CARR Research Insight Series: Two Americas: The Radical Right, Then and Now

In the first CARR Research Insight, Mark Potok considers the resurgence of the radical right in the United States. This piece explores this resurgence in the context of ethnic and racial hatred and political backlash against multiculturalism. Turning to the radical right in the early 20th century, Potok provides an overview of a long history of ethnic and racial hatred. He argues that Donald Trump’s campaign and administration have “undercut American norms of civility and tolerance and normalized the kinds of hatreds that often express themselves in criminal violence.” Potok suggests that this “Trump effect” has weakened public rejection of contemporary white nationalism.

Building on these insights, Potok considers the future of the American Right: “We may not be facing classical fascism, but we are struggling with an increasingly authoritarian president, a political atmosphere poisoned with conspiracy theories and open hatreds, and an undeniable rise in violent right-wing terrorism.” Introducing the CARR Research Insights series, this piece provides a concise, accessible introduction to key themes in research on the radical right.

Keywords: radical right, racism, backlash, white nationalism, 1920s, hate crime