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Oh, oh, how did this happen?

July 17, 2017

The election of Trump is the victory of the right-wing populists against what they viewed as the more milquetoast conservative movement that was shown in the media, the RINOs and the CINOs. That includes virtually everyone who qualified as a conservative intellectual. Which has many of those scratching their heads about how that happened. Andrew Sullivan is amazed:

And in his latest war against the media, he is clearly winning. Close to 90 percent of Republicans believe the most patently mendacious president in history over the flawed, but still generally earnest, CNN. More to the point, as one new paper suggests, they support him even when they know he’s lying. And he has used this near-blind support to construct, in just six months, the close equivalent of a disciplined state-run media, across various platforms, from Fox to TMZ, to Sinclair and One America, from the National Enquirer to talk radio across the country, and potentially even Time Inc. in the future. In some ways, this media complex operates for Trump the way RT does for Putin.

Bret Stephens sort of understands what happened:

It shouldn’t be a surprise that a post-literate conservative world should have been so quick to embrace a semi-literate presidential candidate. Nor, in hindsight, is it strange that, with the role Buckley once played in maintaining conservative ideological hygiene retired, the ideas he expunged should have made such a quick and pestilential comeback. Thus, when Hannity peddles conspiracy theories about Seth Rich, the young Democratic National Committee staffer murdered in Washington last year, that’s an echo of John Birch. When fellow Fox host Tucker Carlson — who once aspired to be the next Buckley and now aims to be the next Ann Coulter — tries to reinvent himself as the tribune of the working class, he’s speaking for the modern-day George Wallace voter. Isolationism is already back, thanks to Trump.

Let’s get real. Modern conservatism is an ideological movement, not an intellectual one. Limbaugh and Hannity were more its progenitors than Buckley ever was. The “Liberty movement” always has been more about hating gays, liberals, and the federal government than anything having to do with human liberty. And any movement that seriously proffers Ayn Rand as one of its intellectual luminaries is already post-literate.

The conservative politicians said, “we’ll stoke the fires of the rabble and give our donors tax cuts.” The conservative intellectuals said, “we’ll pretend that they actually care about the things we care about.” Trump, an entertainer and conman said, “I can make them feel I am one of them, and get in front of that movement.” And he did. In a way, America is lucky it was Trump who did that. It is a movement that wants a serious fascist to lead it, and what it got instead was someone with more avarice than political ambition. So far.

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