There was Lyndon LaRouche long before Alex Jones and Infowars.
LaRouche, the leader of a cult-like political party, ran for president eight times from 1976 to 2004, with campaigns full of theories of conspiracy, anti-Semitism, and economic doom forecasts. He believed that Queen Elizabeth II of Britain was a foreign drug trafficker that Nazi Germany was working with the Bush family, and that whites invented jazz to enslave blacks.
His group's core memory was never more than 3,000, but LaRouchites had an immense influence on the political landscape. At airports and train stations throughout the U.S., they circulated their leader's tracts, and thousands of his devotees ran for local and national offices, frequently heckling and harassing their opponents. Not that LaRouche saw something wrong with the actions of his or his supporters. He said, "I'm as American as apple pie." Born to Quaker parents in Rochester, N.Y., LaRouche did not have a comfortable childhood, The New York Times said. Bullied at school, he was forbidden to fight back by the pacifist values of his family.
LaRouche moved to New York City after working as an Army medic during World War II and became involved in Trotskyite parties. "The Washington Post said that his rambling essays, which would abruptly switch from discussions of Plato and Aristotle to bel canto singing, led many on the Left to dismiss him "as a crank".
He instructed his disciples to learn karate so they could fight communism and demanded that their bank accounts and sex lives be monitored by his supporters. The Seattle Post Intelligencer said LaRouche sometimes fooled people into voting for his candidates. "For LaRouchies running in Democratic primaries, the official-sounding National Democratic Policy Committee, which had no link to the Democratic Party, was used as a front".
In the 1984 election, LaRouche himself won more than 76,000 votes, a personal best, but four years later "was convicted of income tax evasion, mail fraud, and drawing money from elderly followers' credit card accounts." He lived in a federal jail for five years and ran his 1992 presidential campaign out of his cell, which he was sure was bugged. "To say that Lyndon was somewhat paranoid," said his cellmate, Jim Bakker, a disgraced tele-evangelist, "would be like saying that the Titanic had a leak."