By Tom Johnson ~
Whatever else Donald Trump is, he’s a skillful multitasker, suggested The New Republic’s Jeet Heer in a Tuesday article. Trump is in the news mostly as a presidential candidate, of course, but Heer claims that his “real objective, win or lose, is relaunching his lucrative brand.” As for how Trump became the Republican party’s presumptive nominee even though politics wasn’t his top priority, Heer opined that there’s “something in the nature of the [GOP] and its conservative base that made them particularly vulnerable to Trump’s deceptions.”
Tipping his hat to lefty historian Rick Perlstein, Heer (pictured) argued that for several decades “the American conservative movement has become more and more amenable to get-rich-quick schemes, snake-oil salesmen, and confidence men…From the direct-mail bunco artists, it was a natural progression to conservative media selling ads to the most outlandish dream peddlers and conspiracy-mongers…Conservative ideology…is particularly vulnerable to grifters because of its faith in the goodness of business and its concomitant hostility toward regulation.”
In 1993, a Washington Post reporter wrote that the Christian right was “largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command.” Heer seems to believe that “uneducated” and “easy to command” describe enough of today’s conservatives, Christian or otherwise, to explain Trump’s popularity (bolding added):
The anti-intellectualism that has been a mainstay of the conservative movement for decades also makes its members easy marks. After all, if you are taught to believe that the reigning scientific consensuses on evolution and climate change are lies, then you will lack the elementary logical skills that will set your alarm bells ringing when you hear a flim-flam artist like Trump. The Republican “war on science” is also a war on the intellectual habits needed to detect lies…
The affinity of conservatives for hucksterism not only explains Trump’s rise—but also why the Never Trump movement has never gained enough traction to stop him. By the time Trump launched his campaign, the conservative movement had already destroyed the intellectual immune system that is necessary to resist grifters.
Tom Johnson is a contributing writer for NewsBusters.