Steve Bannon: It's a Conspiracy!
I don’t believe in conspiracy, except where Hollywood and HW and the Democratic Party are concerned. And anyway, it wasn’t a real conspiracy: everybody knew, except us rubes.
But I am interested in something that comes closer to a conspiracy, the notion that former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon was kinda, sorta shoved out the door at the White House in August.
I don’t believe it. I think that the “shoved out the door” meme was a cover story. After all, why signal the Democrats that something is up with: “Trump Sends Bannon Out to Elect Populists to Senate in 2018.” What would Sun Tzu say about that?
It’s much better to promote Bannon as an unguided missile that is a bit too hot to handle at the White House. That way, if he fails to elect a bunch of populist economic nationalists to the Senate in 2018 you can say that he was really too much of a wild man to help the president. But if he succeeds in nuking the GOP establishment types, then you can open your eyes in wonder and say: wow, I had no idea! It just shows that there are millions of patriotic Americans out there that want to help the president Make America Great Again.
So now we see a range of stories appearing in the media. There is the standard Breitbart fare that Bannon will rout the establishment Republicans. Here is Bannon wowing California Republicans with this message.
Then there is the AP darkly predicting another crop of whackjobs like in 2010 and 2012. Or the Los Angeles Times with the usual “some Republicans are nervous” approach.
Then there are confident Democratic predictions that Bannon is a gift to the Democrats that will deliver the Senate in 2018.
But think of the strategic situation of President Trump. The Democrats seem to be united in opposition to everything he does. But the Republicans are a looser coalition, and clearly many Republican officeholders in Washington don’t think they owe Trump anything. Last week President Bush and Sen. McCain (R-AZ) gave speeches just to remind us that they just don’t get it. So if you were Trump what would you do?
It’s obvious. You would send out your best man to put the fear of electoral defeat into the minds of your Republican opponents and fence-sitters. If his guy successfully primaries a couple of Mitch’s men and he picks up a few of the 21 Democratic seats that are up in 2018 the president changes the correlation of forces in Washington DC in 2019.
And while you are at it, you figure that it doesn’t hurt to burnish your best man’s reputation as a crazy wild man by hinting to the NeverTrumpers that Bannon reads the notorious fascist theorist Julius Evola.
Yeah. That’s the thing about Steve Bannon. He hasn’t just done a lot in his life, from the Navy to finance to Hollywood. He also reads a lot.
Now I am a guy that has not really done a lot; but I do read a lot. And my judgement is that you cannot change the world unless you have read enough to develop a worldview that is different from the usual conventional wisdom on offer. You cannot jump the tracks of the conventional wisdom unless you can outfit your vehicle with a nice set of tracks for cross-country travel. It’s the Andrew Breitbart doctrine: politics is downstream from culture.
The point of the right rebellion, from Trump to Brexit to the weekend’s elections in Austria and the Czech Republic, is that conventional right-wing culture and politics has failed, that gentlemanly conservatism and libertarianism doesn’t move the needle; it only perpetuates the “ratchet” whereby every left government moves the needle leftwards, but right governments don’t move the needle back as far.
The assumption that Breitbart made and Bannon makes is that you have to win the cultural battle before you can win the political battle.
Now, I assume that Steve Bannon’s mind is fizzing with ideas he has read. Great, so he has ideas. But Steve Bannon is also a fearless Man of Action, if not a Man of Steel.
And one thing Bannon knows is that we cannot continue to kow-tow and apologize when the liberals use their cultural hegemony to brand you as a racist or a “white supremacist” or the swamp brands you as an extremist. Politics is civil war by other means and the weapons of today’s politics were forged years ago by some guy writing a book.
And that is why I think that the GOP establishment, the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party operatives with bylines in the media should be very afraid.
Because if there is any man in America who can hand them their hats it is Sreve Bannon.
Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.