Why Stephen K. Bannon was such a failure – The Washington Post – Washington Post

Stephen K. Bannon, the recently deposed architect ofPresident Trumps nonexistent populist agenda, wishes it was the 1930s.

That, of course, is what he promised to do: to make things as exciting now as they were back then. Now, he might not have been talking about the war or the depression or the fascists in other countries, but what he did mean was a politics where racial resentment and economic populism could once again exist side-by-side. Where Republicans could targetMuslims for special restrictionsand raise the top marginal tax rate to 44 percent; could cut legal immigration in half and undo free trade deals; could stick up for white supremacistsand spend $1 trillion on infrastructure. In other words, where the ideological heirs of the Dixiecrats were the ones calling the shots.

They havent been for a long time now.

Why not? Well, because our parties have sorted themselves based on race first and economics second. The political history of the past 100 years, you see, has really been the story of the rise and fall of the New Deal coalition. Franklin D. Roosevelts response to the Great Depression brought blacks, liberals, Northern ethnics and Southern whites all together until the civil rights movement drove them apart. Its true that the Dixiecrats the Jim Crow-supporting Southerners who left the Democratic Party to form their own, before eventually migrating over to the Republican one werent all in favor of big government, but a lot of them were. Forced to choose between that and racial backlash, however, they chose racial backlash, whether that wascalls for law and order or denunciations of welfare queens or, in the past few years, chants of build the wall.

Bannon didnt want them to choose anymore. He understood that a lot of Republicans dont care about Ayn Rand-inspired odes to heroic entrepreneurs, or paeans to the Schumpeterian beauty of creative destruction, or how much capital gains are taxed. They want their Social Security and their Medicare. Theyre called Trump voters, and they arent really represented in Washington. Thats because the money men and interest groups that members of Congress rely on ensure complete ideological conformity on the issue nearest and dearest to the hearts or rather the wallets of the donor class: how much theyre taxed. Bannon wanted to change that so people could get Democratic economic policies together with a Republican brand of racial pandering.

The only problem is you cant. Just look at Bannons proposal to increase the top tax rate to 44 percent. Who was ever going to vote for that? Republicans never would when their partys entire raison detre for the past 40 years has been keeping taxes as low as possible on the rich. And neither would Democrats when Bannon had alienated them about as much as possible with his barely disguised attempt to ban Muslims. The same was true of infrastructure. Republicans didnt really want to do it, and Democrats didnt want to with Trump. It reduced Bannon to being able to do little more than alternately insist that he wanted to build a rainbow coalition of populists we'll get 60 percent of the white vote and 40 percent of the black and Hispanic vote, and well govern for 50 years, he rather modestly claimed and cheer, for example, when Trump said last Fridays neo-Nazi rally was full of very fine people. Bannon never understood that one made the other impossible.

Bannon thought he was a revolutionary, but he was just whistling Dixie.

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Why Stephen K. Bannon was such a failure - The Washington Post - Washington Post

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