The knives are out again for Steve Bannon. Every issue — no matter how convoluted or abstract — is seen as a means to an end for Democrats and some Never-Trumpers in their fight against the White House chief strategist. Removing Bannon now, as the administration gains steam, would be a mistake of massive proportions.
So what is Bannon’s eternal crime this time? Some on the left would have you believe the former Breitbart chief is leading a racist cabal on Pennsylvania Avenue, manifesting itself in tiki-torch rallies and horrific violence like we saw in Charlottesville, Va.
Let there be absolutely no confusion: White nationalism is despicable, anti-American, and unacceptable, full stop. And the events that happened in Charlottesville last weekend are abhorrent.
But white nationalism is not, and has never been, Bannon’s goal. In November, he told the Wall Street Journal he has “zero tolerance” for “racist or anti-Semitic views.” His aims have been the same since he joined the Trump team last year: economic and social populism. His vision was best characterized, by a former colleague, as an “egalitarian America First” policy. This is not connected to the racism or bigotry we saw in Charlottesville.
— The Hill (@thehill) August 15, 2017
Bannon’s tenure at the White House is the foundation of many of candidate and President Trump’s successes. It was Bannon and Kellyanne Conway’s message that got the Trump campaign through its darkest days after the Access Hollywood tape release. He was there at the time Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonOPINION | Tomi Lahren: The left politicizes tragedy — as usual Hunting for the real Trump on Charlottesville New Trump campaign emails show efforts to set up Russia meetings: report MORE was so far ahead of Trump she “didn’t even think” about him anymore. Because of Bannon, that story is the epitaph on the grave of Hillary’s political ambitions.
Now it appears General McMaster wants Bannon out. Rumblings at the White House insinuate Bannon is a leaker. But let’s go through the facts. Why would the administration’s top strategist leak out vital info about the president’s planning? There’s been no direct evidence that Bannon ever leaked any information at all. In fact, many of the top White House leaks seem to target Bannon. The biggest secrets came from former FBI Director James Comey himself.
Still, the recent administration shakeup, with John Kelly entering as chief of staff, seems like a perfect pretext to send off one of President Trump’s most controversial allies in a Viking funeral. From an optics perspective, some of the more establishment types around the president see the opening. Bannon could be tossed out and replaced with a former military figure or a Bush holdover. But neither fits the bill right now.
Many of the reluctant Trump and anti-Hillary voters are wavering. In poll after poll, the president’s base is the largest share of his approval rating. Getting rid of Bannon would be a middle finger to the working class that Bannon’s populist theme spoke to. If Trump was the flame, Bannon’s message was the propellant that created the electoral inferno last November.
Both the reluctant Trump voters and diehards each wanted the same thing when they went to the polls last November: economic success. Now that the dust is settled from the failure to repeal ObamaCare, many other portions of the White House’s agenda are ready for action. Tax reform, infrastructure, immigration restrictions, and more are ready.
— The Hill (@thehill) August 13, 2017
If Bannon goes, so do Trump’s biggest ties to his own base. So long to innovative policy ideas. Goodbye to credible outreach to blue-collar factory workers and miners. Au revoir to President Trump’s political capital. Once Bannon goes, there’s no going back.
The American working class backed Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIntel CEO becomes third exec to leave Trump council after Charlottesville Rupert Murdoch urged Trump to fire Bannon: report Protesters descend on Trump Tower as president returns home MORE in record numbers for a reason. Bannon’s views on trade, immigration, taxes, and foreign policy crafted the Trump campaign’s most successful moments. His influence in the White House has been one of the most stable and influential in policy debates.
The American people abandoned standard milquetoast Beltway conservatism and politics as usual last year. We don’t need to go back to an Establishment GOP approach for these complex and important issues.
Bannon is more than the idea guy. He is perhaps the one person indispensable to Trump’s goals, aside from the president himself.
Kristin Tate is a conservative columnist and author of the book “Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You For a Ride And What You Can Do About It.” She was recently named one of NewsMax’s “30 Most Influential Republicans Under 30.”
The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.