I’ll never forget the words Steve Bannon uttered Feb. 23, 2017, just over a month after Donald Trump was sworn in as president.
“Hold us accountable for what we promised,” he said. “Hold us accountable for delivering what we promised.”
I loved that.
I can’t remember any White House senior adviser and strategist ever asking to be held accountable for fulfilling campaign promises.
It gave me hope. I knew Steve Bannon, and I knew he sincerely meant what he said.
But now Steve Bannon is no longer in the White House, and I am left wondering if there is anyone left behind who feels that way.
So, how do we salvage the great promise of Donald Trump’s election as president?
To whom do we turn to hold the White House accountable now?
The election of 2016 brought together a strange new political coalition as well the birth of a new media coalition. It’s how Trump won. He didn’t win because he got the support of the Republican Party; he won in spite of it.
The Trump campaign brought together Americans who had been left out of politics for 30 years – ignored, taken for granted, lied to, used and abused.
They were people whose interests were forgotten because they didn’t protest and sneer at America. They just worked hard, raised nice families, went to church and helped others in need.
They were people who believed in the Constitution and doing what’s right. They served in the military. They didn’t ask for handouts or bailouts from government.
Then, along came a man – not a politician, mind you, but a super-successful businessman – who spoke their language. His words resonated with them. Build a wall – what could be simpler and more logical? Stop the refugee flow from terror-supporting nations – could there be an idea more sensible? Scale back regulations on businesses so they would hire more Americans rather than leave the country. Make American Great Again. Make our cities safe. Put America first. Rebuild crumbing infrastructures without padding the pockets of political cronies. Don’t start wars you can’t win. Speak the truth despite the heckling it will always prompt.
Steve Bannon recognized the great opportunity this common-sense businessman represented to the future of our country.
I did, too, along with a few other alternative-media entrepreneurs.
Before we knew it, there seemed to be a loose but unstoppable coalition threatening the entire two-party political establishment that maintained a stranglehold on Washington.
I suspect Donald Trump really didn’t understand how dangerous his ideas were, how threatening they were to the special interests that benefited from what had become the charade, the mockery, of representative government.
But Steve Bannon did.
And that’s why his departure from the executive branch is such a disappointment to people who realize Trump had no more fierce and able defender, proponent, street-fighter and strategist at his side than Steve Bannon.
We could all just give up, throw in the towel, say we gave it our best shot and move on, forget about politics because it’s a dirty business.
Or, we could refuse to give up – because the other side never does, even when they are badly beaten, humiliated, trounced and demoralized.
Maybe we join with Steve Bannon and salvage what we can from this once-in-a-lifetime political opportunity by doing what he suggested a month after the Inauguration – hold the White House accountable for its promises.
That would be something.
It’s undeniable that Donald Trump has surrounded himself with people who never really understood why his ideas resonated with the American people, nor did they care. Some of them actively opposed Trump. Some of them still do.
Yet, we also need to recognize that Trump, despite all the opposition he faces – internally and externally – has achieved some near-miraculous accomplishments in his first year in office.
If we work hard, stay focused, remain united, we just might achieve much more in the years to come. If we love America, we don’t really have any other option. Do we?
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