In August, when Stephen Bannon called me out of the blue, I came away from that bizarre conversation impressed with the coherence of his grand strategy, and relieved that Donald Trump has embraced only part of it. As Bannon explained with surprising candor driven by braggadocio, the idea is first to racialize politics—to remind white people, especially those who feel beleaguered, of their whiteness. If race becomes a prime identity for downwardly mobile white people, well, there still are a lot more whites than other colors in the rainbow. And if Democrats can get baited into defining their prime mission and identity as defending the rainbow, the right wins.
“I want them to talk about racism every day,” Bannon told me. “If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.” The press coverage focused on the race part of that quote, but the economic nationalism aspect of the strategy is at least as interesting.