Stephen K. Bannon, former Assistant to the President and Chief Strategist in the Trump Administration, delivered a speech at The Citadel Republican Society in South Carolina several days ago. Bannon was introduced by Catherine Templeton, who is running for Governor of South Carolina as a conservative and an outsider. Indeed, the theme of the "outsider" formed a key part of Bannon's speech, as he recounted how the Trump campaign pulled off "the single greatest come-from-behind victory in American political history," something South Carolinians should remember when they reprise their pivotal role as "first in the South" in presidential elections. Notably, listening to Bannon's presentation, unedited and in his own words, reveals a much different picture than the one manufactured by the mainstream media.
The media paints Bannon, in short, as a hotheaded demagogue who panders to the darker instincts of voters in order to close the sale. At The Citadel, however, Bannon asked his audience to read, and "think about," two recent sociopolitical texts: Chinese President Xi Jinping's 60-plus page speech titled "Secure a Decisive Victory in Building a Moderately Prosperous Society in All Respects and Strive for the Great Success of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era," and J.D. Vance's book Hillbilly Elegy.
Bannon indicated that Xi's speech details what America faces in the coming world, given Xi's belief that "the Confucian mercantilist authoritative model has won." As for Vance's book, Bannon describes it as "the sociological underpinning of the Trump Revolution." Here, Bannon appeals to the head more than the heart. How many "demagogues" draw up reading lists and assign "homework"? Clearly, the mainstream media isn't dispassionately presenting all the facts.
Bannon offered some answers to Hillary Clinton's famous question, "what happened?" Bannon suggested that a campaign should "give people permission to vote for you as an agent of change." He described the importance of "an empowered grassroots that go door-to-door" with "big actionable ideas," namely ending illegal immigration and bringing jobs back to America.
Strangely, it wasn't until Bannon mentioned the hand of the Divine at work in the outcome of the election that a left-wing protester lurking in the audience became triggered and began to scream before she was escorted out by security. No doubt she too believed The Narrative crafted by the media. The part of Bannon's speech about the books and readings must have reminded her too much of her coursework and lulled her to sleep up to that point.
Overall, the event was a signature success, South Carolina style. In this "deep-red" state, all the right people were annoyed (such as Democratic Party hacks and sundry op-ed page columnists in the big city papers), and all the right people were pleased (the clean, upstanding folks of The Citadel and the true, unvarnished grassroots of the SCGOP).