Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, November 13, 2017
It was a scene unimaginable a little over a year ago: Michigan, a red state; establishment Republicans at the Michigan Lincoln/Reagan Day Dinner affirming the need to stand with President Donald J. Trump; and the keynote speaker, Steve Bannon, the head of Breitbart News, commemorating the victory one year ago as the “high holy day of MAGA.”
Populism has conquered the GOP. But as Steve Bannon slammed the “Establishment,” it was hard not to think of the ending of Animal Farm. If the party bosses are now declaring their solidarity with Mr. Bannon and President Trump, isn’t Mr. Bannon in danger of becoming part of the “Establishment?” Has the Trump Revolution that conquered both political parties already been co-opted?
“Populism,” after all, is a nebulous term, and we’ve been here before. There’s nothing new about the conservative movement tapping Culture War issues to turn out the white vote — that’s precisely what George W. Bush did in his re-election campaign in 2004. This energy was then squandered on a misguided effort to reform Social Security and the pointless war in Iraq. Mr. Bannon now calls him the “single most destructive president in U.S. history.”
Mr. Trump will be remembered the same way if his movement is co-opted by the Republican Establishment. His presidency will have done more harm than good if all he accomplishes is to energize the Left, disappoint the hopes of the white working class, and slow — rather than reverse — the decline of the European-American majority the GOP depends on.
Mr. Bannon’s speech in Michigan shows that’s a real danger. On some levels, it was inspiring and hopeful, and struck notes any white advocate can agree with. Mr. Bannon slammed the media for bias and deception. He described Hillary Clinton — accurately — as the “tribune of a corrupt and incompetent elite.” He defended ordinary Americans who recognize their country is being destroyed “economically, culturally, militarily,” adding that “things can’t go on like this . . . things have to change.”
At times, Mr. Bannon achieved real eloquence. His speech was more than a call to action for political victory, but a summons to civilizational duty. “We have a culture and civilization that’s dying in front of us,” he intoned. “It’s been bequeathed to us from what, 12, 13, 14 generations of Americans? On every battlefield they fought for. And handed down to us, to let it slip away in our generation?”
Mr. Bannon also concisely defined the Trump agenda that delivered victory in November 2016:
- Number one — stop illegal mass immigration and start to deal with legal immigration to get our sovereignty back.
- Number two — bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States.
- And number three — we have to bring an end to these pointless foreign wars.
Most importantly, in a notable departure from the typical Conservatism, Inc. talk of a “proposition nation,” Mr. Bannon specifically identified people as what makes America special.
It’s not the land that makes us special. The Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence and you know, Hamilton’s Report on Manufactures, and all those great founding documents that we revere and helped set this country up in a way unique in human history, they’re not even what makes us unique. All the wealth and capital we’ve been able to preserve . . . that’s not it. It’s the American people.
This is practically heresy to an American Right that seems to believe either America’s soil or America’s pieces of paper have magic transformative properties to turn a Somali into a Middle American.
But who specifically is Mr. Bannon referring to when he says “the American people?” Mr. Bannon paid special tribute to Macomb County as the heart of the coalition that delivered victory to President Trump. He slammed America’s elite, asking, “Who represents the interests of the working men and women of Macomb County?”
Well, according to the 2015 American Community Survey, Macomb County is 81.4 percent white. Who does represent these people?
Mr. Bannon mocked the local Detroit Free Press, which initially called Michigan for Hillary Clinton. The Press missed the Trump victory in its own backyard. This happened, said Mr. Bannon, because “they didn’t take into account in the algorithm the turnout for Donald Trump in places like Macomb County and in places like rural Michigan.”
“That’s why in their model and in the models of all the ABC, CBS, the joint venture, the consortium who runs it, that they thought they were correct,” he continued. “And they were dead wrong. Because their model was based upon what happened traditionally. And that night was not traditional. And that’s why it behooves us to go back and think about how we won that and where we are today.”
What Mr. Bannon is implicitly admitting but won’t say is that Mr. Trump won by turning out the white vote, especially white workers. On Election Day, everyone is a believer in “identity politics.” All those GOP consultants who lecture Republicans about how they shouldn’t associate with this or that “white nationalist” have intricately detailed models about the demographics of the electorate. They may condemn white advocacy, but every one of them builds campaign strategies based on appealing to different racial groups in different ways.
Demography is destiny in American politics. Mr. Bannon knows this as well as anyone. In the wake of Ed Gillespie’s defeat in Virginia, Mr. Bannon casually referred to the Old Dominion as a blue state and mentioned how he never thought the Republicans would come within two or three points (Trump lost by five, fewer than Ed Gillespie’s nine). Mr. Bannon also said Mr. Trump spent more time in Virginia “than I felt comfortable with.”
Again, the reason why Virginia has become a blue state, and why Republicans are now talking about Virginia in the same breath as California, is because of immigration and demographic change (Mr. Gillespie won 57 percent of the white vote, but whites were only 67 percent of all voters). Mr. Bannon recognizes this, as does everyone else. Yet somehow, we are not allowed to speak of it openly.
What we are allowed to speak of is economic nationalism. “Economic nationalism,” Mr. Bannon claimed, “is what binds us together. It doesn’t matter what your race is, or what your ethnicity is or what your color is or what your religion is or what you gender is or what your sexual preference is. You know what he [President Trump] cares about? Whether you’re a citizen of the United States of America. That’s what he cares about.”
At the same time he advanced this civic nationalism, Mr. Bannon mocked accusations of racism, notably referring to Hillary Clinton’s “Deplorables” speech as a disaster for her campaign, and dismissing the media’s claims that he or his website were “white nationalist” or “ethnonationalist.” “If they’re going to go to identity politics,” Mr. Bannon insisted, “they’re going to lose. They’re going to lose badly.” The media’s boogeyman of white nationalism, he suggested, is a “made up problem,” one most Americans aren’t concerned about.
Here, the Breitbart head’s comments reflect what we can call “racial conservatism.” Many conservative movement operatives and grassroots Republicans are no longer spooked by the accusation of “racism” because leftists have overused it to criticize everything.
But this creates two new problems.
First, conservatives are likely to dismiss any expression of white advocacy as some kind of a “false flag,” or attempt by Democrats to make Republicans look bad rather than a sincere attempt to speak the truth. Second, it prevents conservatives from understanding that many of the things they value — the flag, monuments to certain leaders, or cultural norms such as a tradition of free speech — really are dependent on a European-American majority.
This dependence will only increase as America becomes more diverse; that is why Mr. Bannon’s civic nationalism is unsustainable. Since actually making the connection between European-Americans and American nationalism explicit is verboten, the conservative movement is permanently on the defensive, lost in an absurd and undignified quest for “based” non-whites to clap on a red Trump hat and side with an agenda that’s almost exclusively backed by white people.
This effort is made more difficult by the fact that so many non-whites now rely on multicultural hysteria to sustain their very livelihoods, either through government jobs and patronage, non-profit work, or set-asides in the private sector secured through affirmative action. Trump-style “economic nationalism” offers nothing to such a constituency. Being a token minority in the conservative movement is lucrative, but there are only so many spots to go around. Wall Street plutocrats might gain something from “economic nationalism,” but not the black university graduate who relies on the status quo to get a job at a law firm or a government agency.
The attempt to prevent conservatives from becoming racially aware is also doomed to failure. Indeed, the American Left is now defined by and is united only through wild claims about “white privilege” and white racism. It’s unrealistic to expect young conservatives somehow not to notice this. There will always be conservative movement staffers and thinkers who will follow the intellectual path of Sam Francis and recognize the mutual dependence of conservatism and a white majority.
Those who make such a connection explicit will then be ritually sacrificed by the Beltway Right, intellectually stunting the conservative movement and giving the leftist media more reason to claim that “white nationalists” are in the GOP. Mr. Bannon’s own publication has already had to terminate or muzzle those who were becoming too explicit about demographic realities.
Finally, because the conservative movement will not recognize an explicit defense of European-American interests, it has to rely on almost cartoonish appeals to “implicit whiteness” in order to secure white turnout. Thus, we get Roy Moore waving guns at his rallies, paranoid attempts to ban “Sharia Law” in American states, or tough talk about bombing foreign enemies in order to prevent terrorism. Dealing with the realities of crime statistics, preventing the growth of radical Islam by preventing mass Muslim immigration, and securing our own borders and ports would do more to solve these problems and would be harder to subvert.
Mr. Bannon’s approach makes it far too easy for the Republican base to be appeased through purely symbolic gestures while being sold out on substance. It’s worth noting that there has been almost no action on the three main points Mr. Bannon identified as central to the Trump agenda: immigration, trade, and a noninterventionist foreign policy. As Jeff Giesea has observed, Mr. Bannon is a culture warrior centering his message on economics, which is hardly inspiring.
And if we get past the triumphalism about November 2016, we have to admit the GOP isn’t even delivering on a populist economic policy directed at the white working class. The two main initiatives of the Republican Congress thus far — both backed by President Trump — are an attempt to repeal Obamacare and pass a tax cut for the wealthy, neither of which will do anything for working-class whites. Neither of those were part of Mr. Bannon’s three points, either.
It’s unlikely the white working class will turn out at 2016 levels after voting for change and getting business as usual. There hasn’t even been action on “culture war” issues that have mass support and could make a real difference, such as abolishing affirmative action at a national level or making English the official language.
The day after Mr. Bannon’s speech, the Detroit Free Press, published a cartoon featuring a slovenly Bannon and characterizing his message as a “white whine.” Even if Mr. Bannon specifically denounces identity politics, the Left understands the Right better than the Right understands itself. American civic nationalism ultimately depends on white voters. The refusal to speak the truth explicitly about demographic realities doesn’t just doom the GOP to electoral extinction in the long term. It dooms the “Trump Republicans” of Macomb County to being fobbed off by symbolism instead of substance. The white working class took a chance on Trump; if the only change they see after his first term is a tax cut for George Soros, they won’t come out again.
White advocates must insist on the legitimacy of European-Americans pursuing their group interests, just as every other group already pursues theirs. And we should also insist upon recognition for our place in the coalition that delivered victory to Donald Trump. If Mr. Bannon wants November 8, 2016, to be remembered as a “high holy day” instead of a repeat of George W. Bush’s re-election, he should acknowledge this.
This doesn’t mean purity spiraling, or demanding Bretibart come out for white nationalism. It simply means no longer upholding the double standards on race and identity in American politics. It is incoherent to deny the legitimacy of white identity while building an entire political coalition around it.
One suspects Mr. Bannon already knows this. But will he remain silent about it? If he remains silent much longer, those “Trump Republicans” in Michigan will stay home, never to come out again. And once America becomes majority non-white, even being one of Mr. Trump’s darling “citizens of the United States of America” won’t matter much.