The Meaning of Bannon vs. Trump

Two quick thoughts on the Steve Bannon-President Trump feud:

One, it’s a sign of the apparent seriousness of the Russia investigation for Trump’s family and inner circle. The insults got the attention, but the more significant part of Bannon’s remarks may be the “logical, cold-eyed recognition” that prosecutors are building a powerful case, notes Errol Louis at CNN.

.. Two, the feud is a reminder that Bannon has failed to accomplish his biggest ambition: Expanding the Republican coalition to include many more middle-class and working-class voters. “Steve Bannon had a chance to be a genuinely significant figure in American politics and he blew it,” my colleague Ross Douthat wrote on Twitter.

.. In his interview with The Times last week, President Trump spoke admiringly of obviously autocratic tactics, such as using law enforcement as a raw exercise of power. “The president,” as Jonathan Chait points out, “explained his belief that the Department of Justice on principle ought to cover up crimes by the president and his administration.” Trump clearly believes that he deserves to be above the rule of law.

.. The first and most important line of defense, they say, is Trump’s own party. In other countries, would-be authoritarians have often been stopped (or further empowered) by their own party.

..Most Republican leaders seem to know that Trump is grossly unfit for office,

.. Yet “few Republicans have been willing to state publicly what most of them surely know: the Emperor has no clothes. Fear and opportunism have prevailed over the defense of our country and its democratic institutions.”

..  Try to build broader coalitions in defense of democracy. To ensure democracy’s survival, we must build alliances that extend beyond traditional party lines. For liberals, this means forging perhaps uncomfortable alliances — with right-of-center businesspeople, evangelical Christians, and dissident conservatives, among others. A blue-state coalition is simply not enough.