Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trump Supporters to Kill Off Traditional Think Tanks?

The Trump White House is forming a new internal think tank, but there is also a movement by Trump supporters and "alt-right" types to completely change Washington's think tank landscape.  Here is more from Politico:

The "new-right" (known until recently as the "alt-right") is now enjoying something of a moment...disdaining the traditional Washington think tanks as passe, they're taking aim straight at America's sense of its own identity, with plans for "culture tanks" to produce movies that make anti-immigrant conservatism look cool, and advocacy arms that resemble BuzzFeed more than the Heritage Foundation.  They talk elliptically about internet memes replacing white papers as currency of the policy realm, pushed out by "social media strike forces" trained in the ways of fourth-generation, insurgency-style warfare.
For a movement that feeds on outsider energy, its members already enjoy surprising access to the inside of the incoming White House.  [Milo] Yiannopoulos' official title is technology editor of Breitbart, the website formerly run by top Trump adviser Steve Bannon, with whom both Yiannopoulos and internet troll Charles Johnson say they keep in touch.  Yiannopoulos and Johnson also both say they know Trump's most influential megadonor, Rebekah Mercer.

The article goes on to quote Richard Spencer, the president of the "think tank" National Policy Institute, who said that his policy shop, currently based in Arlington, Virginia, could eventually take over the Cato Institute's space in downtown Washington, DC.  "Maybe Cato will go under.  Maybe we'll take over that facility."

The issue of the death of think tanks is getting so much attention that the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, which has extremely close ties to the Trump Administration, will be hosting an event on that very subject next month.