I joined David Greene on NPR’s Morning Edition today for 2 segments. The longer segment was a discussion of Stephen Bannon and his appoint as strategist and “equal partner” (according to the press release) with Reince Preibus, the newly minted Chief of Staff. Bannon horrifies many Democrats – and not a few Republicans – because of his previous role at Breitbart.
Their concern is overblown. Bannon is not the deplorable bogeyman described by Trump’s political opponents. He is instead a big picture thinker and an effective political operator focused on promoting and enacting the policies that Donald Trump ran on during the campaign: an immigration policy that prioritizes the interests of American citizens, a pro-worker trade and economic policy, and an interests based foreign policy that is skeptical of foreign military entanglements.
I counsel that those who want to understand the significance of Stephen Bannon to the Trump White House should attempt to understand him as he understands himself. He has said of himself, “I come from a blue collar, Irish Catholic, pro-Kennedy, pro-union, family of Democrats.” It was not so long ago that described the base of the Democratic Party. In this election Trump won the votes of many people with similar sensibilities and similar histories. Ronald Reagan did too and confounded his many critics. Trump and Bannon are doing the same thing.
The earlier segment with David Greene focused on what kind of rhetoric we can expect from President Donald Trump as opposed to what the country heard from Trump the candidate. I argued that we need look no further than the President-Elect’s victory speech the night of the election: gracious in victory, bold in his plans for the country, and yet still more accessible than his predecessors. Witness his opening comment: “Sorry to keep you waiting. Complicated business.” But the short speech was also full of uplifting statements like this: “We will embark upon a project of national growth and renewal. I will harness the creative talents of our people, and we will call upon the best and brightest to leverage their tremendous talent for the benefit of all. It is going to happen.”
At his best, Donald Trump, embodies the virtue Kipling described as the ability to “walk with kings” yet not “lose the common touch.” This will come as a pleasant surprise to those of his detractors that have ears to hear.