Opinion | Royce White Once Led George Floyd Protests. Now He’s a MAGA Senate Candidate.

White’s evolution might seem familiar to those who’ve followed the journeys of onetime progressive icons like Naomi Wolf and Russell Brand into what Naomi Klein called, in her great book “Doppelganger,” the “mirror world” of the far right. More than anyone else, though, White demonstrates how that mirror world is consuming the Republican Party, because on Saturday, delegates at Minnesota’s Republican convention voted overwhelmingly to endorse him for Senate. Discussing his victory on his podcast, “Please, Call Me Crazy,” White thanked Jones and his Infowars website. “A lot of Infowars fans in the Republican Party delegation there on Saturday at the convention,” White said.

Even more central to White’s triumph was Bannon, who introduced him at the convention via video. After Trump lost the presidency in 2020, Bannon urged his listeners to seize control of the Republican Party by flooding it at the precinct level, and all over the country they responded in droves. “Suddenly, people who had never before showed interest in party politics started calling the local G.O.P. headquarters or crowding into county conventions, eager to enlist as precinct officers,” ProPublica reported in 2021. White’s endorsement looks like a fruit of that strategy.

“Right now, there’s a highly motivated core of Alex Jones, Steve Bannon-esque Republicans” in Minnesota, said Michael Brodkorb, a former deputy chair of the state Republican Party who despairs of its MAGA transformation. They’re the ones who are “showing up on beautiful Saturday afternoons, spending, you know, hundreds and hundreds of dollars to attend these conventions.”

On Wednesday evening, I spoke to White for almost an hour and a half. He insisted that he was not antisemitic because his comments were only about Jewish elites, who he said exploited ordinary Jews. He was eager to talk about central banking, the C.I.A. and the growing disillusionment among young Black men with the Democratic Party. It was harder to draw him out on the subject of his political transformation, because he insisted he hasn’t changed that much. In 2020, he pointed out, one of the marches he led was to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis; he’s long seen the Fed as the root of many evils. During the Black Lives Matter demonstrations, he said, a common refrain was that “the whole system is guilty.” As he sees it, the MAGA movement represents a similarly sprawling indictment of the status quo. The “nationalist populist movement that has bubbled up around and with Donald Trump and other individuals like Steve Bannon rejects how corporate America and the corporate elite and the permanent political class has operated for a number of decades,” he said.

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