Steve Bannon is a Straw Man

Freak Out About Things That Matter, Not Him

Photo by Anita on Flickr via Creative Commons

Steve Bannon is the executive chairman of Breitbart News and a misogynist, xenophobe, and racist. He has been named Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to incoming President Donald Trump.

Everyone is freaking out.

Petitions to reverse his appointment are circulating.

Let’s all stop and take a breath. Let’s consider a few things.

  • Bannon is not the problem. He’s a symptom. The problem is that we have a President-Elect who would appoint Bannon in the first place. Our future President has misogynistic, xenophobic, and racist tendencies himself. Changing one aide in the Trump White House won’t meaningfully move the needle here. We can’t move that needle for four more years.
  • Trump will not reverse the Bannon appointment. To reverse the appointment would make him look weak and indecisive while alienating the alt-right. Trump is not going to that.
  • Maybe Trump is Throwing the Alt-Right a Bone. Trump could have named Bannon his Chief of Staff, but he didn’t. The CoS has a clearly defined role and virtually the entire West Wing staff reports to them. The CoS is the President’s right hand and generally has the closest office to the Oval. A “Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor” has no clearly defined responsibilities, staff, or office location. It could be a major role with vast influence, It could also be a sop appointment for the alt-right that will have little power. (Theresa May did something similar when she made Boris Johnson Foreign Secretary but gave the Brexit and trade portfolios to other ministers.) We will have to wait and see how influential Bannon really becomes.
  • Elections matter. Presidents can appoint whomever they want to positions that don’t require Senate confirmation. As much as many may dislike Trump and his politics, he has the right to pick his advisers.

If you want to rage against Bannon, sign petitions, and generally raise hell, your call. But, I don’t think it will do any good. And, I think we should keep our outrage powder dry. Outrage is most effective when it’s focused. We should save it for things that really matter.

Steve Bannon doesn’t really matter. We’re worried that this one adviser is misogynistic, xenophobic, and racist. Within months, the Trump administration may implement actual policies and regulations that are misogynistic, xenophobic, and racist. Let’s focus on fighting those.

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