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Saturday, October 8, 2016

How the Golden State Became the Intellectual Capital of Trump’s GOP

California’s late 20th-century political history helps explain its outsized role in the pro-Trump intellectual right.
Heresies tend to thrive on the periphery of a regime rather than in the halls of power. Early Christianity came to center itself around the city of Rome, but major challenges to orthodoxy, like the Gnosticism of Roman Egypt and Nestorianism of Assyria, developed along the Empire’s neglected fringes. Provinces farther away from the imperial capital were more likely to suffer from administrative neglect, and relationships with the Church grew more attenuated over time. In the twilight years of Rome—at the height of its decadence—it was the Arian heresy, with roots in Alexandria, that was championed by the Goths and Vandals as they overran the Western Empire.
Since William F. Buckley’s rise to prominence, the intellectual capital of the American right has lain along the Washington-New York axis, home to a sprawling complex of journals and think tanks that define and develop conservative orthodoxy. This orthodoxy has faced its share of heresies over the past generation, but the heretics usually found support in corners of the East Coast intellectual infrastructure. The 1990s’ paleo-conservatives carved out an outlet in The American Conservative; the post-Iraq War libertarians were welcomed in think tanks like Cato and the broader Koch network; Tea Party-friendly writers and scholars gradually became integrated into mainstream outlets such as National Review.Unlike these earlier heresies,

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