When Mike Cernovich, one of the most prominent alt-right internet trolls supporting Donald Trump, was interviewed on 60 Minutes, he used the platform to spread conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s health and to allege that she is involved with pedophilic sex trafficking operations. But he also declared his belief in single-payer health care.
“I believe in some form of universal basic income,” he told CBS’s Scott Pelley, citing concerns about technological unemployment. “I’m pro-single-payer health care. Is that right-wing or is that left-wing anymore? Well, if you have a lot of people, a large swath of the company, or country, are suffering, then I think that we owe it to all Americans to do right by them and to help them out.”
This might seem like a bizarre position for a far-right conspiracy theorist to take. Single-payer health care, after all, entails nationalizing most or all of the health insurance industry and having the government set prices for doctors’ services. Conservatives in America have spent the better part of the past century arguing that the idea is socialistic, would lead to long waits for lifesaving treatment, and would give the government power over the life and death of its citizens.
But Cernovich is less a traditional conservative than he is a Trumpist — and Trumpism in its purest, alt-right variety cares more about white working-class identity politics than traditional conservatism. More and more, Trump fans are seeing single-payer as part of that.
Alt-rightists and other Trump-loyal conservatives — Richard Spencer, VDARE writer and ex–National Review staffer John Derbyshire, Newsmax CEO and Trump friend Christopher Ruddy, and onetime Donald Trump Jr. speechwriter and Scholars & Writers for Trump head F.H. Buckley — all endorsed various models of single-payer in recent months and years.
Even elites in the alt-right mold who once deplored single-payer are changing their tune. Pat Buchanan, the paleoconservative three-time presidential candidate whose white identity politics and fiercely anti-trade and anti-immigration stances helped inspire the modern alt-right, had free market views on health care in the 1990s and condemned Obamacare as a scheme to kill Grandma in 2009. This week, he told me in an email he has “not taken any position on single-payer, and [has] pretty much stayed out of the Obamacare repeal-and-replace debate.”