The GOP presidential field may get a little bigger and a whole lot whiter should David Duke enter the race.
The former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and vocal “white civil rights advocate” is considering a run, and he is not alone. According to Eve Conant at The Daily Beast, many former and current neo-Confederates and other members of the “white nationalist” movement are looking to fill in local and not-so-local electoral vacancies.
In many ways the resurgence and mainstreaming of white nationalism is of little surprise. Historically periods of high unemployment and depressed wages brings out the worst of this country’s populist impulses. And those who have filed to run reinforce this historical truism, citing rising unemployment, four years with an African-American president and “rampant illegal immigration” as motivation to run.
So far these candidates are not winning, but they are gaining an alarming amount of support– sometimes as much as 30 percent in some races. And they are showing the influence of national organizing. Just a few weeks after President Obama was elected Duke gathered his followers in Memphis to develop a strategy on how best to respond, and that strategy was simple: get elected instead.
The Southern Poverty Law center tracked 23 candidates in the 2010 elections who were self-described white supremacists or white nationalists.
Many of these candidates benefited from a new umbrella organization called A3P, or the American Third Position. The group was launched by academics and lawyers with the express mission of representing the “political interests of White Americans.”
This coalition has traditionally backed perpetual presidential candidate Ron Paul and joined the ranks of supporters of his son, Rand, but has now expanded to a field of national candidates. And they are looking to tap into the youth vote with an expansive platform that includes abolishing the Federal Reserve, raising the military age to 21, ending the death penalty and legalizing marijuana.
But the real question is will those other positions be enough to sanitize the hate fueling these candidates and if so, what does that say about the state of race relations in this country?
photo courtesy of minds-eye via Flickr