Steve Bannon: I see the hat, but are there any cattle?

I’m putting this in the Elections forum because I’m mostly interested in the influence he actually will have on the 2018 midterm elections. I see him strutting around talking up a big game about how he’s starting a revolution and how he’s “at war” with the Republican Establishment. But how much influence does this guy actually have? I honestly don’t know, and was hoping those of you more informed about him might offer some insight.

Personally, I just see him as a big talker and not much else. Does he have access to significant donor money? Does he hold sway over a significant segment of Republican primary voters? And if he does, is he going to do what the Tea Partiers did to the Senate? It’s one thing to run wing nuts for the House-- districts are small and many are gerrymandered, so these guys can get elected. But the Senate is whole 'nuther ball game. Remember Christine “I am not a witch” O’Donnell? She won the primary, but that was it.

I don’t know. I’ve stopped trying to make predictions except in the vaguest sense (like the Democrats should have a decent chance to win the House in 2018). I’m comforted only by the knowledge that nothing lasts forever, and whatever weirdness is going on now will eventually be supplanted by something else (hopefully sanity and decency in politics).


He’s a wholly bought and paid for subsidiary of Robert and Rebekah Mercer, along with Breitbart “News.” As are Kellyanne Conway and Neil Gorsuch. So you tell me: How much influence does that kind of money buy?

I do agree that Bannon’s chosen nominees to date are of the Christine O’Donnell variety, guys like Ex Congressman and felon Michael Grimm and wingnut Roy Moore. Mitch McConnell recognizes the potential danger to the Republican party in nominating these people. But who knows? It should bode well for Dems, but the American appetite for putting such horrible nominees into office may be greater today than it was in 2010 and 2012.

As an aside, the Mercers would also like this guy appointed as Trump’s Chief Science Advisor. A long-time climate change denier, author of the infamously stupid Oregon Petition, and collector of urine from around the world. Fortunately, they haven’t managed to buy that appointment. Yet.


IMHO, much of Bannon’s success with Trump was that they were able to unite many of the Republican factions (ie: mainstream Repubs, Tea Partiers, Moral Majority), with many other factions (ie: White nationalists, Libertarians) under one roof against a common enemy = HR Clinton. If he declares war on the Republicans, and without that common enemy, I don’t see him having much clout. But after 2016, I would say anything goes!


Bannon wants to destroy the Republican Party, but wants to keep its name, its donor lists, and the dignity of a long-standing political party. The Republican Party leadership is your father’s Oldsmobile and they stayed there year after year making promises to the Troglodyte Right that they could never cash. Even as dull as they are, the knuckle-walkers caught on that the leadership needs them more than they need the leaders.

Bannon seems to believe he can ascend to power by splitting the Republican Party and making the Business Republicans sit on their hands while Bannon pursues an agenda that is not centered around keeping them cozy and well-fed. And Bannon has them nervous, if not scared.

So they are probably going to conclude, for the most part, that even these unsavory types can be controlled. Enough to approve of tax policies they don’t understand. Enough to maintain a “business friendly” America. And if they are expected to rise for a brief prayer before NFL games and monster truck rallies, small price to pay for…stability.

Could he? Sure. But the Republican Party will be half-Frankenstein and half Doctor Strangelove, with one arm trying to pull out the neck bolt, and the other arm pounding it back in. He’s got the money to buy attention, and figures that is all he will need. On Planet Facebook, he may be right.

If the Democratic party were united, Bannon would be the end of the Republican party. Unfortunately, there’s this guy named Bernie Sanders at the other end of the spectrum, in the other party, who has a cult of ideologues and is convincing some on the left that they can’t just be centrist democrats but “true” democrats. I will tell you now and I want you all to listen and listen good: If last November wasn’t enough of a warning for the progressives on the dangers of sitting out elections or voting against a moderate Democrat on purely ideological grounds, then I don’t know what is. But if you think you hated the first 2 years of Trump, wait for the next 2, or the next 6. You might not even get to vote in the elections that follow.

I think treating Bannon as the power behind the throne is faulty. What happened in 2016 was a huge mess, not something he controlled. Bannon has pulknwith the alt-right, and he rallied them. So the question is how much power the alt-right has.

Fortunately, Trump is actually weakening them, since he is largely seen as their baby. Their constant association with him is hurting them among the moderates, who are the ones who decide elections. More and more “spite voting” is being seen as bad.

So I think that, like the Tea Party, his power will be weakening. But I don’t know if it wiolmweaken enough by 2018.

I do know that we need to actually make a big deal about voting this time. I should see as much about this as I did in 2016. The anti-Trump people have the momentum, so channel it into voting to remove what power he has.

As for the rich people, they mostly don’t want changes, so their existing plans can continue to work. So having a hung Congress is ideal.

I understand the point you are making and agree with what you say, but I believe some things will be different in 2018 and 2020 that may erode Bannon’s influence.

Some points that bear consideration in my opinion:

  1. Party leaders such as Obama, Biden, Sanders and others haven’t really begun their push to unite the party. I understand that is changing soon. We haven’t yet seen how their efforts to unite the party will work out yet.

  2. No Clinton will be running for office in 2018 or 2020. It may be much harder to demonize whoever rises to lead in 2020.

  3. Trump fatigue has set in. Even hard core supporters are getting a little sick of the chaos and the tweeting. Let Trump keep shitting on service members who have died in the line of duty, keep lying, keep smearing people within his own party, keep golfing, keep letting cabinet members swan around in expensive military and charter transportation, and even Teh Base™ will/has become exhausted by him.

  4. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It isn’t the hard core base that elected Trump. It was the moderate Republicans, independents and disgruntled Dems who went over to Trump because he wasn’t Hillary – encouraged to some extent by Russians. I suspect a significant number of those people will not want to continue with Republicans once they’ve experienced a couple years of this administration.

  5. The unknown impact of the Mueller investigation when its results are finally available. The entire electorate could be in an completely different frame of mind after we learn the extent of it.

  6. The apathy of Dems in 2016 is over. Dems are involved at every level of government today, galvanized to action and working hard to get out the vote across the country. Let’s see how it unfolds over the next year, starting in November.

  7. Russian interference in the elections going forward is now a known potential, and those who can do something about it will – with or without Trump’s help/acknowledgement. Intelligence agencies, Democrats and even some Republicans are very worried about this issue and are working to ameliorate their effects in elections going forward. Hopefully the ideologues you mention are smart young people who will remember in upcoming elections not to believe everything they read on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

So in summary, many things are different and could be game changers. Or not. We’ll see.

I was interested to learn today that when Mike Pence attended a rally intended to bolster support for Virginia Republican nominee Ed Gillespie for the governor’s race there, the rally was attended by only 400 persons. 1,200 were expected. Apparently Pence was not a very big draw at all. Obama joins Northam on Thursday at the Dems’ rally. I wonder if that one will be better attended. Vice Presidents Enter Fray in Final Weeks of Virginia’s Governor Race

Northam is up by 7 points in the most recent poll.

I don’t claim to be any sort of an expert on Bannon, but there are a bunch of conservatives that feel they’re “at war” with the GOPe. Bannon reminds me of someone trying to figure out which way the mob is headed to get to the front and pretend to be its leader. If Republican primary voters throw a bunch of establishment guys out on their asses next year, personally I’ll be crediting the Tea Party much more than Bannon.

There’s a Tea Party? You sure?

In spite of the number of well thought out points made in the comments so far it occurs to me after the last election that they ain’t buyin’ cattle anymore, they’re buyin’ hats. :smack:

It seems to me that there’s an odd sort of feedback loop in Republican circles these days. George W. Bush, despite his pedigree, was marketed as an aww-shucks, businessman, plain-speakin’, tax-cuttin’, brush-clearin’ friend of the common man. He started two wars and crashed the economy. Even Republicans seemed to grudgingly admit that his term in office wasn’t exactly a golden age for America, even if they couldn’t say why. And Bush pretty much became persona non grata among the GOP. Did they learn from their man’s failures? Now, despite his pedigree, they’ve rallied around someone they see as an aww-shucks, businessman, plain-speakin’, tax-cuttin’, pussy-grabbin’ friend of the common man.

So, yes, there may be fatigue and dissatisfaction setting in with Trump. Under his leadership, nothing is getting done, the situation in the world is deteriorating, American prospects are declining, and the government is not addressing the concerns of the people. I can see people getting angry about that. My worry is that the rank-and-file GOP will respond to their anger by looking for someone who is more of an outsider, more uninformed, more impulsive, more caustic, more blustery. more of all the things that are wrong with Trump.

The voters have had no shortage of opportunities to see how flawed the right wing is, and yet they keep voting for the right wing. There’s an occasional correction, but the Anglo American voting block is naturally inclined to vote Republican because the Republican party has managed to brand itself in a way that represents America culturally, in much the same way that the moderate Democratic party did.

What’s troubling is that in some ways, the very things that make Trump vulnerable give him some strength at the same time. Ever since Karl Rove, we’ve heard a lot about governing to the political base. When Bush was president, the base was not established among cultural lines, just ideological lines. They certainly weren’t colorblind, but the country wasn’t culturally as divided as it is now. In 2017, though, the country is increasingly polarized, not just by whether you favor higher or lower taxes or whether you favor a more interventionist or isolationist foreign policy; it’s polarized increasingly according to race and social class. This has always been true socially, but now it’s becoming a matter of politics and policy.

All of this is to say that while Trump, Bannon, and the right wing might appear to have a ever-growing list of people who are disgusted with them, these opponents are not necessarily united in their opposition. The left can debate how they should approach the upcoming elections, and they can argue that people like Nancy Pelosi should step aside and hand over the throne to someone else - I happen to agree with more aggressive progressives that she should. But it should not debate whether the Democratic party itself represents the left. There shouldn’t be a movement for an alternative to the Democratic party. Left wing ideologues should not be encouraging primary opponents for strong incumbents like Diane Feinstein, and yet that’s what I’m seeing. And it could result in activist candidates who are less likely to defeat Republicans in general elections.

At the risk of going to the well of Nazi references one too many times, I am reminded of how Hitler ultimately came to power in Germany, and how other authoritarians succeeded through democratic means. They do so by using polemic to divide people, turning pluralities into majorities, majorities into super majorities, and super majorities into indefinite autocracy.

Again, I wouldn’t be worrying about an authoritarian assuming power in the United States if I didn’t see some of the other signs, like:

  • toxic macho culture
  • the deliberate attempt by leaders to distort truth
  • the rise of political powers who believe in a fact-free world
  • violent and vitriolic discourse in right wing media
  • the open embrace of authoritarianism by people in power
  • political polls showing historic levels of distrust in governmental institutions
  • the politics of the dangerous “other”
  • the apparent decline in social status of the white majority
  • the disorientation caused by rapid technological and social change
  • a major financial crisis within the last decade
  • the financial distress the recession has caused for millions of people
  • ongoing military conflicts with many, many veterans returning with PTSD
  • the dangerous assumption that political extremists can be controlled when they go too far

All of these are the ingredients that give rise to an authoritarian regime. It’s all right there in front of us, right now.

I agree. I saw a great quote online that went something like this: “Have you ever wondered what you would have done during the rise of Nazi Germany? You’re doing it right now.”

I think the greatest danger we face is the rise of alternative news sources. It seems a lot of right wingers get the bulk of their news either from Hate Radio or from right wing Facebook memes. Neither has any interest in truth, accuracy, or fairness. Just one telling example: there is a Facebook meme asking for prayers for the Christian missionaries to be executed by Muslims in Afghanistan tomorrow. This has been going around for about a decade. Several people respond with links to the Snopes article debunking it. After each of these, others continue to respond with “Prayers sent”. Nobody bothers to do any fact checking. Even when pointed out to them, they continue merrily assuming it’s true, because it fits their preconceived notion of Muslim savagery. Just one example. There are thousands more. People fucking believe everything that fits their own prejudices. And they vote that way. I’m sure the latest exposure of Dumb Donald’s callous disregard of fallen soldiers in Niger will be spun so that Hillary and Obama danced on their graves, and the moronic right wing base will lap it up with gusto. When truth no longer matters, freedom is lost.

Bannon is a loud mouthed schnook that crawls out of an empty whisky bottle every morning, spouts ill articulated rhetoric, then drains another bottle before crawling back in it.

Bannon has latched on to the disgruntled lot of Americans love what Trump is doing. The establishment of both major parties bears some responsibility for what’s happening here. In the internet age these people are no longer divided by locality, Bannon and his ilk have given them an identity and national platform. The Republican party has been feeding these scorpions for years and now they’re getting bitten by the creatures they tried to unleash on the Democrats.

These malcontents are a powerful group, they’re now coordinated and cooperating, and even though they represent something like a third of the country that’s all the establishment Repubs and Dems have left on their side, and those groups don’t have the same drive and cohesion.

This us folks, those people have always been here, we counted on a system that kept them on the sidelines in the past. This is labelled as Nationalism sometimes, but it’s not, it’s a minority that hates both the good and bad in this country, and their power comes from the apathy and division from the long choreographed mainstream of politics.

Someone on TV espoused something significant over the weekend, the structuring of the political debate into ‘tribalism’. Factions can cooperate and compromise on esoteric issues, but when it comes down to an ‘us vs. them’ mentality there’s no room left for the democratic process to work.

To me, this just looks like a list of things you (and liberals) like to complain about. I’m apparently missing the parallels to Hitler. Could you explain them more thoroughly?

Tea Party candidates may have blown a few elections for Republicans, but in very red states they did not. When Bob Bennett got primaried out of his Senate seat in Utah, that didn’t open the door for a Democrat. There is very little danger of a Republican winning Feinstein’s seat. For several different reasons.