Lyndon LaRouche Was the Godfather of Political Paranoia. His Cult Is Still Alive and Unwell.

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It didn’t get a lot of attention, but back in November, a candidate representing one of the country’s most successful homegrown fascist movements got a little over 25,000 votes in her bid for Chuck Schumer’s Senate seat. This was Diane Sare, who, in a campaign video taken outside Federal Hall on Wall Street, named as her main qualification her “32-year association with the greatest economist and statesman the United States has yet produced, the late Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr.” The way she delivered the line, positioned as she was beneath the bronze crotch of George Washington, speaking with the dead-eyed adamancy of someone well practiced in the arts of political irritation, it was a little as if she were daring you to laugh.

And how could you not, just a little? A LaRouchie on the ballot! In the third decade of the twenty-first century! Yesterday’s cranks, still doing their thing in the age of Q, their thing being, in part, to shriek in the middle of town halls, hector people from their little stands in public parks, put Hitler mustaches on photos of President Barack Obama, declaim against the queen of England for having been the most prolific drug dealer this side and probably that side of Pablo Escobar, and continue carrying the torch for the once-ubiquitous paranoid gadfly candidate to end all gadfly candidates. LaRouchies still walk among us, embarrassing undead artifacts of another era’s grotesque folly, like Henry Kissinger or the Bay City Rollers. God love ’em, you almost want to say.

Sare brought home half a percent of the vote; she was routed by blank ballots. But winning elections was never really the point for the LaRouchies, even in their heyday, and elsewhere this fall, there were signs that LaRouchism was having a small moment.

Here was Sare, swinging at softballs from the post-left YouTube screamer Jimmy Dore. There were her staffers and compatriots, heckling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and lambasting Ilhan Omar, among others, over their votes to send military aid to Ukraine. Allowing themselves to be styled in the press as disillusioned anti-war leftists, they rope-a-doped AOC and Omar into denouncing them as Russian stooges. For a moment, the Squad members were left looking like evasive, hippie-punching warmongers by a group that made its bones in the 1970s attacking leftists with nunchucks (not kidding—literal nunchucks).

Four years ago, the Grand Poo-Bah went to that great airport table in the sky. LaRouche was invariably described in obits as a cultist and an eccentric—indeed, he was a wackadoo perennial presidential candidate who kept saying weird stuff about the Rockefellers. But from the vantage of the present, LaRouche doesn’t seem so out of step with the country’s politics. And the diminishment of his group over the past couple of decades—in the 1980s, LaRouchies raised hundreds of millions of dollars and even won a couple of primaries, all while maintaining a massive private intelligence operation and insinuating themselves in the Reagan administration by promoting the Gipper’s Star Wars program—doesn’t look like marginalization anymore so much as reabsorption.

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