MEMBERS ONLY: Republicans Can’t Stop Steve Bannon From Destroying Their Party

by Justin Rosario

For the past eight years, a civil war has been waged for control of the Republican Party. It’s been “The establishment” versus “The extremist fringe of white nationalism”, and the fringe has been winning over and over and over again. So, really, it hasn’t been so much a civil war as a steady march towards white nationalism and the inevitable destruction of the party.

After the fall of the House of Bush, the Koch brothers invented the Tea Party “revolution” to capture the racist rage gripping conservative voters over the election of a black man to the presidency. The media, of course, loved it and gave the Tea Party an astonishing amount of free and favorable coverage without looking too closely at the ridiculousness of their claims. “Taxed Enough Already?” “Fiscally conservative?” “Not interested in social issues?” The “liberal” media couldn’t put the slightest effort into dispelling those obvious lies?

It made for great ratings and the press was more than eager to push the narrative that the Tea Party was only concerned with economic issues. Sure, we kept seeing Confederate flags and racist slogans at every single Tea Party rally and, yes, they wouldn’t stop talking about how much they hated immigrants and gay people and abortion and birth control and gun control and liberals and black people and Muslims and Sharia Law but look at how adorable those tri-corn hats are! Keep those cameras rolling! Why let what tea partiers actually said get in the way of the story the press wanted to tell?

And so the Tea Party took over the Republican Party. The party shifted violently to the right, which was a neat trick considering how hard it had already shifted after 9/11. The dog whistles of the Southern Strategy became less of a whistle and more of a bullhorn. Violent, eliminationist rhetoric became normal. Laughably stupid conspiracy theories were mainstreamed. Alternate realities that absolutely rejected inconvenient facts became the entire world of conservatives. After years of sneering at liberal “whining”, the American right wing shamelessly embraced a persecution complex that would embarrass even the most manipulative sitcom grandmother.

Today, Republicans voters are simple creatures, much like the Eloi and the Morlocks from The Time Machine. They’re easy to control and they don’t bother thinking for themselves very much.- whoever pushes their outrage button the hardest wins and Bannon has his finger on the “white genocide” button. Fox News’ dog whistle racism can’t compete with that.

The Tea Party won because they told bigger and louder and uglier lies. They appealed to hate directly. They encouraged rage and fear and paranoia. Republicans went along with it but never quite knew how to do it themselves. It’s why the Freedom caucus is such a pain in their ass; they know that GOP leadership can’t touch them. The establishment’s inability to elect their own extremists gives Tea Party extremists all the power. Bannon knows it and he’s exploiting the weakness Republicans themselves created with gerrymandering and massive voter suppression.

By rigging elections so egregiously, Republicans have made it possible for a relatively small number of people to control the process. They assumed it would elect the corporate and billionaire friendly people they wanted so they were unprepared for Bannon and his white nationalist movement. It turns out that when you build a base almost entirely rooted in the fear of brown skin, the person that says he’ll make America white again is going to steal your base from you very easily.

Now Bannon is leading the new revolt against the establishment. This revolt, just like the Tea Party, is loud, obnoxious, full of bullshit, and wouldn’t you know it? The press can’t stop talking about it. Again.

Don’t expect those headlines to stop until Bannon is the head of the RNC or until he inevitably dies from liver failure. Also don’t expect any of those articles to look at the white nationalist aspect of Bannon’s followers because that would absolutely destroy the narrative the press is building. The fact that they’re helping literal Nazis seize control of one of our two major political parties doesn’t seem to concern the press in the slightest. They have ad revenue to consider and they don’t have time to worry about petty concerns like enabling people who preach mass murder to take power.

Meanwhile, Republicans have no idea how to stop Bannon because how do you argue against white nationalism when your entire party is predicated on white supremacy? What would that argument even sound like?

Dear fellow Republicans,

We know that you hate black people and Latinos as much as we do but don’t you think killing them all at once is just a little extreme? At least our way, using mass incarceration, drug overdoses, police brutality, extreme poverty, and modern slavery, we can get rid of them and make it seem like it’s their own fault!

Come back to the establishment, we’ll get rid of them, too but we won’t have their blood on our hands. In the meantime, we can make them pay taxes and take away their Social Security before they retire. But not yours. Never yours. We promise. Scout’s honor!

The only realistic way to stop Bannon is to make gerrymandered districts competitive again and undo the voter suppression laws so Republican politicians will be forced back towards the center and the extremists will be forced back into the wilderness. But since that would be the end of the Republican Party’s ability to cut taxes for the rich and end all corporate regulations, the two core reasons the GOP even exists, they’re not going to do that. Ever.

So, if recent history is any guide, Steve Bannon, even without Trump in the White House, is going to win his war against the GOP establishment and turn the party into a bastion of white nationalism. Hooray for American exceptionalism! We’re exceptionally screwed up!

Bannon’s Republican Party only ends one of three ways:

1. The party is annihilated from the inside – America’s white nationalists haven’t been organized in the last 100 years because they’re assholes. Once they’re in power, the backstabbing will make the Red Wedding look like a pleasant family get-together. The implosion will be seen from orbit but the collateral damage will be immense.

2. The party is annihilated from the outside – When the GOP starts flying swastikas next to the American flag, Bernie vs. Hillary will seem like an adorable slap fight on playground. I know Trump voters like to pretend they’re the majority of America but once the Republican Party elects its first openly Nazi member (not as far off as you might hope), I think they’re going to find that disinterested 50% of the electorate is suddenly very interested in voting against the party that embraces Nazis. 

3. The party is victorious – The most powerful nation in the world is now controlled by white nationalists who do not believe in democracy or the rule of law. We’ve seen this movie before but this time with nuclear weapons, unlimited resources, and a military unmatched in human history. The world would be a radioactive wasteland within 50 years.

But please, “liberal” media, continue giving Steve Bannon and his revolution all the free press he could ever want. It’s not like helping the Tea Party seize control of the GOP had any negative consequences for the country or anything. What could possibly go wrong this time?