If you didn’t know who Steve Bannon was before January 20th, you probably do now. Steve Bannon is the former executive director of Breitbart news, and current Chief Strategist for President Trump. He’s also the man recently portrayed as the grim reaper on Saturday Night Live. A little background; Bannon grew up the son of working-class parents in Norfolk, Virgina. He went to Virginia Tech University where he graduated in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in urban planning. He went on to earn a master’s degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown, and an M.B.A. from Harvard. In the late 1970s, he served as an officer in the U.S. Navy. Bannon then went on to work at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker, before switching over to the film industry, where he produced about 18 movies. In 2007, Bannon helped to found Breitbart News; a news, opinion and commentary website that was at the time known for promoting tea-party ideology. When Andrew Breitbart unexpectedly passed away in 2012, Bannon became executive chairman, and took the website in an “alt-right” direction. As Will Rhan, for CBS reports:
“Slowly but surely, Bannon turned Breitbart into not only the most-read conservative web outlet but also the most incendiary one. It was happy to embrace fringe beliefs like birtherism and play footsie with blatantly racist notions of black criminality. It wasn’t interested in looking even faintly objective, instead inventing easily understood “narratives” of crusading conservative heroes and their many victories against the hated left. Buckleyite movement conservatism had always been tethered away from all that by its desire for “respectability,” the idea that it should be taken seriously by outsiders as a real intellectual force. Bannon’s Breitbart didn’t have such scruples – it was playing directly to its very specific audience – and it would follow that audience wherever it went.”
Sound familiar? Anyhow…
A quick look at the comments section of the website will tell you all you need to now about Breitbart’s audience. The website has become a platform and breeding ground for those who identify as the “alt-right.”
Bannon is a self-described nationalist and Leninist, who has been quoted as saying:
“Lenin wanted to destroy the state and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down and destroy all of today’s establishment.”
If President Trump has a political philosophy, it has not become apparent. I think Noam Chomsky put it best when he said that Trump “has no known ideology other than me.” What has become apparent, is that President Trump lacks a strong moral center, or even guiding set of moral principles by which he plans to govern. Throughout his campaign he repeatedly eschewed questions regarding his policy stances, replying instead that he was going to put together team of “tremendous” individuals, “the best people” to formulate policy for him. To the point of other people writing policy for him, he has kept his word.
To the horror of many, two weeks into Trumps presidency, Bannon’s role in the White House is becoming clear. Many speculate that he was the “mastermind” (for an extreme lack of a better word) behind the immigration ban. Steve Bannon also gave himself a security clearance usually held by generals, and a permanent seat on the national security council. He did so by writing it into an executive order, which was signed by the President. Amazingly, the President apparently did not know this was in the executive order, because he didn’t read it.
If you had any question before about Bannon’s power in the administration, now you know that he is writing executive orders which President Trump will sign. Blindly. It’s been reported that not only does President Trump not read books, but that he won’t read anything longer than three paragraphs. Perhaps if he did, he would also have known that Bannon referred to him as “a blunt instrument for us” before adding “I don’t really know if he gets it or not.” Yes, the President’s top advisor essentially called the President a tool.
Steve Bannon’s political philosophy seems to be based on fear mongering, anger, and the perpetuation of misinformation. In my opinion, he is a much bigger threat to this country than President Trump. President Trump is notoriously thin-skinned. If there were a way to get Bannon out of the White House, publicly crediting Bannon as “the brains of the operation,” and portraying Trump as nothing more than Bannon’s puppet would probably be a great way to do it.