For anyone who voted for Donald Trump hoping that, once safely in office, he would begin a move towards respectability and away from the white-supremacist leanings that won him the highest office in the land: I’m sorry, dear reader, but you have been played.
Earlier today, Trump’s campaign made official the rumored move that Reince Priebus, the soon-to-be former Republican National Committee chairman, will be the president-elect’s chief of staff. More notably, Steve Bannon will be Trump’s chief strategist. Bannon, for those who may have forgotten, is the white supremacist-friendly former Breitbart chairman and alleged domestic abuser who was put in charge of Trump’s campaign in its final months. This is without question an absolute worst-case scenario.
Of course, plenty of pundits are already focusing on Priebus’s appointment and hailing it as a good sign. At least Trump didn’t pick the more explicitly insane racist!
Except that, yes, he did.
The Trump campaign itself is making no effort to hide the fact that Bannon will have just as much sway as Priebus. Bannon and Priebus will be teammates, and have always been teammates.
When Donald Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” tape surfaced, Bannon and Priebus were part of the select cabal of goons huddled around as Trump hid in his golden tower. When Bannon was first hired, and Priebus was asked about his controversial (read: white nationalist) leanings, Priebus responded that he likes to “go with the flow based on what the campaign wants to do.” With Priebus on Trump’s left and Bannon firmly planted on Trump’s right for the next four years, there is no indication that that’s about to change.
So who, exactly, is this puppet master pulling Trump’s strings? Curiously, considering Trump’s claims to be a vessel of the forgotten white working class, he’s a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who holds degrees from Georgetown and Harvard and credits as a producer on serious movies like The Indian Runner and Titus. Eventually, he ended up with Breitbart, where he fostered a style of discourse basically resembling a local newspaper website’s comments section crossed with 4chan. As the Washington Post wrote:
Bannon, who had been publisher of the far-right website Breitbart, has called the pope a “commie” and said Catholics are trying to boost Hispanic immigration because their “church is dying.” [...] He has referred to the Civil War as the “war of Southern Independence” fought over “economic development.” He found “zero evidence” of racial motives in the Trayvon Martin shooting and warned that “cities could be washed away in an orgy of de-gentrification.”
In an interview with Mother Jones, Bannon laid out his associations thusly:
Look, are there some people that are white nationalists that are attracted to some of the philosophies of the alt-right? Maybe. Are there some people that are anti-Semitic that are attracted? Maybe. Right? Maybe some people are attracted to the alt-right that are homophobes, right? But that’s just like, there are certain elements of the progressive left and the hard left that attract certain elements.
Did he disavow any of those associations? No. No he did not.
Shortly after Bannon was appointed as Trump’s campaign CEO, court documents revealed that his ex-wife labeled him an explicit anti-Semite. According to her, Bannon had complained about their twin daughters attending Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles because there were too many Jews. His wife went on to say that Bannon “said that he doesn’t like the way [Jews] raise their kids to be ‘whiny brats’ and that he didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews.” (Bannon, of course, denied the allegations.)
All of which is to say, the fact that Donald Trump appointed his new friend Reince Priebus to chief of staff means practically nothing in terms of any sort of new direction. The direction remains the same. The man who will be president has appointed a man widely understood to have spent his life promoting white supremacy as one of his top advisers.
This should horrify you—unless you’ve been biding your time waiting for the white race to rise again. In that case, Bannon’s appointment should have you thrilled.