What Happens to Bannonism After Bannon?

The President single-handedly turned the book from a racy tell-all that would have enthused the Beltway and media crowds into a must-have consumer product—the literary equivalent of a new iPhone

.. Not only did Trump put out a lengthy statement on Thursday bashing Steve Bannon, his former senior adviser, for coöperating with Wolff on his “phoney” book, his lawyers sent a letter to the publisher, Henry Holt, demanding that it halt publication. From that moment on, every self-respecting Trump hater in the country simply had to buy a copy.

.. a separate denunciation of Bannon from his longtime financial sponsor, the hedge-fund heiress Rebekah Mercer, who is a part-owner of Breitbart, the scrappy Web site that Bannon turned into a platform for Trump and the alt-right. “My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements,” Mercer said

.. “Bannon is resisting. He’s quite like Trump in this respect: he views any apology or admission of error as a sign of weakness.”

.. Trump thought the Mercers were as odd as everybody else thought. He didn’t like Bob Mercer looking at him and not saying a word; he didn’t like being in the same room as Mercer or his daughter. These were super-strange bedfellows—‘wackos’ in his description.”

.. not the demise of his ambitions to transform the G.O.P. into a nationalist/protectionist party modelled on the European right but the opening of a new front. Freed from the constraints of being inside the Administration, Bannon would be able to recruit candidates, raise money, and take down members of the Republican establishment.

.. Trump, in Bannon’s view, was a chapter, or even a detour, in the Trump revolution, which had always been about weaknesses in the two major parties

.. Trump was just the beginning.”

Why This Election Terrifies Me

Last weekend a man who was getting a head start on Halloween attended a University of Wisconsin football game in a costume that depicted Barack Obama with a noose around his neck.

.. He has modeled contempt for civilized norms and even the rule of law, endorsing violence against protesters, expressing admiration for a Russian autocrat, pledging a clampdown on the press, suggesting that Second Amendment enthusiasts might want to take a shot at Clinton, and promising to throw her in jail.

.. But I can’t identify a single issue like that, domestic or foreign, in 2016, because no campaign in my adult lifetime has turned so little on policy and so much on character.

.. it feels as if we’re coming out of this election with four parties:

  1. the Paul Ryan Republicans,
  2. the Freedom Caucus,
  3. the establishment Democrats and
  4. the Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders brigade,

which is raring to use the muscle that Sanders flexed during the primaries for legislation more progressive than anything that the House would ever approve.

.. Trump prophesies a “constitutional crisis.” Republicans raise the specters of “impeachment” and “indictment.” And Rudy Giuliani demands an assurance from Obama that he won’t pardon Clinton, who is favored to win even though only 47 percent of the people who are planning to vote for her can muster any considerable enthusiasm about it.

Yes, Trump Has Destroyed The GOP

If Trump wins, he will remake the party entirely in his image. But because he cannot govern himself, he cannot govern the country. By the end of his presidency (whether it comes via impeachment or voter rejection in 2020), the GOP will be a smoking ruin.

.. If Trump loses, he won’t go away. It will be all-Dolchstosslegende, all the time (Drumpfstosslegende?) He will be a constant presence on the public scene, hectoring the Republican Party, denouncing its leaders for betraying him, and keeping his base riled up. Because of his big mouth and gift for self-promotion, he stands to make himself, not Congressional Republicans, the voice of opposition to President Hillary Clinton.

.. Did Trump destroy the GOP? Of course he did. But you could also argue that the Bush family did, first by the presidency of George W., and then by the fact that Jeb Bush, early in the primaries, blew a fortune in donor cash to destroy Marco Rubio. Rubio not only may have been the only Republican who had a chance at beating Trump, but it’s also true that money spent to annihilate his candidacy was money not spent on stopping Trump.

The outlines of the two-party system of the 2020s and 2030s are dimly visible. The Republicans will be a party of mostly working-class whites, based in the South and West and suburbs and exurbs everywhere. They will favor universal, contributory social insurance systems that benefit them and their families and reward work effort—programs like Social Security and Medicare. But they will tend to oppose means-tested programs for the poor whose benefits they and their families cannot enjoy.

They will oppose increases in both legal and illegal immigration, in some cases because of ethnic prejudice; in other cases, for fear of economic competition. The instinctive economic nationalism of tomorrow’s Republicans could be invoked to justify strategic trade as well as crude protectionism. They are likely to share Trump’s view of unproductive finance: “The hedge-fund guys didn’t build this country. These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky.”

The Democrats of the next generation will be even more of an alliance of upscale, progressive whites with blacks and Latinos, based in large and diverse cities. They will think of the U.S. as a version of their multicultural coalition of distinct racial and ethnic identity groups writ large. Many younger progressives will take it for granted that moral people are citizens of the world, equating nationalism and patriotism with racism and fascism.

The withering-away of industrial unions, thanks to automation as well as offshoring, will liberate the Democrats to embrace free trade along with mass immigration wholeheartedly. The emerging progressive ideology of post-national cosmopolitanism will fit nicely with urban economies which depend on finance, tech and other industries of global scope, and which benefit from a constant stream of immigrants, both skilled and unskilled.

Time for a Realignment

This is the last presidential election in which two baby boomers will be running against each other. In the years ahead, politics will no longer be defined by the hidden animosities of the Vietnam era, by the sexual revolution/culture war issues of the 1970s.

.. The crucial social divide today is between those who feel the core trends of the global, information-age economy as tailwinds at their backs and those who feel them as headwinds in their face.

.. the most important social divide today is between a well-educated America that is marked by economic openness, traditional family structures, high social capital and high trust in institutions, and a less-educated America that is marked by economic insecurity, anarchic family structures, fraying community bonds and a pervasive sense of betrayal and distrust.

.. what Ronald Brownstein of The Atlanticdescribed in 2012 as the Coalition of Transformation versus the Coalition of Restoration.

.. The Republican Party is now a coalition of globalization-loving business executives and globalization-hating white workers. That’s untenable.

.. At its molten core, the Republican Party has become the party of the dispossessed, not the party of cosmopolitan business.

.. The Democratic Party is currently a coalition of the upscale urban professionals who make up the ruling class and less-affluent members of minorities who feel betrayed by it.

.. We don’t normally think that politics is divided along trust lines. But this year we’re seeing huge chasms depending upon how much trust you feel toward your neighbors and your national institutions. Disaffected low-trust millennials see things differently than the Hollywood, tech, media and academic professionals who actually run the party.

Why Hasn’t the Republican Party Collapsed?

We shouldn’t be asking whether the GOP is falling apart. We ought to be wondering why it isn’t.

The parties have historically been structured to accommodate racism and racial conflict. Neither one was created with our current norms about racial equality in mind. If a new party were founded today, we might expect that it would have goals like addressing racial inequality or income inequality in a modern economy, or developing a workable immigration system. Both parties have some ideas about these things, but they’re often shoehorned into policy and ideological agendas inherited from years ago. New issues are often foisted onto coalitions

.. Geography and state representation still play a role in the American political system. But when the first conventions were held, New York had a population of about 200,000. A system developed today might do even more to represent Americans by age, gender or ethnic background

.. yoking together seemingly unrelated ideas—gun control, tax reform and health care, for example—in ways that make it impossible for any of them to move forward

.. as the Democratic coalition has become more diverse and reliant on voters who are people of color, Democratic state parties have run into some criticism for celebrating Jefferson-Jackson Day—usually an annual fundraising gala that celebrates two historic, slave-owning Democrats, hosted by a party that now prides itself on embracing racial equality.

.. The Democrats have long been a party of process. The early party included members who disagreed on slavery, westward expansion and tariffs.

.. The Republican Party, meanwhile, has long been a party of ideology, created in the 1850s with a much more specific guiding principle in mind: stopping the expansion of slavery. Ever since, that difference—one party, a pragmatic alliance; the other, an ideological one—has meant that the Republican Party is more prone to ideological fights blowing up into potential existential crises.

.. The Republican Party, meanwhile, has long been a party of ideology, created in the 1850s with a much more specific guiding principle in mind: stopping the expansion of slavery. Ever since, that difference—one party, a pragmatic alliance; the other, an ideological one—has meant that the Republican Party is more prone to ideological fights blowing up into potential existential crises.

.. In the 1890s, the party emerged from a struggle over economic policy with a populist agenda and presidential candidate—William Jennings Bryan, who would win the party’s presidential nomination for the first of three times in 1896.

.. In 1948, Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Humphrey (then running for a U.S. Senate seat) and FDR’s own successor, Harry Truman, saw the possibility of bringing together moral principles and electoral gain by making the Democrats the party of civil rights. This didn’t go over well with everyone. Civil rights drove a wedge straight through the party’s North-South coalition.

.. a group of moderate Democrats organized under the banner of the Democratic Leadership Council to promote an approach to governing that was neither liberal nor conservative, but rather a “third way.” This movement culminated with the presidency of Bill Clinton, whose support for traditionally Republican stances like welfare reform led some on the left to question what the Democratic Party stood for at all.

.. the surprise success of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign suggests some pent-up demand for a more ideologically committed Democratic Party devoted to clearer principles of social provision, income equality and a noninterventionist foreign policy.

 

The Party Still Decides

Trump, though, is cut from a very different cloth. He’s an authoritarian, not an ideologue, and his antecedents aren’t Goldwater or McGovern; they’re figures like George Wallace and Huey Long

.. A man so transparently unfit for office should not be placed before the American people as a candidate for president under any kind of imprimatur save his own. And there is no point in even having a party apparatus, no point in all those chairmen and state conventions and delegate rosters, if they cannot be mobilized to prevent 35 percent of the Republican primary electorate from imposing a Trump nomination on the party.

.. What Trump has demonstrated is that in our present cultural environment, and in the Republican Party’s present state of bankruptcy, the first lines of defense against a demagogue no longer hold.

.. But the party’s convention rules, in all their anachronistic, undemocratic and highly-negotiable intricacy, are also a line of defense, also a hurdle, also a place where a man unfit for office can be turned aside.