The folks who flock to extremist views have always been around, but mostly they have been fragmented between various political parties. Therefore their clout was minimal. But then along came Roger Ailes who saw money to be made pandering to the nut crowd at his Fox News creation, this, just as the Republicans were desperate to find votes to counter the nation’s demographics that were turning against them.
Between them, the GOP and the right-wing media gave the crazies a home and a rallying space. At that point, for a large slice of society money and power trumped the national good. Cash in and win by any means possible became SOP for “conservatives” who were in overdrive dog whistling primitive tribalist Whites, the new poor done in by technology and cheap overseas labor.
Indeed, the name of the game for bucks was to rile up disgruntled While males with demagogic clamp trap of whom Trump is the current super star of this technique.