The promotion of John Kelly to Chief of Staff. The rise of leftists in President Trump’s ear. The purging of right and alt-right personalities in the administration, including Steve Bannon himself. These things might make an observer believe that Bannon would be fighting the President now that he’s back in charge at Breitbart. That’s not the case. In fact, Bannon may be the President’s most powerful ally.
On 60 Minutes, Bannon revealed his undying commitment to President Trump and the agenda he helped to craft. His tone was a bit less harsh than he’s been in the past, even saying that Obamacare shouldn’t be fully repealed, but his fervor for the man who made him a household name appears to be completely unshaken.
That’s not to say Bannon won’t be on the attack. He has some very clear targets in mind. No, it’s not the Democrats. No, it isn’t the liberals embedded in the Trump administration. Bannon and Breitbart are going to go after their familiar foes: Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and anyone Bannon feels is standing in the way of Trump’s plans.
He’s going to push for them to be primaried. He’ll hit them in ways that will weaken them for general elections, even allowing Republicans to lose seats if necessary. The new Steve Bannon is the old Steve Bannon, just better known and more empowered than ever. It creates a strange conundrum for Federalists and constitutional conservatives who do not embrace the alt-right mentality. If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, then Bannon is a friend, right? We don’t like the GOP Establishment. Neither does he. Therefore, we’re on the same side? No. Absolutely not. The Red Sox and the Mets can both hate the Yankees without being on the same team. So too can we share a distaste for the Establishment without sharing Breitbart’s love affair with the alt-right.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted that we would be giving Breitbart a chance. That chance is on the verge of being completely over. Based upon the rhetoric coming from Bannon on 60 Minutes plus the clickbait coverage we’re seeing on Breitbart.com, it’s clear that they’re not a true conservative ally. They’re just a separate force opposing some of the same things we oppose. He’s still a big government guy. He’s still an alt-right guy. He’s still the guy who deflects questions about the white supremacists who support him rather than outright denouncing them as he should.
Bannon was asked why he’s no longer in the White House. “I cannot take the fight to the people we have to take the fight to when I’m a federal government employee,” Bannon replied.
This is the truest answer he gave in the interview. He’s no longer on the White House payroll. He no longer represents the administration directly. That makes him the wildcard he’s always wanted to be. Now, he’s going to use the opportunity he made for himself over the last year to take the alt-right message to the people.
Here’s the problem and the biggest fear I have in all this. While wreaking havoc, what damage will he do? Does he care? I can’t answer the first question, but the answer to the second question is quite obvious. He doesn’t care. If taking out Paul Ryan means putting a Democrat in both the congressional seat as well as the Speaker’s office, so be it. As an agent of chaos, his long-term view is that it’s always best to make big changes regardless of the consequences. That’s the real difference between what Breitbart wants to do and what we want to do. Our goal is to put the right people in office. Breitbart’s goal is to put anyone else in office other than the people they don’t like.
The biggest challenge to conservatism isn’t from the left. It’s from the tainting effects of the alt-right as they run away from small-government, constitutionally-sound messaging so they can spread new, perverse, and false definitions of modern “conservatism.”