Look At The Names on That Letter

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I want to note something about this open letter from conservative activists asking Mitch McConnell and his leadership team to resign. Clearly, this is getting on a bandwagon of sorts with Trump’s growing war with not just Bob Corker but the Senate GOP generally. It’s similarly jumping on board Steve Bannon’s promised effort recruit primary opponents for a raft of GOP incumbents. One of the two things Bannon’s recruits would have to pledge is to vote against McConnell as Majority Leader. It’s that and get rid of the filibuster.

But look at the signatories. 

First, it’s just five people. That’s not very many. More important is who the people are. Two of them have histories literally going back to the earliest days of the modern conservative movement.

First there’s Richard Viguerie, basically the inventor of right wing direct mail fundraising. In many ways Viguerie invented clickbait and fake news decades before the Internet. He’s 84.

Then there’s Brent Bozell. Bozell has lived his entire life in the sinecure right wing activism world, which some very unnice people are ungenerous enough to call the world of ‘wingnut welfare’. He founded the Media Research Center in 1987 – full-time yakking about ‘liberal media bias’. His father was L. Brent Bozell, Jr., partner with Bill Buckley is launching much of what we know as movement conservatism today. Among many other things he ghosted Barry Goldwater’s ‘Conscience of a Conservative’, a bible of young conservatives in the early 60s which helped launch his 1964 presidential run.

To the extent that Trump is something ‘new’ in the GOP firmament, these folks are as old as it gets. The other three all predate Trump and in key cases predate the Tea Party. Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots is the ‘newest’ person on the list.

This doesn’t mean they can’t write letters or that they’re not influential. But this is an example of what I think is really the truth. There’s no new anything. Trump is the candidate of the most unreconstructed elements of movement conservatism. In many ways, the folks modern conservatives don’t want to associate with publicly anymore.

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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