Bannon’s 25 People Audience – But It Was Never About Bannon, Nor Even Trump

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Steve Bannon has, according to reports, just turned up to give a speech and found an entire 25 people waiting for him. This doesn’t bode well for the popularity of Bannon and his ideas, obviously enough. Either that or there was free pizza the other side of town. But what’s the lesson to take from this? The one that all too few people are taking. That the great national upchuck was in fact a great national upchuck rather than an endorsement of anything positive. From Bannon, Trump, or in the UK about Brexit, or in Brazil about Bolsonaro. Yes, obviously, it’s possible to place too much weight on this and I might well be doing so right now. But it really is true that a lot of modern politics is now against rather than in favour of any coherent plan. Those trying to impose logical coherence are backfilling, not leading.

Steve Bannon, a conservative personality and a former White House chief strategist, appeared at an unpublicized rally that attracted around 25 people, including the event’s organizers and documentary filmmakers, in Topeka, Kansas, according to The Topeka Capital-Journal.

That’s not exactly a huge crowd for the man who is supposed to be the eminence grise, the intellectual inspiration for, Trumpism and all things nativist and rightwards in American politics. My own view is not coloured by the manner in which my working for Breitbart was discussed but never happened – like all journalists I am entirely capable of rising above personal matters to discuss, point to, the essential element of the story under discussion. Ahem. That view being that Bannon, like so may others in this wider story, is really a follower, not a cause nor creator.

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon urged Republican loyalists Tuesday to match liberal enthusiasm in the final week before a midterm election in which a congressional race in Kansas could determine control of the U.S. House.

At an unpublicized micro-rally in North Topeka, Bannon told a small gathering that a New York Times poll showing Democrat Paul Davis with a four-point lead over Republican Steve Watkins was the catalyst for his spur-of-the-moment decision to fly to Kansas.

It’s really, really, not a big crowd for someone with that background, is it?

A rally with Steve Bannon in Kansas reportedly attracted around 25 people.

Mr Bannon, a former adviser to Donald Trump, appeared at the rally in a Holiday Inn in North Topeka.

His speech attracted around 25 people, including the event’s organisers and a group following Mr Bannon for a documentary, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

We’d probably put the actual audience at perhaps 10 people, maybe a dozen. You know how big film crews are, even these days.

So, what’s going on here? That rather depends upon how you analyse the larger political picture at present. We can – and probably should – place a number of events into the same basket. The election of Trump for example, that rise of Breitbart, then Brexit over here, perhaps Orban in Hungary, Five Star in Italy, Bolsonaro in Brazil. All have caused desperate pearl clutching among the Great and Good of the current establishment. And that, to me, is the point. The other way of looking at this is that we’ve separate events, each driven by different people, who are all plotting to overthrow all that’s good about liberal democracy.

Well, OK, take your position as you wish. But I run with Occam’s shaving kit here, the simplest explanation that explains the observed facts wins. And that is that we’ve got large pluralities, in places actual majorities, that simply don’t like the current establishment view of what makes a good world. Sure, we could talk about this obsession with race, or diversity, of the shrieking about misogyny, everywhere. Or perhaps that the current deal simply doesn’t seem to like plain good hard working – and white – folk. Missing that there’s rather a large number of those plain good hard working folk out there. The dissonance between what plays in Peoria and what does in DC is rather larger at present than most of us can recall it, what the national Labour Party and what the core Labour vote worry about does seem to differ, Paris’ ruling passions seem not to cut le moutarde out in La France Profonde as Le Pen’s support shows and so on. The governors are a long way away from the governed these days.

I subscribe to that view, that we’ve been seeing a series of grand national upchucks. Not so much in favour of something, least of all a coherent plan, more against something, that current ruling order and their obsessions. Which is how I would explain there being so little audience interest in one of the supposed architects of the American strain of this. It’s not something that has been architected, it’s not a construct, it’s a gut feel among tens to hundreds of millions of people. Those who can appeal to it can ride the wave, certainly, but they’re not directing it nor causing it any more than the surfer decides where the wave breaks rather than just avoiding wiping out upon it.

I even subscribe to one flavour of this myself. Sure, I worked for Ukip, stood as a candidate, support Brexit absolutely. And yet the background reason was simply no, Brussels doesn’t do it. Sure, there are things I think we should do now we’re leaving but it was always no, leave this foolish system as the driving force. So too with much of the above. The current cultural setup – at least as far as it is publicly talked about and assumed – doesn’t suit some large portion of the population. So, they’re rebelling against it, those riding that wave are passengers, not makers of it. Bannon’s interesting but not the cause, he’s a symptom.

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Rhoda Klapp
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Rhoda Klapp

No is as valid as yes. I am not a political expert, but I know what I dislike. What’s interesting to me is the apparent inability of the establishment to see what’s going on and get in front of it*. Why do they cling to the rotten EU, what’s so good about it? They never said, and I asked many times. I can only conclude that personal interests set the mind and intellect tried to make the case and failed, leaving only project fear. See the Osborne story on Guido today for an illustration of the complete detachment of the… Read more »

Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

In the post-war era there’s 2 establishments: the Church establishment and the TV establishment. As TV ownership took off, TV ceased to just be a place of straight factual reporting and entertainment and the church went into decline. That started around the early 70s and grew in the late 70s. And all these people grew up with that world, fitted into that world. This is normal. This is how it’s always been, this is how it always will be. What’s going on with Trump/Brexit etc is just madness and normal service will be restored soon. That’s what they’re thinking. Look… Read more »

Esteban DeGolf
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Esteban DeGolf

The disconnect between the elites vs. the unwashed is definitely a major factor in U.S. politics. For example, a journalist who followed the Hildebeest campaign for a year to write a book about her shattering the ultimate glass ceiling noted after the election that, in hindsight, there were a few signs that she missed that perhaps this campaign wasn’t focused very well. One example being that days before the election the campaign sent two Hollywood actors to a town in Ohio (Rust Belt Central, full of people very nervous about their jobs and the survival of their communities) to lecture… Read more »

Hector Drummond
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Hector Drummond

This is mostly right. For example, the US election was not really about Trump, it was about sticking two fingers up to the Establishment. Trump was the best person to do that, but if he goes soft then his support will disappear. Same with Bannon, he articulates (or used to) popular discontent, but it’s about the discontent, not him. (Bannon is not some wildly popular figure, though, he’s mainly a backroom guy, so I don’t know why its expected that he would draw big crowds. And what kind of a crowd would you expect at an unpublicized rally? I should… Read more »

Rhoda Klapp
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Rhoda Klapp

Those who wonder about Trump should perhaps remember that he was not just running against the establishment, but against an unpleasant unelectable crook. If the dems had put up a decent candidate they would probably have won and the swamp could carry on. And yet are they anywhere near putting up anyone reasonable next time?