American Rasputin

But Bannon is more than just a broadcaster. He’s a televangelist, an Iago, a canny political operative with activist machinations. With almost every episode, he hopes to transform his audience into an army of the righteous—one that will undo the “illegitimate Biden regime” and replace the current GOP infrastructure, still riddled with institutionalist RINO pushovers, with adamantine Trumpists who believe that 2020 rightfully belonged to them. “The show’s not about entertainment,” he told his audience in one of his typical pep talks. “That’s not us. This is for the hard-cores, okay? … The people who say, ‘No no no no no, not on our watch.’ ” He goads his followers into action with a combination of praise, flattery, and drill-sergeant phrases he repeats like a catechism: Put your shoulder to the wheel! Be a force multiplier! And especially: Use your agency!

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This is the Democratic Party’s nightmare scenario, the hobgoblin that visits at 4 a.m.

And how, specifically, does Bannon propose that his audience use its agency? By taking back their government from the ground up—as election inspectors, as school-board members, and, most practically of all, as precinct-committee members. Bannon may be the country’s biggest exponent of the “precinct strategy,” first developed by the Republican lawyer Dan Schultz, which encourages interested citizens to sign up for the grunt work of elections, because it can lead to the big stuff, like helping decide who oversees them. War Room regularly features citizen activists who have figured out how to work the system. After each segment, Bannon asks: “How can people get to you? How do they find out more about what you’re doing?” And they provide Twitter and Gettr handles, websites, on occasion even a cellphone number.

Why do you do that? I once asked him.

“It’s a force multiplier,” he answered.

Right right right.

This is the Democratic Party’s nightmare scenario, the hobgoblin that visits at 4 a.m.: The infrastructure of civil servants on the state level, which barely held the United States together in the aftermath of the 2020 election, comes entirely undone through democratic means. As it is, the Republicans are poised in the 2022 midterms to take back the House in a potential rout, a prospect that fills Bannon with inexpressible glee, and for which he seems to take partial credit. He’s hoping for a 60-, 70-, 80-seat loss for the Democrats—something that will set the party back for generations.

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