Opinion

Bannon's radical vision

The Trump whisperer is organizing a populist revolution

This is the editor's letter in the current issue of The Week magazine.

Laugh at Steve Bannon. Go ahead. Snigger at his grizzled, unkempt, soup-kitchen mien and his multiple layers of XXL dress shirts. Roll your eyes at the ogre's vainglorious rhetoric. "I'm never backing down," Bannon said after appearing in court this week on contempt charges for defying a subpoena from the House's Jan. 6 special committee. "We're taking down the Biden regime." Who's we? The populist, nativist movement Bannon helped launch and shape a decade ago through the gleefully racist, misogynistic, and rabidly anti-immigrant website Breitbart. In 2015, Bannon harnessed that movement to a New York City real estate mogul named Donald Trump. He's "a blunt instrument for us," Bannon explained.

For his central role in propelling Trump to the White House, Bannon was rewarded with a West Wing job as chief strategist; after a big falling-out, a Bannon indictment for alleged fraud on a failed border-wall project, and a Trump pardon, Bannon returned to Trump's circle after the 2020 election. He joined a "war room" of loons and opportunists who told the humiliated president that yes, the election had been stolen and that the results could be overturned. On a Jan. 5 podcast, Bannon advised his populist army: "Strap in. All hell is going to break loose." What did he know about the violent attack on the Capitol the next day — and who else knew it? The House committee would like to ask him those questions under oath. Naturally, Bannon has refused to testify. With the Volk behind him, he need not bow to the elite's silly norms, laws, and subpoenas. "We're taking over school boards," a defiant Bannon said. "We're taking over the Republican Party with the precinct committee strategy. Suck on this!" Jan. 6 was but the first skirmish; the war has just begun. "Stand by," Bannon advised the Volk as he livestreamed outside the courthouse. "We're going to go on offense." Go ahead and laugh.

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