Saturday, August 19, 2017

Stephen Bannon is out: Good Riddance, it's Democracy over Fascist Advisors 5-0

White Nationalist Richard Spencer thanking Trump
after Charlottesville/AP David J. Phillip
Timothy Snyder, the Yale historian, has contended  that "it's pretty much inevitable" that Trump will at some point attempt to stage a coup and try to overthrow democracy.  The ouster of Bannon makes this seem very unrealistic. Trump has oligarchic, anti-demoratic instincts, but it seems like democracy will keep him in check.

Bannon is gone from the White House and back at Breitbart News. "The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over," Bannon ruefully told the Weekly Standard in his first public interview after his ouster.

It turns out that this administration, like any other, is susceptible to democratic pressure.   The decision to remove Bannon was apparently made before the tumultuous events in Charlottesville last weekend.  Charlottesville merely delayed implementation, but it reinforced why it happened.  "Bannon played to my father-in-law's worst instincts," Jared Kushner is reported to have said (Maggie Haberman of the New York Times). General John Kelly, Trump's still new Chief of Staff, was visibly uncomfortable during Trump's outrageous news conference on Tuesday in which he gave his support to the alt-right. Bannon, said Haberman, was the main voice egging the president on.

The reaction to Trump's poorly handled response to Charlottsville has been widespread and negative.  Criticism has come from many prominent Republicans, including Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Arnold Schwartzenegger. It puts the lie to Snyder's pessimistic scenario. Democracy has asserted itself and Bannon is out.

Tone comes from the top, of course. Before Bannon, there was Roger Stone, and Roy Cohn, and Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn. Steven Miller (mentored by white nationalist Richard Spencer at Duke) and Sebastian Gorka (Hungarian neo-Nazi party member) remain in the White House.  There is no very good reason to think that Trump's next go-to advisor won't play to his worst instincts.  Yet, Roger Stone, Roy Cohn, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and Steve Bannon have all been pushed aside through democratic pressure--pressure applied by the public, the press, and the political establishment.

It's democracy five, advisors with fascist tendencies zero. If you're going to institute a  coup and overthrow democracy you need people like Stone,  Cohn, Manafort, Flynn, and Bannon at your side. All signs are that despite Trump's worst instincts, democracy will keep him in check.

In the meantime, Jeff Flake's book "Conscience of a Conservative: a Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle" is a best seller (currently 9th place on NYT best seller list).

Today, we spoke with the owners of a book shop in Hermann Missouri, Jack and Pat Wendleton. They report that half of their neighbors who voted for Trump are expressing regrets.

I'm not ready to write off democracy or free speech yet.

Follow me on Twitter @RolandNikles

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