What Happens When The Trump and Bannon Agendas Diverge?
A poll I conducted on Twitter shows a clear split on what people think will happen now that Bannon has left the White House. Bannon’s rhetoric since leaving has only muddied the waters. Bannon told The Weekly Standard: “The Trump Presidency that we fought for, and won, is over. We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.” This was clearly meant to push Trump’s buttons, by suggesting the Bannon presidency is over. Which leads to the question – what happens when the Trump and Bannon agendas diverge?
In that same interview with The Weekly Standard, Bannon also suggested he would go to war for Trump. He told them: “I feel jacked up. Now I’m free. I’ve got my hands back on my weapons. Someone said, ‘it’s Bannon the Barbarian.’ I am definitely going to crush the opposition. There’s no doubt. I built a f***ing machine at Breitbart. And now I’m about to go back, knowing what I know, and we’re about to rev that machine up. And rev it up we will do.”
Trump and Bannon, however, cannot fight the same battles, and their “enemies are not always going to be the same. While they both want to stoke up a race war, Bannon also wants to destroy the government, while Trump needs the establishment to pass his agenda. Bannon told The Weekly Standard that Trump encouraged him to take on the Republican establishment. But what happens when Trump eventually realizes he cannot move his agenda without them? What does Trump do when Bannon is attacking Ryan and McConnell, who are the only path he has to getting legislation passed? What does he do when Bannon is attacking Cohn, McMaster and Kushner? It is hard to see how these two narcissists can co-exist in harmony. Neither takes criticism silently. Both are vindictive. Both share the same instinct to attack their critics, no matter who that critic is.
One thing that Bannon and Trump have in common, is that their “populist” economic agenda is fake news. Cutting taxes and regulations for big business, is not economic populism. Ending consumer protection is not economic populism. Their opposition to a living wage is not economic populism. It is simply cover for xenophobia and white nationalism. Just as the GOP have always used social issues in order to gain the support of working class people, who they have never represented economically, Trump and Bannon replaced those issues with xenophobia and white nationalism.
Both Trump and Bannon will continue to push those agendas. Where the two are most likely to diverge is on foreign policy, free trade and taxes. Trump’s bravado meshes well with hawkish Republican foreign policy, while Bannon actually believes in America First isolationism. On trade, it is unlikely Trump’s will find much support for trade policies aimed at starting a new trade war. Bannon supports tax hikes on the rich, while Trump is more likely to cut them.
Many seem to believe that Bannon will support Trump no matter what. However, that ignores one very significant fact. Bannon has never been a Trumper. He does not believe in Trumpism, he believes in Bannonism. Bannon will only support Trump when he is implementing Bannon’s agenda, and attack him when he doesn’t. The fireworks will come the first time Bannon criticizes Trump. Both are narcissists, both believe they won the presidency, so it will be all out war.