“Blake Masters Could Become the First ‘Based’ Senator”


Buried deep in a recent story about Arizona Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters is a particularly revealing comment from one of Masters’ supporters, posted on an exclusive Discord chat: “How can one man be so based?”

The uninitiated reader might be forgiven for asking: “Based on what?” The word, a slang term with origins in hip-hop culture, has been adopted in recent years by the extremely online far right to basically mean “anything that owns the libs” — the more openly racist, misogynistic or politically incorrect the better. (The commenter was responding to a podcast appearance in which Masters attributed America’s gun violence problem to “Black people, frankly.”)

The right has been pursuing new and exotic methods by which to rhetorically offend liberals since before the Internet existed. But Masters embodies a particularly modern, novel version of this phenomenon more than any other politician — and it’s made him the darling of the extremely-online right that embraced Donald Trump early and enthusiastically, with their masculinity-obsessed, reflexively anti-institutional, will-to-power view of politics.

The key difference between the two: Trump, a septuagenarian reality TV star with an endless arsenal of meme-able personal tics and a total unwillingness (or inability) to experience shame, was a source of fun and an ironic avatar for those young voters. Masters, a millennial message-board addict with an awkward personal affect that sharply contrasts with his macho posturingis those voters.

The New York Times reported last month on his long track record of message board posting, including a brand of incoherent, quasi-libertarian edgelord-ism (conspiracies about the Rothschilds, anyone?) that will be familiar to anyone who’s spent even a modest amount of time in the forum trenches. His campaign materials feature the new-right’s trademark aesthetic mash-up of garish neon retro-futurism and moody, backward-looking pastoral imagery. He and his mentor, Peter Thiel, are fixated on the far-right pet project of “dismantling the administrative state,” and his website adds some variety to the usual menu of promises to end “wokeness” and abortion with a pro-Bitcoin plank, which asserts “Bitcoin is the hardest money around — and hard money keeps government honest.” It’s all part of the year-zero, root-and-branch upheaval of American civic life that excites serious proponents of the movement and terrifies wary liberals.

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