In a blistering CPAC speech following Hillsdale College President Dr. Larry Arnn, the Independent Women’s Forum’s Sabrina Schaeffer, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, American Conservative Union (ACU) Executive Director Dan Schneider attacked the alt-right, claiming that those who identify with that term today have hijacked it for a philosophy fundamentally at odds with conservatism.
“Just a few years ago, this hate-filled left-wing fascist group hijacked the very term ‘alt-right,'” Schneider declared. “They did it intentionally because they want to deceive the media, they want to deceive you all about what they stand for, so they can try to become normalized, and we must not allow them to be normalized. They are not part of us!”
Schneider referred to a meeting in November at which Richard Spencer, president and director of the white nationalist National Policy Institute, declared, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” At this meeting, the ACU executive director said the so-called alt-right congregated “to spew their hatred and make their ‘Heil Hitler’ salutes.”
Then Schneider launched into a laundry list of ways the alt-right is not the conservative movement: “They are anti-Semites, they are racists, they are sexists. They hate the Constitution, they hate free markets, they hate pluralism, they despise everything we believe in. They are not an extension of conservatism, they are not what Governor Walker, and Dr. Arnn, and Sabrina Schaeffer have talked about. They are nothing but garden-variety left-wing fascists,” Schneider declared. At this, the crowd broke into applause.
The ACU executive director further explained why this “alt-right” is better classified as leftist. “On the Right, you have more individual freedom and liberty, and less intrusive government. On the Left, you have bigger, intrusive government, less freedom, less liberty,” Schneider explained. “As conservatives, we know what we believe.”
Schneider laid out his personal philosophy in a brief statement, defining conservatism as “the political philosophy that sovereignty resides in the person.” This means that “you are born with all the rights you will ever have,” so “government can protect those rights and can take those rights away,” but “government doesn’t give you any rights.”
People like Richard Spencer do not believe that, the ACU executive director argued. “They do not believe in individual liberty or freedom. Fascists tend to want big government, big government control to impose their will on you,” he said. “Fascism is actually more akin to socialism.”
“Hateful left-wing fascists are not like anybody here,” Schneider declared, in conclusion. “This deceitful group that has hijacked a once-decent term, they’re not us, and the alt-right ain’t right at all!”
This powerful speech followed three excellent speeches on the meaning of conservatism, where Dr. Arnn spoke about limiting government, Sabrina Schaeffer attacked identity politics, and Scott Walker discussed his concrete efforts to promote prosperity and freedom. It was the perfect capstone for an opening panel on conservatism.