In less than six months, Steve Bannon went from White House chief strategist, steps away from the Oval Office, to head of Breitbart News, to — as of Tuesday — unemployed.
Bannon ran afoul of Trump last week after Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” White House tell-all quoted him as diminishing the president’s intelligence and accusing Trump’s son of “treasonous” behavior. Breitbart then decided it could no longer have Bannon serving as executive chairman of its conservative publication.
His swift fall from the heights of American political power gets rid of one of the few prominent voices on the far right who occasionally challenged Trump, as when he threw support behind Roy Moore in Alabama while the president was supporting Luther Strange. Bannon had seen Trumpism—a mix of economic populism and white identity politics—as distinct from Trump and was willing to diverge from the president in service of the bigger cause.
“Bannon was delusional,” Ben Shapiro, a former editor-at-large for Breitbart News, told The Atlantic on Tuesday. “There is no Trumpist movement; there is just Trump.”
Now, at least temporarily, Bannon is without a platform or funding to pursue any agenda separate from that of the president’s. He had been recruiting populist candidates across the country to run in the 2018 midterms, but most of them have now distanced themselves from Bannon in favor of Trump.
And it’s not just Bannon. The entire conservative movement is falling in line behind Trump.
The Republican Establishment that once thought of Trump and his so-called “movement” as a sideshow or a dark joke now has nothing but praise for their president and his tax cut and deregulatory agenda. “If you ignore the tweets” has become a familiar start to their sentences.
The populist right railing against globalists, the establishment, and speaking reverently of the “forgotten man” is much the same. Fox News, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, and Breitbart regularly echo one another, usually united in their praise for the administration.
Over the last few weeks, many of Trump’s most prominent critics on both sides of the right have either become muted or converted, consolidating the conservative movement behind a man both sides were once wary of.
Wittingly or unwittingly, Trump has made the Republican Party his own.
Some 2018 Republican far-right candidates who once flirted with Bannon are appealing to voters with pledges of loyalty to Trump. On Tuesday, Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio declared his candidacy for Arizona’s Senate seat “for one unwavering reason: the support the agenda and policies of President Donald Trump in his mission to Make America Great Again.” Arpaio received a pardon from Trump in 2017 for a criminal contempt charge stemming from his brutal treatment of undocumented immigrants.
The Republican Establishment, perhaps pleased that Trump has mostly deferred to them on policy and legislation, has also fallen into line in recent weeks after an occasionally fractious first year.
Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who said in October that Trump would be most remembered for “the debasement of our nation,” was all smiles and congratulations this week as he appeared alongside the president in his home state for the signing of an executive order. "People don't realize, we've been working together and talking together about numbers of issues for a long time," Corker told the Associated Press. "All that's being written is, like, old."
The members of the #NeverTrump “movement” have either given up the fight or are wandering in the wilderness without much influence over the actual policymakers. Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, which ran an entire issue dedicated to “Against Trump” during the Republican primary, said earlier this week on MSNBC, “It’s been an utterly conventional Republican agenda with some exceptions,” further calling many of Trump’s moves as “an A+ agenda.”
And Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called Trump “a kook,” “crazy,” and “unfit for office,” during the 2016 primary campaign but has recently taken to praising Trump and regularly golfing with him.
After a televised immigration meeting with members of Congress on Tuesday, Graham heaped on the praise.
“I ran out of things to say,” Graham explained on ABC's "The View" this week. “He won.”