Their whole conversation is here. Few prominent figures on the right have grappled as frankly or openly with the racists who’ve recently gained power in their coalition.
For this they deserve credit.
“My genuine question,” Hugh Hewitt said, cutting to the heart of the matter, “is how to achieve vis-à-vis the alt right what Buckley achieved vis-à-vis the Birchers. And the reason it was easier for Buckley is there were membership cards for the Birchers, right? There was a society that you joined. There isn’t such a thing for the alt right.”
Jonah Goldberg agreed that today’s atomized media landscape has made the challenge before the right more difficult. National Review is not the gatekeeper it once was.
Their proposed solution? This is as far as they got:
Hewitt: The real problem is Paul Ryan’s problem, Mitch McConnell’s problem and Reince Priebus’ problem, which is they have to exile the alt right as you and I have agreed to define it, but which I do not believe is generally agreed upon in the media to define it. And in fact, I believe the left will attempt to brand people as alt right who are not alt right, because there are some people with a foot in both camps. One of them is Ann Coulter, another of them is Milo, right? These people live on that border, and they sell on that border, and it makes it very hard to patrol on that border.
Goldberg: Yeah, well, I find it easy to patrol that border, because I want nothing to do with Ann Coulter, and I want nothing to do with Milo. I mean, I’ve known Ann for 20 years. I like Ann personally. I think the way she has behaved herself has been utterly repugnant and irresponsible.
And I am personally, you know, I don’t have that much power. It’s not like I can excommunicate anybody. She is a hotter commodity in this world than I am. But at the same time, you know, I do what I can, and I think the important thing is to draw bright lines, and you have to ask people, you know, we used to ask people whether or not they were, you know, pro-communist or anti-communist, or what it was, and hold people accountable to their answers. And my guess is the alt right would lose a lot of members once it became very clear to people what it actually means.
They go on to discuss whether working for Brietbart.com, a Web site that courts the alt-right audience, will come to be regarded by the mainstream as “a toxic credential.”
But that is beside the point. As inconvenient as it is for Hugh Hewitt, who has argued that voters should hold their noses and support Donald Trump because he will appoint better judges, the outcome in 2016 will determine the alt-right’s trajectory.
A huge Donald Trump loss could be catastrophic for the alt-right. Its members would return to relative irrelevance as mercenary politicians regard them as toxic losers. They would have no access to power, and the most popular outlets that cater to them, like Breitbart.com, would be regarded as ignorable, discredited echo-chambers. As Goldberg said elsewhere of the alt-right, “I think the wisest course would be to ignore it utterly, but thanks to the demons the Trump campaign has aroused—and even hired—that hasn’t been possible. I think it will be again, soon enough.”