CAPLAN: Will Bannonism—Not Trumpism—Shape The Republican Party’s Future?
Steve Bannon is on the warpath, continuing his mission to drain the swamp. This is hardly a new revelation. Long before President Trump was a glint in the Tea Party’s eye, the Breitbart News chairman was hard at work laying the foundation to what would be a dominating force in Republican politics at the intersection of Conservatism, Libertarianism and Populism – promoting the likes of Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul to national prominence.
The former Chief White House Strategist is fresh off stumping for firebrand jurist Roy Moore, who claimed a decisive victory against Sen. Luther Strange – a swamp varmint appointed under dubious circumstances to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ vacated Alabama Senate seat.
Bannon’s influence in the Alabama blowout has many wondering what’s next for the populist rabble-rouser. CNN’s Dana Bash reports the political tactician is setting his sights on the 2018 midterms, crisscrossing the country in search of populist candidates to remake the Republican Party, and blackballing swamp creatures who refuse to be drained.
“The populist movement is going to do a house cleaning of all those individuals that made a living off the conservative grassroots while stabbing them in the back,” a source familiar with Bannon’s thinking tells CNN.
Bannon is beginning that effort by trying to blackball GOP campaign strategist Jeff Roe, who worked for Sen. Luther Strange, who lost Tuesday’s primary to Roy Moore. Bannon is spreading the word that he believes Roe is responsible for dirty tactics against Moore, and alleging that Roe worked with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner to mislead Trump about the state of the race in Alabama in and around Trump’s endorsement of Strange.[…]
Following his speech at Moore’s victory rally Tuesday night where Bannon credited “the people” with the victory, he vowed to help the populist wing of the GOP win other Senate battles in 2018.
To that end, he flew from Alabama to Colorado to begin recruiting western candidates to run against Republican incumbents…. Bannon also plans to head back down south to have meetings with those who may want to run in Tennessee for the seat Sen. Bob Corker announced he will vacate, and in Mississippi, to challenge sitting Republican Sen. Roger Wicker.
Bannon’s rage against crony capitalism has already electrified the base, striking fear in the hearts of the ivory tower establishment who have enriched themselves on the backs of average Americans. As a former Goldman Sachs banker who grew disillusioned with their strong-arm tactics, Bannon witnessed the decimation of the working middle class, as Wall St. firms facilitated the largest betrayal of Americans in history while creating a looming debt bubble which could still lead to systemic collapse.
Bannon’s unique purview of high-level greed is potent, and his disgust towards establishment is fueled in large part by the incestuous revolving door between DC and Wall Street. Bannon witnessed first hand how Goldman Sachs, once a monastery to the ambitious investment banker, became The Black House.
As President Trump and Steve Bannon, two of the Right’s most influential figures today continue to remake the Republican Party, an important question arises; In whose image will the future of the Conservative movement be cast?
At first glance, Trumpism and Bannonism bear many similarities. Rooted in right-wing populism and traditionalism alike, both ideologies seek to shift the center of power from Corporate America back to the American worker. Both men believe the elite have benefited disproportionately from globalization, while hallowing out a once prosperous middle class in the process. And both Trump and Bannon have furiously railed against a swamp that has profited handsomely from endless spillage of blood and treasure abroad, while cities at home suffer from racial and economic tensions stoked by the Obama administration.
In short, both Trump and Bannon see that the world is suffering from systemic division orchestrated at the highest levels, and Western cultures are actively being destroyed under the false pretense of humanitarianism and open-border politics. Finally, in order to preserve America’s borders, language and culture, both men believe an impenetrable wall must be built to prevent illegal aliens from breaching the nation’s geography. That’s where the similarities between Trumpism and Bannonism end.
A key difference, if not the difference between Trump and his former chief strategist, is the President’s penchant for compromise and dealmaking, while Bannon is far less malleable in his beliefs. Where Trumpism fails the ideological purity test – which risks alienating his base, Bannonism is brimming with the very civic nationalism that led to Trump’s win. Herein lies the rub for Trump voters – the commander-in-chief has demonstrated a very ‘swamp-like’ flexibility on matters ranging from healthcare to immigration, leaving Trump’s most oft-repeated campaign promises on the cutting room floor. In September, for example, President Trump shocked Washington by announcing a tentative framework to work with Democratic leadership on DACA and the looming budget crisis.
Washington Times reports:
President Trump and Democratic leaders on Wednesday did what Washington does best: striking a bipartisan deal to boost borrowing and spending, keeping the government running into the next fiscal year and speeding disaster relief to Texas and Florida.
Mr. Trump accepted the deal offered by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer at a White House meeting, seeing it as a chance to get ahead of a series of pressing fiscal problems that needed to be fixed this month.
But the agreement blindsided Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who just hours earlier called Democrats’ proposal “ridiculous and disgraceful.”
For some reason, however, Trump’s most vocal opponents on the right didn’t seem to be caught off guard by his “deal,” with a smirking Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, as ‘Never-Trumpers’ have long warned that the President was nothing more than a chameleon who couldn’t be trusted to prosecute the Republican agenda. According to Schumer, President Trump even suggested against building the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico – a move which would be seen by Trump’s loyal base as the ultimate betrayal.
Breitbart News reports:
This week on the “Pod Save America” podcast, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) detailed the debt ceiling and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy negotiations he had with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and President Donald Trump earlier in the month.
Schumer said, “On DREAMers, he said, you know, that he understood that they didn’t come in through any fault of their own, that they’re good Americans, good kids. And then he said he wants the wall in return. And we said ‘No. No wall, Mr. President.’ And he tried that for about 15 minutes, but he’s not going to push me around verbally or any other way.”
He added, “And he finally said, “OK, we won’t do the wall. We’ll do some other kind of border security.”
Was such an offer ever made by Trump? One may never know, and thus exists the problem. Under Bannon’s more hard-line economic nationalism, claims of Trump wavering would have been branded as nothing more than propaganda from the left. Instead, an increasingly malleable Trump is disappointing even his most ardent supporters.
Steve Bannon’s refusal to bend the knee to deep-state establishmentarians would betray his mission; elect enough Populist Conservatives to Congress to successfully implement the MAGA agenda in earnest – reshaping the country to such a degree that even if a Democrat manages to win the presidency, Populism and Economic Nationalism continue to dominate the political spectrum – restoring faith in government among the abandoned middle class.
Bannonism, by its very nature, views compromise with the establishment as a last resort. This approach appeals to Trump’s base, who went to the polling booths to actively resist threats to National Security, the economy, and the American way of life. Alas, it’s clear that the desires of American conservatives have fallen on tone-deaf ears. One need look no further than the Alabama Senate race – which saw Trump flagrantly abandon his base by supporting deep-state candidate Luther Strange over Bannon-supported economic nationalist Roy Moore.
And instead of rallying behind the MAGA candidate, traditionally pro-establishment conservative outlets were more concerned with optics than substance. National Review’s Reihan Salam, for example, seemed to be disproportionately concerned that Moore would provide CNN with endless soundbytes and fodder.
“When I look at Roy Moore, I see someone who is clearly apocalyptic, and I don’t see anything else to him, and I think that it’s bad news for the GOP. It’s great, great news for CNN, the Washington Post and every big mainstream news media outlet that will cover every single one of his utterances,” complained Salam in the latest edition of The Editors, a podcast led by National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke and Rich Lowry.
Steve Bannon’s decision to return to Breitbart News will allow him to further his mandate through the lens of a widely-read platform which exploded in popularity during the election. When the MSM lies about Trump, Breitbart will be there to lay out the facts. When RINOs and deep-state GOP thugs seek to undermine the President’s agenda, Steve Bannon’s staff will hold their feet to the fire and make sure their base knows of betrayals and backroom deals made in dark, wood paneled rooms filled with smoke.