Ex-Republican reveals how the conservative movement is a total scam — and GOP voters are 'Trump’s willing marks'
Max Boot has left the Republican Party, and he has some harsh words for the conservative movement he left behind.
The whole ideology has become a "racket," he argues in a new op-ed for the Washington Post, a development he dates to 1996 when Fox News was launched. The latest revelations about the NRA, from the vice president Wayne LaPierre's profligate spending to the various self-dealing projects spearheaded by the organization's top executives, only hammer the point home.
Of course, the most obvious sign of the hollowness of conservatism is its figurehead, President Donald Trump. His supposed business success has been exposed as a sham, a sham on which he built a presidential campaign that had no other justification. His supposed religiosity is an obvious hoax. And his policies, supposedly designed to help the "forgotten man," have only helped the rich get richer. He has no problem letting countless supporters "fall victim to his trade wars," as Boot puts it, for the sake of nationalist crusade.
"It’s as though Bernie Madoff’s clients were congratulating him for being so successful at swindling them," wrote Boot. "America’s conservatives are Trump’s willing marks in no small part because, long before he came along, they had already gotten used to being fleeced by self-serving rabble-rousers — the real-life versions of Elmer Gantry, Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip and Larry "Lonesome” Rhodes."
Boot is far from the first person to point this out. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) once famously and astutely called Trump "dangerous" and a "con man." Once Trump won, though, Rubio realized it was in his best interest to get in on the con. The only problem is, though, that whenever you think you're on the con man's side, it most likely you're the mark.
Trump couldn't survive as the con artist that he is without the unshaken devotion of Fox News, which feeds his supporters a steady diet of propaganda necessary to keep presidential approval above a 36 percent floor.
And Fox is, of course, the quintessential con.
Boot pointed out that, even as it pretends to be the mouthpiece for a movement based on "conservative values," it has had rampant sexual harassment problems. And while host Sean Hannity decries the elite, he rakes in a reported $36 million annually.
And then there's Tucker Carlson. The lead-in host to Hannity has really leaned into the notion of being a man of the people — ignoring the fact that he once declared himself an "out-of-the-closet elitist." He accuses liberals of always playing the victim, but no one embraces the role with as much commitment as he can muster. And despite supposedly bemoaning the plight of the white working class — who he pretends are the victims of immigration — he does everything he can to support the GOP, which opposes any progressive policy that could actually make the working class better off.
How did this all happen? It's a complicated story, but the simple version is this: American conservative leaders knew their policy preferences would never be popular on the merits, so they figured out that they needed to trick voters into supporting them. And they've been wildly successful.