Years later, I witnessed a similar dynamic at the surprisingly diverse Daily Caller. A good chunk of the people there—they were the high school equivalent of jocks and cheerleaders—were center-right journalists who went on to work at mainstream media outlets. Another contingent—definitely not labeled as cool kids—gravitated to Breitbart (or worse). In some ways, the Caller was a Petri dish—a microcosm of the split that would later become apparent inside the GOP.

Trump’s victory was something akin to the revenge of the nerds.

Now, I don’t want to conflate conservatism with the alt-right, or minimize the extreme alt-right and their racism by comparing some of them to harmless computer nerds. But as someone who has witnessed the transformation, what I am trying to do is explain how a once- ostracized minority gained control of a movement—and (arguably, more concerning) how otherwise “normal” conservatives are now trying to ape them, in order to seize the zeitgeist.