The Slatest

Better Know an RNC White Supremacist: Richard Spencer

Richard Spencer.

Michelle Goldberg

Your occasional guide to the neo-fascists and white supremacists who have come to Cleveland to celebrate the ascension of Donald Trump.

CLEVELAND—On Tuesday afternoon, the 38-year-old white nationalist Richard Spencer stood in Cleveland’s Public Square with a hand-lettered sign saying, “Wanna Talk to a ‘Racist’?” He wanted to demystify white separatism. “Because the society we live in, if you espouse our views you’re usually shouted down, so I think a lot of people want to remain anonymous,” he told me. “I’m one of the few people who will be open about stuff.”

Spencer, who divides his time between Virginia and Montana, is the president of the National Policy Institute, which bills itself as “an independent organization dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world.” The founder of the website, he’s an important figure in the so-called alt-right movement. As he told one of his incredulous interlocutors in the Public Square, he believes that race “is the foundation of culture, society, politics, and identity.” He dreams of a white ethno-state, which will allow white people “to unlock our potential. And that is the exploration of the universe. That is the unlocking of our Faustian will.”

Spencer is excited by the way Trump is transforming the GOP into a party that’s explicitly about white identity politics. “Trump seems to be emotionally connected to us,” he told me. “Not really intellectually connected to us, but emotionally connected to millions of white people who think like I do. He’s brought this existential quality to politics. He’s asked questions of, Are we a nation? If we’re a nation, we have borders. Conservatives are usually wimps who want to talk about ‘laws’ and ‘the Constitution’ and blah blah blah. He’s talked about the real dope.”

Previously: Soldiers of Odin

Read more Slate coverage of the 2016 campaign.