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Mother of Mercy—Is This the End of Bannon?
Steve Bannon is gone, and I'm happy— and not just because he looks like my dad.
While he lacked the ability to be any sort of brilliant Machiavellian statesman, a status bestowed on him for knowing his way around some Freakonomics and obscure Nationalist readings in a city where one of the “good” Democrats thinks a literary dinner party would be boring, what Bannon understood is politics is a game of throwing raving packs of dogs memorable bones.
From these eyes, a lot of reactionary politics is essentially complaining about things and then laying feet at the blame of marginalized groups. America has a horrible infrastructure that you can’t use without your system getting jostled by a pothole every couple of miles. Why? If you’re the kind of guy who reads Breitbart, it’s because we’re spending so much money on the welfare state or healthcare. Thus, Bannon proposes we spend a bunch of money to get in the hole to build our manufacturing back up. Of course, that money would increase our deficit. You can read all over the place why deficit spending isn’t the horror we suspect and that the United States doesn’t work like your personal spending account.
In essence it was an attempt to create a Neo New Deal that still took 90% of its funding from private financiers. The question then becomes a thought experiment: if you had shiny, nice roads to drive on and you’re not a person who pores over the news, would you care who got paid to fix the roads up? Sort of like the oft quoted bromide that Mussolini made the trains run on time, people like when you can connect with them that they can simply point to and that runs through even estimations of who our greatest president was. Why was Lincoln great? He won the Civil War and freed the slaves. Why was Washington great? George Washington set the tone for the country, two terms, etc. Roosevelt? FDR got us out of the Great Depression. And Trump and Bannon might have given you roads. But alas.
Herein lies the issue: everyone uses roads. We know the roads are bad. How would we feel if Trump fixed the roads? Would it be his version of Nixon’s EPA? Or a failure? And would it even matter to a Breitbart voter if gets to imagine he’s sailing the high seas in his minivan?
Therein lies the danger of Bannon. A good number of Bannon’s beliefs are orthodox, but he’s has enough flavoring that it’s an entire philosophy. In the absolute most terrifying of the future I can come up with: there is an entire crushed populace put under the wheels to create a progress for things that eventually will become greater problems. Roads fall apart. But if the version of Bannon’s economics wins out, one where protectionism and high tariffs become vogue again and are married to a blood and soil defense of ourselves that sees racial and imperial misery as a necessary cudgel to create a Tick Tock Man world full of smiling white families, that has a psychic effect that could be as devastating as anything we’ve already faced. And the scary thing is, you could say this is the world we have.
For all of his dysfunction and inability to whip health care votes, Bannon does have an intrinsic political world view he was able to marry to Trump. So here’s what there is to watch out for now: who’s next? If you don’t think a Republican candidate will work with Bannon again or vice versa, I’d like to sell you an umbrella hat for monsoons.
A lot has been made of Trump as the apex of policies and tendencies, but I think he’s thus far been a failed experiment that somebody will one day look at and figure out, once again, how to say the loud part quiet. And that’s where Bannon will come in, because there’s always a market for a new Atwater. That which is not dead can eternal lie.