Stephen K. Bannon (or, for those who want to maximize their SEO, Steve Bannon) — president-elect Donald Trump’s pick for White House chief strategist — expressed his political philosophy long before joining Trump’s insurgent populist presidential campaign. Now, Americans can reflect on what issues Bannon may take on within a Trump White House — and it does not look good for the culture of corruption in Washington, DC.
In 2011, Bannon spoke at an event for “The Liberty Restoration Foundation” in Orlando, Florida, talking to attendees about his recent film The Undefeated and the Tea Party movement.
In the roughly twenty-four minute speech, Bannon bucks several conservative orthodoxies of the day. For one, he says that Barack Obama is not the problem; he is a symptom of the problems in America’s leadership. Similarly, he warns not to dismiss “the Occupy Wall Street kids” but to listen to them — for, if the conservative grassroots does not take a stand, the twisted view of college-indoctrinated activists becomes the nation’s future.
Ironically, he predicts that anyone who may actually make the hard decisions to clean up DC’s financial and ethical messes will be “vilified” and “called every name in the book.” Immediately after Trump announced Bannon’s White House appointment, establishment media falsely labeled him an anti-Semite and white supremacist.
The system lacks the political courage to actually take it on [the looming federal debt crisis, included trillions in unfunded liabilities]. The hardest, nastiest days — if you look at Europe, just look what’s happening. Look what happened in the House of Commons yesterday when some conservatives stood up and said, “We’ve had it with Europe. We want out. We want out of this whole mess.” And they turned on each other. I said this on Hannity back in February 2010, when he had me — they had a special for Generation Zero, the first time outside The Passion of the Christ they’d ever taken an hour for one movie.
And I said all the easy choices are in back of us. All the easy decisions were years ago. Everything from here on in is gonna be hard and nasty and ugly and you’re gonna be called every name in the book. You’re gonna be vilified. [emphasis added]
A key portion of the speech lays out Bannon’s populist indictment of Washington, DC’s “crony capitalism and permanent political class” and a profile of the “anger” that drives the Tea Party movement:
These are the people that are, as Rick Santelli so brilliantly observed: They’re those who carry the water, not those who drink the water. They’re the ones that hold our social organizations together, build our cities, run our little leagues, fight our wars, right? It’s the backbone of this country. And they’re enraged, and here’s why they’re enraged. They understand we have a system now that has socialism — as you pointed out so eloquently — we have socialism for the very poor, right — a system that, a trillion dollars a year in welfare state benefits with no taxes, right? And sixty percent of the country getting that. And we have socialism for the very wealthy, right?
The anger of the Tea Party is not racism, they’re not homophobes, they’re not nativist; what they are is common-sense, practical middle-class people that understand that they’re paying for their own and their children’s destruction. Right? And that’s the rage.
You know, the bonus pool this year, the bonus pool on Wall Street — of all the financial firms, in 2007, the year before — in 2006 and 2007, the two years where all the transactions that imploded in 2008, the bonus pool is gonna be about the same this year. Right? You know, TARP — if our business, if your business or your business had gotten in trouble and Goldman Sachs, where I was trained, had come in and given you a financing? Trust me, you would have been wiped out and you would have been fired. Right? They weren’t. All their stock is still worth a ton of money because they weren’t. We basically gave them free money and bailed them out.
There’s no recession in the Hamptons. There’s no recession in Georgetown. The other day, the Washington Post reports, five of the seven wealthiest counties in the country are the suburbs of Washington, DC. The per capita income in Washington, DC, for the first time in history, is greater than Silicon Valley. That is not a random event.
What Sarah Palin — the reason I wanted to make the movie — Sarah Palin went up against the political class in Alaska and Big Oil. Because it wasn’t that it was corrupt — there’s always gonna be corruption, there’s always gonna be bad guys taking money. That’s human nature. Read Plutarch; that happened back in Greece and Rome. We have something much worse: a compromised political class. Crony capitalism and a permanent political class, right?
It’s quite simple: how does a guy go to Washington, basically making a hundred thousand dollars a year as a lawyer in some locality, and at the end of ten years, on $165,000 and another 15,000 by federal money he can make, having to keep basically, sometimes, two locations — how is his net worth five million dollars? And in ten years, like Harry Reid, how is Harry Reid’s net worth fifteen million dollars? That’s not even mathematics, that’s just arithmetic. How does that work? That’s what the Tea Party, that’s what this revolt is about.
On Sunday, president-elect Trump announced that Bannon would serve as White House Chief Strategist alongside RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who will become White House Chief of Staff. Since then, establishment media and top Democrats — including Harry Reid, who Bannon name dropped as a curiously wealthy example of DC corruption — have slung mud at Bannon, stoking fear of racism.
On Thursday, two wildly different voices defied the hysteria from the progressive left and establishment journalists: Israeli ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer and comedian Jon Stewart. Dermer released a statement saying: “we [in the Israeli government] look forward to working with the Trump administration, with all of the members of the Trump administration, including Steve Bannon, and making the US-Israel alliance stronger than ever.”
Stewart relayed in an interview that he has told his co-workers freaking out about Bannon that they don’t “know our history” and that America has survived and even lionized liberal presidents such as Lyndon Johnson, who espoused racist sentiments.