Bannon, Trump, and the Fleecing of the Base

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By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use,

One of the most disturbing aspects of the modern era is how a few are trying to enrich themselves. Let me be clear this is a classic of autocracies where the well connected can do what they want. That we still have a somewhat working legal system that is getting in the way is a good sign. The immune system of our political system is still working. If Donald Trump wins a second term that is not going to be the case for too much longer. The barriers in place, as few as still remain, will be gone.

So when the news broke that Steve Bannon was arrested with charges of mail fraud and a few other things, it was not unexpected. Nor was it when he called the arrest a political hit job. It was another episode of how many of the leaders in the far-right see the base of the movement as gullible and unsophisticated boors to take advantage of. In this case, they want to protect the nation from an invasion in a bad imitation of the Camp of the Saints, which Bannon believes in. But the “We Build the Wall” project was a scam.

First, let me say this from the outset until Bannon is convicted in a court of law, all these charges are alleged. It is true that he and the president would prefer a legal system where you have to prove your innocence. For the moment we still live in a system where the state has to prove his guilt. In a true autocracy, He and his people would have no worries. Why? The elite, and he is part of that elite, can do whatever he wants to do. He would effectively be above the law.

The fact that the president’s men keep getting arrested charged (and convicted) of serious violations of law, speaks to the fundamental weakness in the far-right movement. It is in how they see their base. They are simply marked.

Marks are easy to manage and control, They don’t care to admit they were taken for a ride. Humans are very bad about things like this. What Bannon and the company allegedly did with “We Build the Wall” was a scam. They promised to do things that they were not going to do. For starters. they could not donate the money to the federal government. It does not work that way. They rely on a base that is utterly ignorant of basic they claim to love, like the Constitution.

The president treats the base with the same exact contempt. There is even a meme on social media to this effect. It does reflect an abusive relationship with his base. This is why it has an air of it might be true. Let me make this transparent. Trump never said this, but the fact that people are willing to believe this reflects current reality.

“Republicans are the dumbest group of voters in the world. .I’d lie & my poll numbers would be terrific” Donald Trump, People Magazine, 1998

Then there is the other fact. Republicans, most of Trump’s base, are fine with the number of people who have died from COVID. Democrats are not. This is according to USA Today:

More than 176,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19. According to the poll, a 57% majority of registered Republican voters think that number is “acceptable,” compared with 31% of voters overall. Ninety percent of Democrats and 67% of independents said the death toll was “unacceptable.”

Republicans were also more likely to believe the official death toll is inflated — though public health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci have said the actual number of deaths from the virus is likely higher. Forty percent of registered Republicans believe the number of deaths is lower than reported, while 18% said it was probably about right and another 18% said the actual number of deaths was likely higher than reported. Overall, 44% of voters said the number of deaths was actually higher, 36% said it was lower and 20% said the reported number is likely correct.

This also goes into that abusive relationship. Trump in reality does not respect his base. He also does not care if he lies to them, or if they die. This is at the heart of his DNA, to be creative with the truth. However, white supremacy is part of this response to this crisis in my view. His administration was more or less concerned until they found out who tended to die in larger numbers. Ergo, this became a form of passive eugenics.

Trump is also about polls, as a marker of his success. For him, polls are not unlike ratings, and high ratings mean you are doing good. Except for one little detail, so far he has refused to grow them beyond his white base. Why? His base is easily pursuable who has been in a propaganda bubble for decades. Many have gone down the rabbit hole of Q and the militias. Some are part of the Proud Boys and other white identarian groups. Am Aware that the Proud Boys think of themselves not in this way, but they are. And increasingly they are behaving as the SA did in Nazi Germany.

The president will do whatever he needs to excite his base and depress the vote of the other, especially minorities and Democrats. Trump understands the rules of the game and knows that he does not need to win the popular vote to win the presidency. He will try to repeat the same strategy that led to his victory in 2016 where he broke through the blue wall.

Polls right now say that the electoral map has greatly expanded. So that strategy probably will not be successful. This is why the president has been very busy delegitimizing the election and vote by mail. It is not just Trump. People in Trumpworld, such as Jared Kushner, are repeating the same talking points. They are relying on anecdotes because they cannot prove the case in any other way. While anecdote is the least reliable of the method, it is the most convincing for many people.

We live in extraordinary times. Bannon claimed that his arrest was political. Trump is putting in place the environment to reject the result of the election unless it favors him. There is an army of conspiracy influenced people, who are ready to defend Trump no matter what. We could be heading towards a very dangerous moment. We could be heading towards internal terrorism or civil war.

The president will refuse to accept defeat. If he could he would cancel the elections. His followers refuse to recognize that the law applies to them as well. The president’s men are proving to be part of the most corrupt administration in modern times. This includes the Nixon White House, who at this point looks like rank beginners.

While none of this should surprise us. It does not mean we should just blindingly accept this. We need to prepare for the next six months will be the most dangerous since 1859. We are living in perilous times. Of that, there is no doubt.

Written by

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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