Cesar Sayoc Jr. is what will happen more and more as long as conservative propaganda networks remain what they are:
On Twitter, Cesar Sayoc Jr. lashed out at immigrants, gun control advocates, and prominent Democratic politicians. On Facebook, he misspelled a racial epithet, directing it at the likes of Oprah Winfrey and former President Barack Obama.
With fury in his fingers, he shared inflammatory news stories from Breitbart, hard-edge videos from Fox News, and angry posts from pages like “Handcuffs for Hillary.” He tweeted a threat to former Vice President Joe Biden. And he posted photographs of himself wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat at one of President Trump’s campaign rallies.
After a frenzied nationwide search for the person who sent 13 makeshift bombs to some of Mr. Trump’s most prominent critics, Mr. Sayoc, 56, was arrested Friday morning in Plantation, Fla., at an AutoZone car parts shop. Authorities released a photograph of a man with a buzz cut and a mouth that drooped toward a frown. They hauled away a white van plastered with bombastic stickers expressing support for Mr. Trump and animosity toward those who clashed with him.
“Dishonest Media,” read one on the van’s back right window. “CNN Sucks.” Cross hairs appeared on a photograph of one of the liberal commentators at the network, which received more than one package from Mr. Sayoc at its offices in New York.
Political violence — when it is attached to political ideology at all, as opposed to simple mental illness — is associated with Manichean, paranoid, illiberal thought. That is a description of a large and steadily growing wing of conservative politics. Elements of paranoid extremism resided in the very beginnings of the Goldwater movement, which took its inspiration from delusional yet wildly paranoid tracts such as “A Choice, Not an Echo” and “None Dare Call It Treason.” Sensible conservatives roll their eyes at this sort of nuttery, but by this point in history, such modes of delusional thought have gained such deep inroads in the party that purging them is a hopeless task.
Even figures as deranged as Limbaugh have long since found themselves outflanked by even more deranged minds like Alex Jones, who has received respectful attention from President Trump, himself an avid conspiracy theorist. Trump has praised a member of Congress for assaulting a reporter; pardoned ranchers who inspired a right-wing militia attack, the right-wing conspiracist Dinesh D’Souza, and lawless authoritarian racist Joe Arpaio; literally today, at an event in which he was attempting to project some measure of dignity and decorum, Trump invoked a far-right conspiracy theory by attacking George Soros as a “globalist” and chuckling appreciatively at an audience member shouting “Lock him up!”