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OPINION | Trump will regret dumping Steve Bannon


The forced resignation of White House Chief Strategist Steven Bannon is less of a surprise than it is a disappointment. The keystone to President Trump’s momentous 2016 election victory fell prey to the worst habits of Washington’s nature. In short, Bannon fought the swamp and the swamp won.

The administration started with a bang, bringing in many new voices to the national conversation. Now, several high-profile axings later, President Trump is moving closer to the D.C. elite than many are comfortable with.

The exact reasons why Bannon is out are still unclear but the rumblings were all there. New Chief of Staff John Kelly promised more discipline for the Oval Office. However, he should be careful not to substitute rigidity in place of stability. Every successful organization needs a balance of ideas — creating a haven for Establishment Republicans is not taking in the strengths of both sides.

President Trump is ceding dangerous ground to the media and establishment here. There is no compromise with the Never-Trumpers and Democrats over the role of chief strategist. Personnel is policy, and Trump is ceding his ace for a player to be named later. That’s not good enough for the people who made his movement happen.

{mosads}What worked so well for Trump, both on the campaign trail and in the White House, was a balance between the two wings of modern conservatism — Reince Priebus had strong ties to the old guard of the GOP while Bannon generated populist solutions at a rapacious pace. Bannon, whether in West Wing or not, is the barometer of the working class of this country. Considering the wavering from other segments of the population, the president cannot afford to mortgage his political future due to pressure from a press corps he can never impress or win over.

I wrote earlier this week that Bannon was the indispensable member of Trump’s team. Unfortunately, the next several weeks and months will bear that out.  

Of the original team of economic nationalists, only Stephen Miller remains in a frontline position. Certainly, pushing out the stabilizing force of Bannon will make others in his mold think twice about joining the administration.

What about the president’s most ardent supporters? The person who donned a red hat and drove 100 miles to a rally in rural Iowa is going to feel that a piece of their political soul is missing. Thousands of lawn signs, phone calls, and homemade banners for Trump were made by people who desired and expected a new type of politics, one of loyalty to not only country but the people surrounding the president. To them, President Trump was the Great Insulator against political heat.

Where does the president go from here? He’s already launched a fundraising committee for 2020, but will he have the components needed to reach out to the human wave that brought him into office? Without Bannon this will become a major problem. Bannon’s contributions include sharpening and elucidating the America First policy on trade, against foreign intervention, tax rates, immigration, and the general direction of the country’s future.

“Amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics,” warns an old military saying. All of the broad outlines of an economically sovereign United States are worth only the paper they’re printed on without the right person to weigh alternatives, prioritization, and means to an end. Trump should have let Bannon be Bannon, instead of creating a no-win situation for him. Don’t be surprised if the former chief strategist comes back with an axe to grind, as it seems like he might be already.

Compromise is a great thing in terms of policy. Even Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill made deals. Nixon went to China. However, ideological convictions should be solid. The greatest compromisers held their own positions and conceded only what was necessary to get what they needed.

Giving away Steve Bannon is a terrible mistake. Perhaps even worse, it is an awful precedent. In all of Trump’s writings and speeches, he goes out of his way to highlight loyalty as his most important virtue and expectation. Bannon was loyal to the end of his tenure in D.C. What else could Trump ask for? An ally already quoted Bannon as saying that he would force Trump to let him go publicly if the administration didn’t “follow the direction we were elected for.”

Andrew Breitbart used to write about being prepared for an ideological war. Not a debate, not a stern talking to, but a war. Steve Bannon was the one person in the White House who both understood that principle and had the tools to win.

Bannon doesn’t lose that set of unique skills just because he’s no longer chief strategist. He may become an unwelcome critic of the president, in service of what both Trump and Bannon thought were once shared ideals.

Kristin Tate is a conservative columnist and author of the book “Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You For a Ride And What You Can Do About It.” She was recently named one of NewsMax’s “30 Most Influential Republicans Under 30.”

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.


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