NYT: What if Steve Bannon Is Right?

New York Times columnist Timothy Egan asks if President Trump’s former chief strategist and Breitbart’s current Executive Chairman Steve Bannon is right in believing that economic nationalism will defeat the Democrats’ identity politics at the ballot box. Egan writes that Democrats must “grab the economic nationalism argument from Bannon.”

Egan opens by quoting Bannon’s words from an interview with American Prospect: “The longer [the Democrats] talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”

From Egan’s New York Times column:

[Bannon] may be right. More than anything else, the white voters who drifted from President Barack Obama in 2012 to Trump last year — a seemingly incongruent transition — sealed the Republican victory.

It turns out that racial resentment was the strongest predictor of whether a voter would flip from supporting a thoughtful, intelligent Democrat to a boorish, mentally unstable Republican. When you say Black Lives Matter, these white voters hear Kill a Cop. When you say diversity in the workplace, they hear special privileges for minorities at the expense of whites.

But there are many more voters in Trump’s camp who still consider themselves Democrats. Some live in the much-discussed zone of despair, places where opportunities for people without a college degree are few, and the opioid epidemic rages. These folks are persuadable, if the message is economic hope — something that Obama understood, and Hillary Clinton never did.

Democrats could grab the economic nationalism argument from Bannon, refine it along Bernie Sanders lines, and run with it. Health care for all is pro-American. Raising wages across the country is pro-worker. A moonshot infrastructure program would lift every community. And then, Trump will do his part, ranting in the gutter where he feels most at home.

Read the rest here.


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