Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Steve Bannon: Trump's dark lord of division

Ryan Lizza reports on Steve Bannon's history and what he plans for the Trump coalition. Below are snippets to give you a sense of what is in Lizza's report.

[As Breitbart boss] Bannon embraced the growing populist movement in America, including the “alt-right,” a new term for white nationalists, who care little about traditional conservative economic ideas and instead stress the need to preserve America’s European heritage and keep out non-whites and non-Christians. Under Bannon, Breitbart promoted similar movements in Europe, including the United Kingdom Independence Party, the National Front in France, Alternative for Germany, and the Freedom Party in the Netherlands. Bannon likes to say that his goal is “to build a global, center-right, populist, anti-establishment news site.” After the election is over, Breitbart, which has offices in London and Rome, plans to open up new bureaus in France and Germany.

... it took someone a little smarter—and more cynical—than Trump, [Roger] Stone, or [Alex] Jones to distill Trump’s platform of protectionism, closed borders, and white identity politics into one message about a global conspiracy. The man behind this new message is Steve Bannon, who became the C.E.O. of the Trump campaign in August. Bannon is on leave from Breitbart, the right-wing news site where he served as executive chairman, and where he honed a view of international politics that Trump now parrots.

Bannon has a few unusual views that are important to understanding Trump’s speeches this week. He believes that the white working class is still the key to the election, because the Clintons have never been able to win without this demographic. While Bill Clinton won two Presidential elections with the support of white working-class voters, this view is wildly at odds with recent changes in the electorate, which have made the Democrats more reliant on minority voters and college-educated whites. Other advisers, including Conway, tried to steer Trump toward appealing to these groups, but Trump has clearly turned away from them and toward Bannon.

Bannon’s view of the media is similarly narrow. He sees the dominant conservative media players as the establishment, not as allies. He views Fox News as highly unreliable on the nationalist cause, and was not unhappy when Roger Ailes, Fox News’s former C.E.O., was forced to resign over multiple sexual-harassment allegations. He despises Rupert Murdoch—the chairman and C.E.O. of the News Corporation, and now the acting C.E.O. of Fox News, one of its subsidiaries—as a pro-open-borders globalist. When Bannon ran Breitbart, he didn’t want his reporters appearing on Fox, because he believed the cable news channel had made smaller conservative news outlets subservient to it. After the first Republican primary debate, in August, 2015, when Trump became engaged in a highly personal fight with Megyn Kelly, Fox’s biggest star, Breitbart also gleefully attacked Kelly.

The rhetoric that Bannon is feeding Trump makes it increasingly likely that Trump will lose in a landslide. Polling averages show Trump trailing Clinton by eight points, the largest gap since August, when Clinton received a significant boost after her Convention. Most election forecasts put Clinton’s chance of victory at about eighty per cent. [_Scriber: newest forecasts have chances at 90+._]

Trump’s response to these numbers has been to tell his supporters, repeatedly in recent days, that the election is “rigged,” creating a sense of grievance about the likely results that can be exploited after November 8th. Trump and Bannon have given up on trying to defeat Clinton. They seem more interested in creating a platform for a new ethno-nationalist politics that may bedevil the Republican Party—and the country—for a long time to come.

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