Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former lackey and mind behind a site posting quality journalism like this has declared “Civil War” on the Republican Party and the “party establishment” like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Bannon has been taking credit for this guy’s win in the Alabama Senate special primary. The most outrageous part of Bannon’s “Civil War” is that the kind of nationalist, Tea Party, far-right candidates he wants in Congress will make his former boss’ job even harder than it already is. President Trump’s political ideology is, mailable, to say the least. Traditionally, that dealmaker mentality he brings to Washington could be considered a good thing, at least in terms of governing. But the kind of candidates Bannon wants to field don’t believe in compromise. They have no idea how to govern.
A big problem with our political system today is the ideologues on both the far right and far left. They run in primaries that reward the most entrenched “we have to fight” mentality they can find. But when they get to Washington or their Statehouse, they’re either in a minority trying to find consensus to get things done or a majority that is trying to rally around a consensus idea. And, in a place like the United States Senate, which takes 60 votes to pass a resolution saying its ok to tie your shoes, it becomes a lot harder trying to find consensus. You don’t see Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders getting together on a lot of issues, do you?
McConnell, the turtle-like Republican mastermind and Senate Majority Leader, held a joint media availability with the President earlier this week and used the phrase “winners make policy and losers go home.” Parties have to field candidates who can win a general election. But, even McConnell, who would never be described as liberal, knows running to the extremes won’t help him pass legislative priorities. McConnell mentioned 2010 and 2012 tea party candidates Christine O’Donnell, Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, and Sharron Angle as prime examples. These are Steve Bannon’s kind of candidates. And Roy Moore, Bannon’s poster child in Alabama, is at risk of losing to a Democrat in the crimson red (Roll Tide!) state.
When you talk to a primary candidate over the next few months, it’s fine to ask them what they believe in. That’s great. But ask him how they’re actually going to get things done. If we don’t elect people on both sides who can govern, we’re going to wind up with more of Steve Bannon’s guys.
Patrick Pfingsten is an award-winning journalist, political consultant, and PR expert. You can find him on Twitter @pfingsten1 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.