Steve Bannon’s path to a pardon included appeals to a range of RWNJ groups including some dangerous proto-fascist cults. “The Fourth Turning” by Strauss & Howe returns to our attention, because of Bannon. But are we shifting to a more liberal era or are we on the brink of a greater series of disasters. This New Republic article shows how much closer we came to a successful coup.

Writing in 1997 in “The Fourth Turning,” Mr. Howe and Mr. Strauss warned that after the 2020 crisis, the party in power at the time “could find itself out of power for a generation” …

… It’s not hard to see why The Fourth Turning’s apocalyptic, quasi-mystical vision would appeal to the likes of Bannon; it offers the perfect rationalization for sociopathic behavior. He’s not breaking stuff for the thrill of it—he’s executing history’s larger plan for all of us, playing his part.

And so it was that Bannon placed himself at the center of the organizing effort that culminated in the storming of the U.S. Capitol building on January 6. From his podcast’s YouTube channel, which claimed 330,000 subscribers before the platform shut it down permanently on January 8, Bannon aired the strategic rhetoric that inspired the insurrection in plain sight—in much the same way that he transformed Breitbart News on his watch into the unofficial campaign arm of Trump’s 2016 presidential run. However, the podcast is still distributed on Apple Podcasts, where it ranked #60 in the United States on February 1, according to the analytics service Chartable; in mid-January, Bannon claimed the podcast had 29 million total downloads, according to ProPublica. In November, his podcast’s Twitter account was permanently suspended after he called for the beheading of FBI Director Christopher Wray and infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, and the mounting of their “heads on pikes” on White House grounds.

To plumb the mystery of Bannon’s outsize influence, it’s important to keep in mind the recent history of the right-wing takeover of the GOP. Liberals have long made the error of viewing the Republican Party as a stable entity, when in truth it has been anything but for the last 60 years. Its history since 1964 has been one of fight after fight waged by right-wing organizers to seize the levers of power, fights that couldn’t help but prompt fissures in the party. That’s the year that Phyllis Schlafly published her campaign tractA Choice Not an Echo, in favor of the presidential candidacy of Barry Goldwater, who went on to win the party’s nomination, much to the horror of the country-club establishment. Riding on the wings of the Red Scare and the backlash to the civil rights movement, Goldwater lost the election in a landslide to President Lyndon B. Johnson, but his candidacy granted the right a foothold in the party.

The later history of the right’s ever more belligerent and confrontational rise to power within the GOP is by now well known—from Richard Nixon’s “law and order” pitch to white grievances in the South and urban North to Ronald Reagan’s embrace of the evangelical New Right to Pat Buchanan’s insurgent runs for the presidency in the 1990s.…


  • March 15, 2021