Opinion |

Forget Trump, Steve Bannon Is the Real Danger

President-elect Donald Trump declared in the final presidential debate that he wasn’t a puppet. But the signs are that right-wing ideologue Bannon will be pulling the strings in the White House.

Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher
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Steve Bannon pictured backstage after a Trump campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona, October 29, 2016.
MAN IN THE SHADOWS: Steve Bannon backstage after a Trump campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona, October 29, 2016. Credit: Carlo Allegri/Reuters
Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher

While liberal America and advocates of liberalism worldwide focused on the threat to their values from President-elect Donald Trump, it may be that they missed the real danger.

Steve Bannon, who was named as Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor last week, did not attract a great deal of attention during his time as campaign chairman. The media pretty much ignored him. While Trump never stopped tweeting and drawing fire, Bannon did not give interviews or issue statements.

That is the way Bannon works. He is the classic man in the shadows. His main Machiavellian insight from his days at investment bank Goldman Sachs was, “Don’t be the first guy through the door because you’re going to get all the arrows. If it’s junk bonds, let Michael Milken lead the way. Goldman would never lead in any product. Find a business partner.”

This is a typical tactic of a person who likes to concentrate all his power on pulling the strings. Let Trump lead the way, open the door to the White House, draw the fire. Trump is nothing more than a means for Bannon to carry out his obsessive goal: the elimination of the liberal left in America.

Trump does not really have an ideology. He is a demagogue, a populist looking for business deals – and each deal is a compromise. Bannon is an extreme right-wing ideologue. That is why his appointment as chief strategist shocked the political establishment in Washington so much. Who will really be in charge in the White House?

It could be that Trump is the host and Bannon the virus. The vitriol of the Breitbart News Network website – of which Bannon is still executive chairman – was directed mainly at crushing the left, at making an entire value system extinct. The focus on his anti-Semitism or misogyny reveals only part of the picture.

The threat Bannon raises is much broader. He aspires to shatter the Republican Party establishment no less than that of the Democrats. Bannon once called the Occupy Wall Street protestors – most of them unemployed young people who have never harmed anyone – “the greasiest, dirtiest people you will ever see.” Why? Because he sees them as “leftists,” contemporary hippies.

It is possible that he is only exploiting Trump, and that although the Americans elected Trump as president, they may have received Bannon. The man in the shadows, the strategist, the adviser. The man who will really will shape policy.

There are reasonable grounds to assume that Bannon looks down on Trump. As evidence, Bannon argued passionately in the past that President Barack Obama’s response to President Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine was feeble and inadequate, and a U.S. show of strength against Russia has geopolitical importance. Trump, though, has spoken of his admiration for Putin and made it known that he will not raise a finger against Russia if it conquers its neighbors. This did not affect Bannon’s promotion of Trump on Breitbart, and after that running his campaign – because he wants Trump to open the door, and to use that to take control of the right and America.

An article in the August issue of The Atlantic claimed that Trump was not Bannon’s “idea of a good president of the United States. Trump is his guillotine.”

Why is the American and international media only waking up now to the possibility, much more scary than a Trump presidency, that Bannon is the true winner in the U.S. election? That Trump is only the bait, the trap. And that the bloodthirsty Jacobite Bannon was the true danger all along.

How did we miss him? This is the real failure of the media: Not the discounting of Trump, but completely disregarding Bannon.

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