Bannon Appointment Signals Trump Will Govern As He Campaigned
As pundits spent much of the past week insisting President-elect Donald Trump would “pivot” and unify the country, he made a decision that signaled he will govern in line with the divisive rhetoric on which he campaigned.
In a statement released Sunday, Trump announced the appointment of Steve Bannon, the Breitbart News Network executive chairman known for holding anti-Semitic views and having ties to white nationalists and the alt-right, as Chief Strategist & Senior Counselor to the President.
Bannon’s initial on-boarding as chief executive to the Trump campaign in August was met with criticism from both sides of the aisle. Many reports emerged on Bannon’s controversial record, in which he: was arrested and charged with domestic violence; espoused anti-Muslim extremists in his daily radio show; used anti-gay slurs during an on-air interview in 2011; and, as his ex-wife swore in court, said he did not want his daughters “going to school with Jews,” to name a few.
Trump kept Bannon on the campaign and now he, and the alt-right, will follow Trump to the White House.
Thus far, Trump campaign staffers and allies have dismissed the criticism of Bannon’s appointment.
Republican National Committee Chairman and soon-to-be White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus today on “Fox & Friends” referred to Bannon as “very wise and smart” and “a force for good on this campaign.”
On “Face the Nation,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich suggested Bannon could not be anti-Semitic because he previously worked for Goldman Sachs and in Hollywood. Gingrich also dubbed drawing links from Bannon to the sexist and anti-Semitic headlines on the site he served as executive chairman for, as “baloney.”
Kellyanne Conway, the Trump campaign manager and top adviser, denied Bannon’s connection to the alt-right and referred to him as a “brilliant tactician,” according to the New York Times.
The sentiment among white nationalist leaders, however, strikes a different tone and speaks volumes. In interviews conducted by CNN these multiculturalism-opposing Trump supporters affixed to the concept of a white nation noted their support for Bannon and described him “as an advocate in the White House for policies they favor.”
This is not a normal sentiment. It is not normal for white supremacist groups to throw celebratory rallies after a presidential candidate’s victory. It is highly unusual for white nationalist leaders to have hope their preferred policies will have a platform in the White House.
Throughout the campaign, many described Trump’s rhetoric, which garnered endorsements from these divisive groups, as “campaign speech” or “red meat” for his fans that would not come to fruition if he were elected.
It is no longer an if. It is the now and it is the future.
Trump’s promises need to be taken seriously. He has already made an appointment that granted white nationalism a newly empowered platform. He needs to be taken at his word for all else he said on the campaign trail — pledges that included a religious ban, deportation force, border wall, press restrictions, and a special prosecutor to investigate his opponent.
What Trump will follow through on is unknown. His promises should not be normalized. They need to be treated as very grave possibilities.