I love Stephen K. Bannon. No, not amorous love, that’s a thought beyond repulsive in his case. I love him because he continues to terrorize GOP mainstream leaders. And with the 2018 mid-terms fast steamrolling toward us, my political love affair with him will only grow. The aftermath of the Judge Roy Moore Alabama Senate race cinched things for me with Bannon.
At a meeting of conservative big wigs at the Trump International Hotel in D.C. a few days after the Alabama election, Bannon was unrepentant and defiant. He defended his long and loud tout of Moore’s candidacy. He poked an accusing finger at the GOP establishment for cutting bait on Moore, and leaving him dangling almost alone in supporting him. But ominously, he vowed to do everything he could to rip the GOP establishment apart. To Bannon, GOP mainstream leaders, not the Democrats, are Political Enemy Number One.
It’s his declared war on them that is the cause of terror and some panic within the GOP. Bannon has even fine tuned his GOP target even sharper. He is going full throttle after the man who symbolizes all in his world that’s wrong with the GOP top dogs. That’s Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He got it right. McConnell is the glue hat holds the GOP establishment together. The Senate is the name of the game in getting anything legislatively done. And almost nothing gets done there without McConnell.
Bannon’s main beef with him is that he’s an old Senate and legislative pro who at times will conciliate, vacillate, and compromise to get something done. The compromise means occasionally talking and working with Democrats to the point of taking some of the roughest and rawest edges off the take no-prisoners ultra conservative stance. That is anti-immigration, eviscerating Medicare, Social Security, union and labor protections, and giving total free rein to corporate, free market domination.
The scary thing for the GOP about Bannon is that he’s got just enough name recognition, and clout, and a big enough media platform with Breitbart to be an even bigger political headache for them in 2018. He’ll almost certainly stump for a handful of right-wing insurgent senatorial candidates in at least two states, and probably a few more in 2018. GOP party leaders who control the money, media spin and party apparatus will do everything they can to maneuver and massage the primaries and convention to ensure that the noise and mischief Bannon makes will die before primary season begins. That may not happen. But the media and public obsession with Bannon likely won’t flame out.
Bannon has another advantage. His mug will be seen often on Fox, and on news shows. The overexposure will make it that much easier for him to raise funds and build the type of grassroots organization he’ll need to be any kind of real threat. It’s that prospect that sweats the GOP leaders. There are reports that frantic calls are being by GOP leaders to big gun donors imploring them not to give a nickel to Bannon and the GOP insurgent candidates he backs. The hit-him-at the money source, may or may not work. The flip side of the Moore loss did show that there are a lot of Republicans that liked what Moore stood for and were willing to go to the barricades for him. Those Moore Republicans aren’t just in Alabama.
The Bannon GOP hopefuls say that they can come from relative political obscurity in a relatively short period of time and make a serious run against the GOP establishment anointed candidates and incumbents. Bannon is their get name recognition card.
Bannon’s strength is to play on and to stoke popular rage and frustration with tin ear politicians who’ve turned voters into invisible men and women. That translates to millions of disgruntled, frustrated voters who will be sorely tempted to push, prod and hector the GOP to give the Moore’s of the GOP their due. Many will be just as sorely tempted to vote for them as maverick candidates, or if their name is not on any ballot, stay at home. This would be tantamount to a vote for the Democrat foe. This would be an even bigger disaster for the GOP.
Bannon, then, is the GOP’s textbook Catch-22. If they pound him too hard this will only push the hard right and populist right even into a bigger frenzy against the GOP anointed office seekers or holders. That’s tantamount to a vote for the Democrats. In fact, 20,000 plus GOP voters in Alabama that did not cross over and vote for Democrat Doug Jones. Instead they wrote in “any Republican other than Moore.” This in effect was a vote for Jones. This was enough to tip the race to him. It can happen again in 2018, That’s my hope. And that’s why I love Bannon for helping make that happen.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His latest book is, The Trump Challenge to Black America (Middle Passage Press). He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.