Americans are rejecting an offer of managed American decline from the political class, said veteran pollster Pat Caddell on Wednesday’s edition of Breitbart News Tonight on SiriusXM.
Drawing on Dylan Thomas’s 1947 poem, Caddell waxed poetic during a discussion with SiriusXM host and Breitbart News’ Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon.
“They will not go gently into that good night of decline,” said Caddell. “The American people will rage against the dying of the light, and that is the moment that we are continuing toward.”
The narrative of American decline — commensurate with relative ascendancies from global competitors among the world’s emerging economies – is often frame by progressive elites as both an inevitable and desirable trajectory.
The election of Donald Trump to the presidency, said Bannon, was a function of popular rejection of American decline:
“It’s one of the things I told then-candidate Trump … ‘[Caddell’s] underlying research shows that the country’s heading your way, that it’s two-thirds [of Americans view the country on the] wrong track. More importantly, that America, 70 or 75 percent of the people believe America is in decline.’”
“And in fact,” continued Bannon, “What the establishment wants, and what the opposition to President Trump wanted, was really managed decline; and what President Trump represented with the ‘Make America Great Again’ – and the ‘again’ is the key word, there – was the deplorables, that working class and middle class people of this country were not prepared to accept the central thesis that America was in decline.”
Caddell’s research into American perceptions of national decline, said Bannon, formed the “intellectual basis” for the “Trump movement.”
Electoral support for Trump, said Caddell, was rooted in three popular beliefs: 1. “The system is corrupt;” 2. “The country is decline;” and 3. “Things are rigged against them in the political class.”
“The political class and the mainstream media, who are so dedicated to a narrative of their own excellence, failed because… the stupidity of politics, historically in the world, is because leaders and others are willing to jeopardize their countries if necessary rather than risk their power. They are unable to say, ‘We we wrong.’”
The “political class,” said Caddell, “want to manage the decline of America” to bring about a “soft landing.” Americans are now seeking to reclaim their sovereignty, he added.
“It is time for the people to once again be the sovereigns of their own country, and that is the fundamental basis of America,” said Caddell. “It is what the political establishment and the elites cannot comprehend, that these deplorables are actually their bosses, their superiors … Democracy in the hands of the elites — in false hands, if you will — is paralyzed. Democracy in the hands of the people possesses an irrepressible magic, and that’s the moment that we’re continuing to move on here, as much as they’re trying to kill it, and ignore it, and deny it, and fit it into their parameters, the elites and the media and political class cannot.”
Government parasitism is fueling a populist insurgency against the “political class,” said Caddell. “The enrichment of the political class, by the deals and the things they do is so deeply corrupt… this is the real issue. It’s not just the swamp, it’s worse than that. It is a corruption that is corrupting the very soul of America where everything’s a deal, and everything is hidden, and everything is to benefit the political class.”
The American people’s reclamation of sovereignty is the greatest threat to entrenched establishment elites, said Caddell: “It is the peasants out here who are causing trouble that they most want to suppress, they and their allies in the media.”
Caddell waxed patriotic in expressing his affection for America’s political judgments and the public’s virtue: “In the aggregate, the American people want to do the right thing and they’re very smart. Even when they break my heart, I understand what they’ve done, politically.”
Caddell and Bannon took calls from Breitbart News’ SiriusXM audience, whom Bannon described as “the greatest audience in all media.” Caddell shared his admiration.
“I’m making notes,” said Caddell said of the callers. “These people who call in — this is what I call the intelligence of the American people, the native intelligence. I’m not really a conservative, but I’m a populist, I’m an American exceptionalist… The greatest problem for the establishment is the American people now know they can take power in their hands.”
Bannon and Caddell discussed similar themes in November at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Restoration Weekend in Palm Beach, Florida; watch the discussion here.
Widespread fears of American decline have been on Caddell’s political radar for decades. As he observed in a 1992 Los Angeles Times interview:
For the last 25 years, the politicians in this country have presided over a decline, and it is impossible for them to acknowledge it. Because to change, to turn the country toward what has to be done, they would first have to tell the truth. And to do that would be to risk their own power, because, in a democracy, that means standing up and saying, “We have failed.” And the track record of people who do that is not very good. So the Democratic Party lives a lie, the Washington Establishment lives a lie: “Nothing’s really wrong, don’t worry about the $400-million deficit, just elect us.”
Breitbart News Tonight is broadcast live on SiriusXM Patriot channel 125 from 9:00p.m. to midnight Eastern (6-9:00p.m. Pacific).