They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker
Johnson is the chairman of the American Freedom Party, a white nationalist political party, and the founder of a super PAC that plans to blanket early voting states with robocalls encouraging voters to turn out for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. As TPM reported Saturday, voters in Iowa got their first taste of the automated recordings—which heaped praise on Trump’s anti-immigrant views—from the American National Super PAC this weekend. It branded Trump its "Great White Hope" in a press release for the robocall campaign.
The super PAC, founded in November 2015, was known as the American National Trump Super PAC until the Federal Election Commission informed Johnson that a PAC unaffiliated with a particular candidate cannot bear that candidate’s name.
Johnson told TPM that he's never communicated with Trump or any members of his campaign. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks initially responded to TPM's phone call requesting comment, but did not follow up with a statement from the campaign.
In the first batch of robocalls, Johnson identified himself only as a “farmer and white nationalist.” But that description sells short his work as one of the country’s most active white supremacists.
According to a 2008 article in the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, a Los Angeles daily focused on law and the courts, Johnson made waves as a young attorney after he was revealed to be the author behind a pseuodonymously published book that advocated repealing the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. “Amendment to the Constitution,” published in 1985 under the pen name James O. Pace, laid out Johnson’s proposal that “No person shall be a citizen of the United States unless he is a non-Hispanic white of the European race…Only citizens shall have the right and privilege to reside permanently in the United States.”
Johnson laughed while recounting the media furor that followed the book’s publication, recalling that the office for his advocacy group was bombed at the time.
Asked if he still endorses the proposals laid out in “Amendment to the Constitution,” Johnson replied, “I strongly want a white ethno-state, a country made up of only white people. How large that is, I don’t know. But I think that’s the only way western civilization and the white race will survive.”
Johnson continued his white supremacist advocacy by running for congressional seats in Wyoming in 1989 and Arizona in 2006, pushing an anti-immigration, anti-affirmative action platform.
Then he was elected the chairman of the white nationalist organization American Third Position in 2009, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The group changed its name to the American Freedom Party in 2013, telling the SPLC that their “surprisingly strong finish” in the 2012 presidential elections spurred the renaming. AFP candidate Merlin Miller won about 2,700 votes nationwide in that race.
Trump’s platform, which includes forcibly deporting the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. and temporarily banning all Muslims from entering the country, gave the AFP a mainstream candidate that shared many of its concerns.
“We agree with a lot of the things he says," Johnson said. "Not everything he says, and we’re not Republicans, but we agree with him primarily because of his anti-immigration stances.”
The AFP has its own candidate for the 2016 race: a minor Reagan administration appointee named Robert Whitaker, whose campaign slogan is “Diversity is the codeword for white genocide.”
But the party sees no conflict in endorsing Whitaker and Trump simultaneously.
“Donald Trump’s campaign may help remind Americans that all genocide, even against white people, is evil," Whitaker notes in a statement on the AFP’s website. "My campaign is there to help keep the candidates on point regarding race in America.”
Johnson has assembled an all-star cast of white nationalists to assist him in spreading Trump’s message. The first round of robocalls featured Rev. Donald Tan, a Filipino-American minister, and Jared Taylor, founder of the white
supremacist magazine American Renaissance. Johnson told TPM that a number of additional Trump supporters would eventually lend their endorsements to the American National Super PAC's efforts.
Taylor also serves as the spokesman for the Council of Concerned Citizens, a white nationalist group Charleston shooter Dylann Roof credited with making him aware of the problem of “brutal black on White murders” in the U.S.
After Roof gunned down nine parishioners at a historically black church in June 2015, Taylor condemned the killings but defended the “legitimacy” of Roof’s grievances.
In a Monday phone interview with TPM, Taylor called Trump “the first candidate in many, many years to take positions that may in fact be beneficial to the white majority.”
“Most white people, whether they say so or not, would prefer to live in a majority white neighborhood, in a majority white country but they’re too terrified to say it,” Taylor continued. “And the idea of restricting immigration and sending back illegal immigrants is very encouraging to such people.”
Taylor said he has supported Trump’s campaign since the real estate mogul's initial announcement in June, in which he described immigrants from Mexico as “rapists" and "criminals.” Taylor said that anti-immigrant sentiment is “the only reason” Trump has remained at the top of national polls.
“The people who support Donald Trump go all the way from people who are annoyed by ‘press 1 for English’ to people like me who have a sophisticated understanding of race, but they’re all motivated basically by the same thing and that is the historical American nation being transformed and dispossessed," he said. "There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting one’s nation to continue as it is.”
White supremacist groups and publications have been glomming onto Trump's candidacy since its earliest days, but the GOP frontrunner has mostly avoided commenting on their support. When Bloomberg asked Trump about former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke's public praise for his immigration platform, the real estate mogul replied, “People like me across the board. Everyone likes me.”
Taylor and Johnson didn't seem concerned about the possibility of hurting Trump's favorability among more moderate Republican voters by connecting him to an explicitly pro-white message, either.
Johnson, who thinks it is “inevitable” that Trump will be elected President, acknowledged that the current GOP frontrunner would need the support of centrist conservatives to secure the nomination. But he heaped scorn on what he termed “complacent, middle-of-the-road, centrist Republicans,” calling them “the biggest enemy of the future of western civilization.”
They have “led this country down its path toward irreversible decline,” he said, adding: “I hope my message campaign destroys the middle-of-the-road establishment Republicans.”
Johnson and Taylor also seemed unmoved by the notion that denigrating minority voters may hurt the Republican Party’s chances of winning the election in a country where demographics are rapidly shifting. After the GOP lost the 2012 presidential race, the party released an autopsy report arguing that it needed to do a better job of reaching out to female, Latino and black voters.
Johnson said the American Freedom Party has the support of “just tons of non-whites.”
“We have a lot of supporters who are not white, ‘cause they think that the white population has really retreated from the world stage,” he told TPM. “We’re doing this for everybody.”
As for Taylor, he said non-white Americans “will fit in wherever they fit in.”