In an interview on Monday, Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon told biographer Keith Koffler, whose book Bannon: Always the Rebel hit shelves this week, about his upbringing in a family of “Kennedy Democrats.”
Though widely known as a conservative populist and economic nationalist, Bannon didn’t grow up a dyed-in-the-wool Republican. The eventual Trump campaign CEO and White House chief strategist began life in a union Democrat family in a working-class neighborhood of an historically Democratic Southern state.
“My older brother said, ‘You don’t know what being a Democrat means until you’ve walked the neighborhood for Adlai Stevenson the second time,” Bannon joked with Koffler, referencing the Illinois Governor’s two woefully unsuccessful but honorably contested presidential campaigns against World War Two hero Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956.
“It was a very Democratic blue-collar family,” Bannon related, getting more serious.
“I don’t know how liberal it was. I think one of the big decisions my parents made [was] in like ’66-’67,” Bannon continued, explaining his parents’ choice to remain in their working-class neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia, during the advent of desegregation when most of the other white families moved to the suburbs, and the area became predominately black.
Ultimately it was the Vietnam War that, according to Bannon, began his family’s turn to the right. “I just remember how viciously the Vietnam War broke apart the parish,” he said of his tight-knit Catholic community that had both “peaceniks” and generally pro-war military families.
“When I was a kid, Nixon was a curse word in the Bannon household,” he said of his parent’s disdain for John F. Kennedy’s 1960 opponent. But by 1972, the Vietnam War drove the whole family to choose Richard Nixon over South Dakota’s arch-liberal peacenik George McGovern, Bannon explained. He added that his parents may have even voted for Nixon over Democrat Hubert Humphrey in 1968.