The Longest Con
How Grifters, Swindlers, and Frauds Hijacked American Conservatism
by Joe Conason
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Pub Date 09 Jul 2024 | Archive Date 23 Jul 2024
A sardonic chronicle of how conservatism turned into a racketeering enterprise – and why Donald Trump became the living emblem of the American right’s moral decay.
The Longest Con tells the fascinating story of the partisan con artists who have corrupted conservative politics in our time, creating a toxic phenomenon that culminated in the election of Donald Trump, a bumptious fraud whose checkered career and tawdry retinue, including his presidential cabinet, have featured almost every variety of scam. But long before he appeared, Trump’s path to power was blazed by the motley horde of swindlers and quacks who preceded him.
From the “professional anti-communists” (whose tactics even J. Edgar Hoover despised) to the “populist” grifters of the Tea Party movement and the religious charlatans of the “prosperity gospel” (who provided a pious front for Trump), the right-wing ripoff has remained remarkably consistent, even as personalities change and new technologies emerge: Stir up anger and resentment, demonize political opponents, promise vengeance, and collect donations from the gullible. It’s a highly lucrative game that any unscrupulous charlatan can play, as many have – and they are named in these pages.
In an unsparing and often comic narrative, Joe Conason explores the right’s long, steep descent into a movement whose principal aim is not to protect freedom or defend the Constitution, but merely to line the pockets of pretenders and blowhards whose malevolent tactics now endanger the nation.