I should open by stating that what follows is opinion, nothing more, nothing less. The true nature of “Phase 2” remains to be seen, but based on what has come before and the political influences both men draw from, this is where I think we’re headed.
Full disclosure: I lean right…
A few days ago Steve Bannon gave an interview and the establishment is freaking out. The fact that anyone is surprised by what he had to say blows my mind, this was always going to be a multi-stage process. We’re talking fundamental martial principles, taking each battle in turn rather than trying to win the war in one big push. We won the battle for the presidency, now it’s time to take back your government.
Trump talked endlessly on the campaign trail about term limits. Which of course we all knew was never going to happen. To quote Bannon:
“The swamp is not going to drain itself”.
The nature of government is that it ultimately comes down to men who will vote their own interests first and the good of the country second. So how do you beat this? By finding men whose interests ARE the good of the country.
Term limits become an issue because of partisan voter blocs and lack of competition, but the ultimate term limit is a viable primary challenge. Give people someone who can reconcile their party loyalty with their own wants and needs. We need to end this sense of entitlement and torch passing from regional politics, just as we did with the political dynasties vying for the presidency. We need to convey to politicians that their jobs are not safe, that they will be held accountable come the next election cycle.
We saw the foundations of this being laid by Trump on the campaign trail with his initial refusal to give his endorsement to the likes of McCain and Ryan. If Trump decided to go along with this, at the time, it would have been political suicide. With battle lines drawn between the Republicans and Democrats starting a civil war in the republican party would have been foolish. It would’ve played right into the hands of the #NeverTrump movement.
It’s almost always the right strategy to pick a single target and make sure you align everyone against it until it’s gone.
By attacking every side at the same time the target becomes you.
Trump understood that focus is key in the initial battles and that consolidation comes later. The Tea Party also understood this simple fact, that government must be taken back one branch at a time, they just approached it in a different order. Taking back the house allowed them to obstruct, but ultimately presidential veto (combined with a failure to gut Republican leadership) meant they couldn’t really change anything either. This is where the Bannon/Trump plan (as I perceive it) really begins to take shape. As I see it, it falls into three parts:
1. Throwing DACA back to congress for 6 months to hammer out legislation: This gives voters a clear insight into which direction their representatives are leaning in the run up to a potential primary challenge. We know from polling that among Trump supporters the single biggest issue was immigration. Anyone who votes in favour of blanket amnesty paints a target on their back. Alternatively, this may force their hand into working together in order to save their own skins, by giving voters what they want. In case of emergency Trump has final power of veto. Either way we win as it makes the issue one of protecting their own jobs rather than resisting Trump.
2. The debt ceiling deal: Republicans wanted it pushed past the midterms to take that potential power out of the hands of democrats. However, it misses the big picture almost entirely. The Democrats have spent the last year obstructing, throwing tantrums, and generally refusing to accept defeat. The American public is growing tired of this, a Democrat obstruction-induced government shutdown would be likely to tip many centrists over to the right.
3. Steve Bannon’s return to Breitbart: Driving the primaries is the key to the whole plan. Republicans have a supermajority but still can’t get anything done due to key representatives (the old guard party leadership) blocking the way. This is proof at least that more Republicans in office does not guarantee real change. We must think less in terms of party, focusing instead on individual candidates. Bannon knows exactly where the blockages are and who needs to be ousted. Expect targeted campaigns against each of these individuals. If nothing else, flipping a large enough number of primaries will send a very clear message to any holdouts. Betraying the people who voted you into office will finally come with a cost attached
Make no mistake, this battle was never going to be easy. In the coming months expect ALL sides to play far dirtier politics than what we saw in the election. But that’s kind of the point. Bannon realizes what any great salesman understands, allowing your competition to expose the flaws in their own offering does far more damage than direct insults. Prepping your buyer to ask the right questions allows your opponent to defeat himself. Subtle nudges move political mountains.
In closing, always remember one thing… your government works for you, not the other way around. It may seem an insurmountable task, but we can force them to change. We can hold them to account, not by burning down cities but by creating a more engaged electorate. You were always a part of the Trump plan. Grassroots movements are the Neocons & Neolibs worst nightmare. So have faith, read up on your local representatives, and get ready for WAR.
Pave Darker is a political activist and contributor to New Media Central. You can follow him on Twitter @darkpaver