Both major political parties saw their ideological foundations shift away from their long-established precedents. The Republican Party witnessed some of its members abandon the traditionally held small-government and pro-capitalist ideals in favor of populism and economic protectionism. The Democratic Party experienced a large transition towards governmental authoritarianism and economic socialism within its own base. This election cycle had no shortage of political movements, and recently a new movement has formed. Its very existence is the cause of great controversy and division within our political system. This movement is called the alt-right.

The movement has been a recent topic of discussion held by many political figures and reporters within the media, as they meticulously analyze it in order to get a sense of its purpose. Given all of national exposure that the alt-right receives, you would expect there to be a uniform sense of understanding about the nature of the movement. This is simply not the case. The mainstream media continuously describes the movement as being affiliated with conservatism on a theoretical basis, due simply to the fact that both beliefs lie on the right side of the political spectrum and that they share some of the same policy proposals. Liberal reporters, pundits, and politicians criticize the radical conduct of the alt-right, but then continue by denouncing all conservatives for their supposed “association” with the movement.

It is true that both the alt-right and conservatism are placed on the right side of the political spectrum, and that they share some of the same general policy proposals. However, the similarities between the two movements do not extend past these points, for the alt-right and conservatism differ in their sense of values, their views on culture, and their overall perspectives of the world itself.

The alt-right is a term that is given to individuals that believe in a sense of American white nationalism. What this means is that the alt-right proposes the protection of our country’s sense of exceptionalism, our sense of values, and our overall western culture. However, in order to achieve this feat, the alt-right views that the white-heritage of our nation’s founding colonists must be preserved. This stems from the movement’s unique perspective of the world, in which they view superficiality as a contributing factor to ideology. To them, one’s heritage, and subsequent skin color, is intertwined with one’s ideals. Therefore, an emphasis must be placed upon the external factors of the people. The alt-right makes proposals that are aimed at continuing our nation’s legacy of white heritage. They advocate for things like strong immigration regulations and enhanced border security in order to prevent an incorporation of different nationalities.

Conservatism teaches that it is necessary to preserve our original values, but the philosophy also understands that it is wrong to emphasize a protection of our country’s colonial white-heritage as a means of doing so. Conservatism recognizes the fact that one’s external features do not contribute to one’s beliefs. This is morally sound, for it does not matter which particular individuals may share our nation’s values, nor does it matter what these people may look like. All that matters is that our founding principles in and of themselves are retained. For this reason, conservatism advocates for a preservation of our country’s cultural values, such as the equality of opportunity for all people and the equitable protection of our natural rights, while not proposing white nationalism in any sense. Conservatism does share some similar policy proposals with the alt-right, like strict immigration and heightened border security, but the intent is solely for the assurance of preserving our ideological traditions. They are not a preventative measure aimed at defending the sovereignty of white colonial ancestry.

It may be tempting for conservatives to recognize or applaud the alt-right. Some may even consider joining the movement because they have the same political opponents and proposed policies. But, the alt-right’s prominence has resulted in the wrongful labeling of conservatism as a philosophy that is also in favor of white supremacy. Therefore, conservatives must completely denounce the alt-right, and they must unite in opposition to the movement in order to end the misrepresentation of conservatism’s true ideals.