Saturday, June 02, 2018
"This is going to be an emotional election"
I don't know if Steve Bannon knows something about the president's plans but I think Trump instinctively understands it anyway. The rally in which he got his screaming racist fan base to scream "animals!" telegraphed it pretty obviously. This excerpt is from Fareed Zakaria's op-ed in the Washington Post, drawn from his interview with Bannon:
The Republican Party’s strategy, for now, appears to be to make the midterm elections a series of local contests focusing on the tax cut and the healthy economy. Bannon views this as fundamentally misguided. “You have to nationalize the election,” he said. Bannon understands that voters are moved from the gut more than through a wonky analysis of taxes. “This is going to be an emotional [election] — you’re either with [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi or you’re with Donald Trump. . . . Trump’s second presidential race will be on Nov. 6 of this year.”
Bannon is most focused on the issue of immigration because it hits both the heart and the head. “Immigration is about not just sovereignty, it’s about jobs.” He believes that the Trump coalition can attract up to a third of Sanders supporters who see trade and immigration as having created unfair competition for jobs, particularly for working-class blacks and Hispanics. He advocates appealing directly to those voters, saying, “You’re not going to be able to take the Hispanic and black community from the STEM system in grammar school to our best engineering schools . . . to the great jobs in Silicon Valley, unless you start to limit these H-1B visas and this unfair competition . . . from East Asia and South Asia.”
Now this strikes me as entirely wrong. The reason that not enough Hispanic and black students end up in Silicon Valley has much more to do with a broken education system, particularly for poorer kids, than the modest number of skilled Asian immigrants who get work visas. The most likely result of limiting these visas is that talented immigrants will simply go elsewhere — Canada, Britain, Australia — and start successful companies there. And, in fact, there is lots of evidence this is already happening.
But Bannon is right that this is a brilliant electoral strategy. The idea of greater immigration controls has an undeniable mainstream appeal. The Democratic Party is too far to the left on many of these issues, embracing concepts such as sanctuary cities, which only reinforces its image as a party that is more concerned with race, identity and multiculturalism than the rule of law.
Where Bannon is analytic and historical, Trump is instinctive. But the president appears to see the situation similarly. I wrote last month that Trump would try to fight the midterm elections on immigration and added, “Do not be surprised if Trump also picks a few fights with black athletes.” In recent weeks, the president has labeled immigrant gang members “animals” and suggested that football players who silently protest police violence against blacks should leave the country.
Bannon thinks Trump is just getting started in nationalizing the election around immigration. He predicted the next major battle would be over the proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. “The wall is not just totemic. The wall is absolutely central to his program. . . . As we come up on Sept. 30, if [Congress’s] appropriations bill does not include spending to fully build his wall . . . I believe he will shut down the government.”
Bannon is advocating a simple divide and conquer strategy, centered on dividing the Democratic Party by race and ethnicity. It has nothing to do with economics. Bannon is on the record with what he calls his "nationalist" philosophy (actually good old fashioned authoritarianism/fascism)
Trump’s rise was, he said, transformative for America. But it was only one manifestation of a powerful global undercurrent. “That’s why,” he said, “you see a nationalist movement in Egypt, India, the Philippines, in South Korea, and now Abe in Japan. I’d say Putin and Xi in China are nationalists. Look at Le Pen in France, Orban in Hungary, and the nationalists in Poland.” Trump was, of course, the most consequential: “Look, I’ve been studying this for a while, and it’s amazing that Trump has been talking about these ideas for 25 years.”
Actually, he's an f-ing moron with authoritarian instincts. Anyway, here's a little more Bannon's recipe for destruction:
Bannon’s response to the rise of modernity was to set populist, right-wing nationalism against it. Wherever he could, he aligned himself with politicians and causes committed to tearing down its globalist edifice: archconservative Catholics such as Burke, Nigel Farage, and U.K.I.P., Marine Le Pen’s National Front, Geert Wilders and the Party for Freedom, and Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. (When he got to the White House, he also leveraged U.S. trade policy to strengthen opponents of the E.U.) This had a meaningful effect, even before Trump. “Bannon’s a political entrepreneur and a remarkable bloke,” Farage told me. “Without the supportive voice of Breitbart London, I’m not sure we would have had a Brexit.”
Initially, Bannon thought restoration lay in a rising political generation still some years off: figures such as Frauke Petry, of Germany’s right-wing Alternative für Deutschland, and Marion Maréchal‑Le Pen, niece of Marine, whose politics he approvingly described as “practically French medieval,” adding: “She’s the future of France.” It took some time for him to realize that in Trump (whose familiarity with French metaphysics, we can be certain, is no more than glancing) he had found a leader who could rapidly advance the nationalist cause, -- one who fit into the “unbroken chain” of populists in U.S. history that stretched from Hamilton to Clay to Polk to Teddy Roosevelt and now to Trump...
When he took over Trump’s campaign last August, Bannon ran a nationalist, divisive operation in which issues of race, immigration, culture, and identity were put front and center. This wasn’t by accident or lacking in purpose. By exhuming the nationalist thinkers of an earlier age, Bannon was trying to build an intellectual basis for Trumpism, or what might more accurately be described as an American nationalist-Traditionalism. Whatever the label, Trump proved to be an able messenger.
For all his paranoid alarm, Bannon believes that the rise of nationalist movements across the world, from Europe to Japan to the United States, heralds a return to tradition. “You have to control three things,” he explained, “borders, currency, and military and national identity. People are finally coming to realize that, and politicians will have to follow.” Trump, for one, certainly looks to be pursuing that agenda.
There is no need for an intellectual basis for Trumpism. It's all about crude racism and will to power, period, which is why Bannon's psuedo-intellectual blather meant nothing in the end and he was canned himself.
Trump pursues his own agenda: authoritarian kleptocratic corruption, which is also a strong feature of most of these "nationalist" regimes. It includes Bannon's divide and conquer strategy, but isn't limited to it. He's favoring interests, regions, industries, countries and people who flatter and/or worship him (it doesn't matter which.) That is the full extent of his motives. But as Bannon saw, these motives track very nicely with the global "nationalist" movement.
digby 6/02/2018 03:00:00 PM