Seriously, Literally, Etc.: Why TPM Saw Trump As A Serious Contender Back In 2015

TPM Illustration/Getty Images
TPM Illustration/Getty Images

TPM has a long tradition of covering the far right. From the Tea Party and its rise to prominence during Obama’s first term to fringier movements such as the Malheur wildlife refuge occupation and Jade Helm — we’ve chronicled 20 years of radicalism.

The thinking was this: Even the fringiest of ideas holds more sway over American politics — and, specifically, the right — than is commonly acknowledged. From conspiracy theories including Birtherism and Agenda 21 to laughably misleading branding exercises such as “death panels,” conservative fever dreams are the stock-in-trade of the American right and its political representation in the form of the Republican Party.

Today, as the QAnon meta-conspiracy theory proves to be a not insignificant factor in the Georgia Senate runoffs and advocates of the theory arrive in the halls of Congress, TPM’s approach to the fringes perhaps seems obvious. As the former national security advisor and his lawyer meet with the President to advocate for martial law, and as the majority of Republicans in the House sign on to a laughable bid by Texas to convince the Supreme Court to throw out the votes of four states that swung to the Democrats, it is quite clear that the fever swamp has fully occupied the Republican Party.

This was less obvious in 2015. So while some of our colleagues in the news media laughed Trump off during the early months of the primary, asserting that the party would, ultimately, decide, we were paying close attention to the faux real-estate mogul and Birther-in-chief’s bid at a hostile takeover. We didn’t think he would win the presidency — November 2016 brought that jarring surprise — but we were certain relatively early on that he had a good shot at becoming the GOP candidate.

Josh Marshall tells the story in the video above.

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