Must-Read: Rick Perlstein: I Thought I Understood the American Right. Trump Proved Me Wrong: “Direct-mail pioneers like Richard Viguerie created hair-on-fire campaign-fund-raising letters… https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/11/magazine/i-thought-i-understood-the-american-right-trump-proved-me-wrong.html
…about civilization on the verge of collapse… “federal and state legislatures are literally flooded with proposed laws that are aimed at total confiscation of firearms from law-abiding citizens”… “babies are being harvested and sold on the black market by Planned Parenthood clinics.” Recipients of these alarming missives sent checks to battle phony crises, and what they got in return was very real tax cuts for the rich…. Republican politics and “multilevel marketing” operations like Amway (Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, is the wife of Amway’s former president and the daughter-in-law of its co-founder); and how easily some of these marketing schemes shade into the promotion of dubious miracle cures (Ben Carson, secretary of housing and urban development, with “glyconutrients”; Mike Huckabee shilling for a “solution kit” to “reverse” diabetes; Trump himself taking on a short-lived nutritional-supplements multilevel marketing scheme in 2009).
The dubious grifting of Donald Trump, in short, is a part of the structure of conservative history.
Future historians won’t find all that much of a foundation for Trumpism in the grim essays of William F. Buckley, the scrupulous constitutionalist principles of Barry Goldwater or the bright-eyed optimism of Ronald Reagan. They’ll need instead to study conservative history’s political surrealists and intellectual embarrassments, its con artists and tribunes of white rage. It will not be a pleasant story. But if those historians are to construct new arguments to make sense of Trump, the first step may be to risk being impolite.