Bannon is wrong to think the problem with today’s GOP senators is that they’ve been unwilling to climb aboard the Trump train. Rather, it’s that there’s no train to climb aboard. If the president had a well-defined, reasonably popular agenda, it’s possible a handful of Republican senators would keep defying him out of principle. But, really—does anyone believe that Republican senators are an especially principled bunch? If Trump’s job approval ratings were in the high 40s rather than the high 30s right now, that would mean he’d successfully incorporated a new group of voters into the GOP. Republican incumbents would have little choice but to defer to him.
Bannon does, however, have an achievement he can build on. Trump managed to win the votes of millions of working-class voters who were otherwise skeptical of the GOP. If the Republican Party could somehow retain these voters, the changing Republican base would compel GOP politicians to embrace a more working class–friendly agenda. Why? Because it’s the job of politicians to keep their electoral coalition intact and happy.