The obvious (to me) parallel to the alt-right and trump is Obama’s “palling around with terrorists” in the 2008. It was a meaningless statement then, and the alt-right angle is meaningless this year, but meaninglessness hasn’t stopped anyone lately.
One unremarked advantage Trump had was the lack of political “infrastructure”, or the hordes of pollsters and consultants that surround candidates. That let him to push, not necessarily better ideas, but to float a tremendous number of ideas to the public at a rapid clip, keep the popular ones, ditch the unpopular and build a coalition off of what people liked at the time. All without having to vet everything through interest groups and campaign infrastructure.
Short version – he had a much faster OODA loop for his marketing.
In that sense – I think he will be a role model for other politicians – it’s eerily similar to an Adwords campaign now that I think about it.
Granted, that was 12 years ago, but the appeal still seems the same, light on ideology, high on displays of “social” strength. I suppose a better way to put it would be that both were irritable strongmen, or “champions” who are rather light on ideology but heavy on irritability.
He’s been riding off free press coverage, with no spend on his part of anyone else’s. This is what our mass media selects for.