprehensible when viewed through the lens of a presidential campaign suddenly makes a whole lot of terrible, terrifying sense when viewed instead through the prism of "awakening" white nationalism.
We continue to regard Trump as an ignoramus who simply refuses to (or can't) run a competent presidential campaign at our own peril. He's not ignorant. He may indeed be compulsive and reactionary and reckless, but it's all in service to an objective. Which is bigger than winning in November.