This past Friday it was announced that Stephen K. Bannon, the supposed alt-right, anti-Semitic, racist political puppet master of Donald Trump, was leaving the White House. Later the same day Bannon revealed he would be returning to his old perch as the leader of the conservative website Breitbart.
Now, Bannon was never any of the terrible things the media painted him as. There was no evidence that the man was either racist or an anti-Semite. Even outspoken conservative Ben Shapiro, who worked with Bannon at Breitbart and hated the man, thought these charges were baseless.
As a Jewish American, I found the anti-Semitism charges particularly libelous. Apparently, the mainstream media was of the opinion that this notorious hater of Jews – their claim based on one charge by his ex-wife with whom he was involved in a custody dispute – had somehow finagled his way onto a website run by a prominent Jewish conservative, Andrew Breitbart. He stayed with the organization for four years, until Breitbart passed away, and then took control of it – working in tandem with a number of Jewish allies – and continued to run Breitbart as a pro-Israel website that also focused on exposing increasing anti-Semitism throughout the world (but especially in Europe).
Because, you see, this is what anti-Semites do.
Bannon was a conservative, unlike much of the remaining Trump administration, but his conservatism was different than the predominant strain in the GOP. He was a strong nationalist, who felt that the U.S. was too eager to jump into foreign wars, and that free trade was harmful to the country. He also was willing to push for huge amounts of infrastructure spending, and for increased taxes on the very wealthy. Essentially, Bannon was a throwback to old school Republicanism, like that of Pat Buchanan.
With the exception of also not being a neo-conservative, i.e., a Woodrow Wilson-type democracy promoter, say, along the lines of George W. Bush, I largely didn’t share most of Bannon’s above positions.
But, what I did share were some of his other, also politically incorrect, positions. The idea that illegal immigration should be solved by the legalization of all illegal immigrants always struck me as a really problematic solution. A nation that cannot police its borders is not much of a nation. I was equally disturbed by the rise of Islamist aggression throughout the world, which I believe is the major problem facing the West. And yes, the religion of Islam itself needs reform; Islam is different than all of the other religions that I am aware of, in that it is a religion that promotes war – jihad – against the unbeliever. People who claim otherwise are just uninformed or deluded.
However, what I really liked about Steve Bannon was his willingness, and ability, to fight back against Democrat/leftist ideology and propaganda, which so few Republicans are willing to do. The Democrats have shown, again and again, that when they fight, they fight (politically) to the death (of Republicans/conservatives). Every Republican, no matter how kind or principled, is portrayed as a racist, an anti-Semite, a homophobe, a child starver, or a Christian fundamentalist. Instead of returning the favor with their own insults, which is what you are supposed to do in politics, most Republicans either collapse in fear, and cave on their issues, or seek to differentiate themselves from those other, more barbarous Republicans, by throwing their partisan comrades under the bus to win plaudits from the media.
This is no way to win a political contest, which is why the GOP hasn’t done much winning for much of the past decade. And now that he is gone, we will see a partial return to this situation. This will make me miss Steve Bannon most of all.
Donald Trump does have a combative streak, so all is not lost. However, unlike Bannon, Trump is essentially an old school moderate Democrat, governing as a moderate Republican, (but being slandered by the mainstream mass media and Democrats as a radical alt-right conservative Republican). Trump also isn’t particularly ideological in his thinking. So, with an administration where the (probable) liberal Democrats, like Ivanka, Jared Kushner, Gary Cohn, and Steven Mnuchin (for god sakes, buy an “e,” Steve M), and the military officers who flourished under President Obama – meaning that they, too, are likely liberals – control virtually all the remaining positions, there is little reason to believe that much more conservative policy will be coming from the Trump administration (with the likely exception of more conservative judges).
The United States really could use a new Ronald Reagan right now.