With seemingly every poll in the 2016 election pointing towards a win for Hillary Clinton, many wondered: what helped Donald Trump win? There are a few arguments that can be made which may point to a politically-active digital culture which was more active than ever before.
The Blaze’s Matt Walsh, accredited author Ben Shapiro, and former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulous have all had much in common over the past several years–they are attempting at converting youths of America as well as older individuals to adopting tenets of Conservative American principles. While different in their unique characters, they all are aiming to create conversation and destroy political correctness in search of truth. These three individuals are very concerned with social issues. Both Matt Walsh and Ben Shapiro have been particularly outspoken on the topics of abortion and transgenderism in the past, and maintain that human beings have objectively true qualities, whether that be inherent value of life or the state of being either female or male at birth, unable to switch genders in any real sense.
This has led to controversy and many on the left to attacking Walsh and Shapiro on the web, sending death threats to Walsh, and denouncing Shapiro. While both these men certainly have unpopular opinions in this time in American history, it is undeniable that Milo Yiannopoulos has been one of the most, if not the most, controversial right-leaning speakers in recent years. While Walsh and Shapiro maintain objective moral values and criticism of society as important character traits (by even proclaiming their dislike for Trump in the 2016 election cycle), Yiannopoulos has not been one to shy away from embracing a new brand of conservatism which seems to be found distasteful to both Walsh and Shapiro, among many, many others–called the Alt-Right.
While Yiannopoulos himself claimed that he did not find himself as a member of the Alt-Right, many news reporters painted him with the same brush that they painted Donald Trump with: a brush which painted them as racist, bigoted, homophobic xenophobes who wished to dismantle what is now modern-America. While both Trump and Yiannopoulos are no doubt provocateurs in their manner of speaking, they have found a large following among the Internet culture in recent months and the past year and a half.
“While Yiannopoulos himself claimed that he did not find himself as a member of the Alt-Right, many news reporters painted him with the same brush that they painted Donald Trump with: a brush which painted them as racist, bigoted, homophobic xenophobes who wished to dismantle what is now modern-America.”
Not all Internet Conservatives alighn themselves to the Alt-Right. It would be more accurate to call these individuals anti-SJW or “social justice warriors” who simply wish to live their lives without being called names. One of the key events which led to the rise of Internet Conservatives was with the event dubbed “Gamergate” which was arguably one of the determining factors which led to the election of Donald J. Trump. This pivotal sequence of events was spurred when a group of women, including video game designer Zoe Dinn, created a game called “Depression Quest,” and, to get good publicity for the game, proceeded to sleep with men who were highly involved in reviewing video games. Upon these men’s outstandingly positive reviews, the video game community, primarily consisting of politically inactive males, were outraged. They saw the game as essentially worthless and uninteresting, as well as found it distasteful that the original designers of the game would sleep with the reviewers to initially boost ratings for the game. This led to news reports of the topic which called the gamers all “sexist” or “slut-shamers,” further angering the gaming community and causing them to run further away from the politically correct agenda. Once that happened, these online communities began discovering Donald Trump’s speeches and rallies and watching and sharing his videos substantially more than other audiences at the time of Trump’s running were. Every day, Trump was trending on social media networks because of the algorithms’ attention to Trump. More people began watching Trump on social media, and the movement grew.
Along with Gamergate being an event that sparked many millennials’ interest in the 2016 election cycle, 4chan and Reddit have been another social outlet for many to find like-minded republican, conservative, and alt-right forums to voice opinions or share events. A surprising result of one 4chan post in particular, resulted in users locating and taking down Shia LeBouf’s infamous “He will not divide us” flag, which was put on a live web stream in an undisclosed location in protest of Donald Trump. One YouTuber made a video documenting the conquest.
Some Conservative Republicans and Conservatives disliked or at least didn’t wholly support Trump during his campaign because they believed he was too weak on many Conservative issues and principles. Aside from that, they also found his multiple marriages and brash personality distasteful. On the other hand, other conservatives, working men and women, and right-wing zealots flocked to Trump because of his restrictive immigration policies, “huge” economic promises, and dislike of the mainstream media–which was already becoming disliked more and more by the general populace. As Trump continued to denounce different media outlets throughout his campaign, including the “Failing New York Times” and other “dishonest” sources even after election, the public was more wary than ever. At Trump’s press conference in late January, after hearing about a dossier published on him by Buzzfeed, Trump was outraged. He told CNN, who cited Buzzfeed’s article as potentially being credible that they were “fake news” and similarly called Buzzfeed a “failing pile of garbage.” The term “fake news” caught on, and now conservative media outlets such as the Blaze, the Daily Wire, InfoWars, Breitbart News, Prison Planet, and more became increasingly popular as people wanted an opinion contrary to the media that they found to be biased in favor of the political left.
It will be interesting to see how conservative and right-wing politics changes over the course of the next few years, with an emboldened younger generation using the internet, and with pundits and speakers who can be both controversial and thought-provoking capturing the passion of a new era of voters.
Writer’s note: I would likely publish this article on Vice News. Sources can be found in corresponding links within this article.