Stephen Bannon — Democrats' unlikely new friend

The Democratic Party has an unlikely new friend. His name is Stephen Bannon.

You remember Bannon, don't you? He was the man who is widely credited with being the political Svengali that masterminded the upset victory of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems win from coast to coast Falwell after Gillespie loss: 'DC should annex' Northern Virginia Dems see gains in Virginia's House of Delegates MORE.

Bannon told Trump to forget the ways of John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore GOP strategist: 'There needs to be a repudiation' of Roy Moore by Republicans World leaders reach agreement on trade deal without United States: report MORE and Mitt Romney and go after those Republicans and independents who have been sitting out those general elections and incite them with real red-meat, nativist, "America first" rhetoric.

ADVERTISEMENT
Included in the package would be not-too-subtle appeals to bring back the 1950s, when the idea of diversity and inclusion was not championed or, for that matter, even mentioned.

 

Trump took Bannon's advice and ran a campaign that would make George Wallace proud.

Once in the presidency, Trump has done nothing to unify the country. People or groups that oppose him, he shuns; those more to his liking, he goes after with venal, vicious and vindictive remarks. Trump is more than pleased to have his rock-solid 40 percent cult following.

The 60 percent majority that despises or is totally embarrassed by him he can just do without.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTax Foundation: Senate reform bill would cost 6B GOP senators raise concerns over tax plan Dem House candidate apologizes for saying it 'shouldn't take brain cancer' for McCain to show courage MORE (R-Tenn.), a very traditional, establishment Republican, has had enough of this president. He speaks for many in his party who have remained silent.

He first said that Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonWhite House: Trump will not meet formally with Putin Trump meeting with Putin expected to take place Friday: report Flake: 'Conspiracy theorist' Flynn never belonged as national security adviser MORE, Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisAfter Texas shooting, lawmakers question whether military has systemic reporting problem In Africa, defense without diplomacy and development is a losing strategy McCain pledges 'rigorous oversight' after Air Force failure to report Texas gunman's conviction MORE and White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE "are those people that help separate our country from chaos."

Recently he raised the ante via Twitter.

And if that was not enough, Corker warned the country and the world that Trump's words and behavior are putting the United States "on the path to World War III."

All this brings us back to Bannon.

After Trump was actually elected, Bannon took up a perch in the White House itself. You might have noticed him prominently sitting in the front row while Trump was behind the podium. 

But it wasn't too long before he fell out of favor. He didn't get along with Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and had a particular disdain for chief economics adviser Gary Cohn.

Bannon was asked to leave. 

But instead of being bitter or vengeful toward Trump, he has anointed himself as Trump's defender in chief and protector of his base. Bannon wants to cleanse the Republican Party of elected officials he believes are not of his ilk.

They include Republican senators such as Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGOP rushes to cut ties to Moore Flake on Moore defenders: 'This cannot be who we are' GOP senators raise concerns over tax plan MORE of Arizona, Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerArmed Services chairman: Pentagon didn't heed warnings before fatal collisions Navy report: Deadly ship collisions preventable, stemmed from 'multiple failures' Bannon's charge against GOP can undercut Trump himself MORE of Mississippi and Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerBipartisan group of lawmakers aim to reform US sugar program Dem donor on MSNBC: 'Hopefully we'll get our sh-- together' The Hill interview — DNC chief: I came here to win elections MORE of Nevada. These three are up for reelection next year.

---

MORE STORIES FROM THE HILL

---

Bannon is actually recruiting candidates to run against these three Republican incumbents. 

There are two Democratic incumbents who are up in 2018 and are considered highly vulnerable: Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDems mull big changes after Brazile bombshell A bipartisan bridge opens between the House and Senate Collins, Manchin to serve as No Labels co-chairs MORE of West Virginia and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyNo room for amnesty in our government spending bill Senate confirms Larsen to federal appeals court Senate confirms controversial Trump nominee to appeals court MORE of Indiana.

Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampNorth Dakota rep: Trump wants me to run for Senate No room for amnesty in our government spending bill Trump bank nominee gets rough reception at confirmation hearing MORE of North Dakota falls into the same category.

Trump won West Virginia by a whopping 36 points and Indiana by a huge 18 points. Bannon wants to field not "establishment Republicans" but Republicans who fit his ideological mode. Moderate, nonpolarizing electable types need not apply.

Very likely, if Bannon has his way, the Republican incumbents could be defeated in a "Bloody Bannon" primary (Arizona, Mississippi and Nevada). That could produce a contested general where Democrats would have a decent chance to pick up three seats.

Couple that with the Dems holding West Virginia and Indiana. Keep in mind both Independents caucus with the Democrats. 

Who knows, a political "Hail Mary" might arise soon, in which Roy Moore goes down to Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama this December. 

There is a scenario by which the machinations of the "Bannon purge" would not result in adding GOP seats, but the absolute opposite would occur.

Democrats pick up a minimum of three seats, possibly four. The Republican Senate becomes a Democratic Senate.

Bannon would be happy, at least: Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell expects Paul to return to Senate next week Former Hill staff calls for mandatory harassment training Gaming the odds of any GOP tax bill getting signed into law MORE (R-Ky.) would no longer be majority leader.

Then, at the first Wednesday lunch of 2018, the new Democratic majority, before diving into its salads, would be instructed to write warm thank-you notes to its benefactor: Stephen Bannon.

Mark Plotkin is a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner. He previously worked as the political analyst for WAMU-FM, Washington’s NPR affiliate, and for WTOP-FM, Washington’s all-news radio station. He is a winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in writing.