The New Yorker: ‘How Steve Bannon Conquered CPAC and the Republican Party’

The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza writes that the populist nationalist worldview of Donald Trump’s White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has finally “conquered” the American Conservative Union’s annual CPAC conference.

As Lizza notes, the issues that animate Bannon’s worldview and propelled Trump to victory were left off the CPAC agenda in the 2013 conference following Mitt Romney’s failed presidential campaign. That year, Bannon, then the executive chairman of Breitbart News, organized an “Uninvited” panel of speakers to discuss such pressing topics as illegal immigration, crony capitalism, and radical Islam.

From The New Yorker:

The Bannon-Priebus appearance was a reminder of how quickly Bannon’s view of conservatism came to defeat Priebus’s. Back in March, 2013, Bannon was something of an outcast at CPAC. In the wake of Mitt Romney’s loss in the 2012 Presidential election, conservatives were trying to emphasize their movement’s diversity and tolerance. The prevailing takeaway from the election was that the right had grown too old, too white, and too intolerant—and so CPAC, which often serves as an incubator for ideas emerging on the far right, needed to downplay the fringes of the movement.

Bannon, who was the head of Breitbart News, roamed the halls as a disgruntled and dishevelled fringe player. Before the conference, he had scanned the schedule and complained that CPAC’s organizers had cast out the voices representing what he viewed as the real issues on the right: the threat from Islam, illegal immigration, and corporate America’s influence on politics.

He organized an evening of counterprograming to highlight those issues, which he called the Uninvited. Even at the most conservative gathering in America, Bannon liked to play the role of aggrieved outsider.

On the CPAC sidelines, Bannon described his alternative lineup to an interviewer: “A former Attorney General from the Bush Administration talking about jihad and the élites’ inability to recognize it. Peter Schweitzer talking about crony capitalism. Pam Geller, Robert Spencer, Frank Gaffney, Nina Shea talking about the global persecution of Christians. These are huge topics. Illegal immigration. These are huge issues. They have to be vetted.”

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