Melanie Paradis: How Steve Bannon is going to take over the Republican Party
He has managed to make getting involved in a political party at the grassroots level the hottest ticket in town, empowering his listeners to become influential political operatives.
By: Melanie Paradis
You could call Steve Bannon a lot of things, including a former White House chief strategist, and, as of just a few days ago, a convicted criminal.
But he’s also the mastermind behind what may become the most effective political heist the free world has ever seen. His heist is occurring in plain sight. Right now, as you read this.
Bannon, Donald Trump’s top campaign aide and strategist, was found guilty last week of two counts of criminal contempt of Congress. Bannon had refused to comply with a subpoena for documents and testimony by the House select committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol, and, well, you can’t do that. He may face jail time. But even if he does go behind bars, nothing could stop the freight train he has already set in motion.
Somewhere along the way, Bannon decided he didn’t like the Republican Party. He wanted Donald Trump to be its leader — but only as a means to an end, to make Trump President. But the Republican Party kept getting in Bannon’s way. Specifically, the establishment within the GOP. Those are the folks who have organized the fundraisers and held the power for decades — the rings you needed to kiss to get anywhere. Bannon clearly wants to break that wheel and replace it with his own.
The election loss in 2020 was actually the perfect opportunity to put his plans to take over the Republic Party into motion. He needed a catalyst. A motivator. Something to rally a whole lot of people to help him reach his goal. And man, did this guy build an audience. His podcast, War Room, is currently the second-most popular political podcast on Apple in America (and fifth in Canada). It started during the pandemic in 2019 but evolved to focus more on news of the day, and now has over 2,000 episodes. And since the 2020 election, it has become a platform for Bannon to advocate for his listeners, dubbed his “War Room Posse,” to stop complaining about politics and go out there and change things for themselves. And he’s using Dan Schultz’s Precinct Strategy as his call to
arms … err, clipboards?
The website, literally PrecinctStrategy.com, states: “America First Americans must take their political activities ‘into’ the Republican Party by becoming precinct committeemen and thereby transform the Party.” It also states the goal is “to have our state legislators pass election reform laws requiring all counties to stop using any kind of imaging machines for counting votes” and “making voting by mail the exception and not the rule.” The first step, according to the strategy, is “taking back the Republican Party from those running it now. And that means YOU becoming a precinct committeeman.”
Put simply, its goal is to take over the Republican Party and destroy that pesky establishment Bannon hates. To execute on this, Bannon has become a hype man for political volunteerism. He has managed to make getting involved in a political party at the grassroots level the hottest ticket in town, empowering his listeners to become influential political operatives by taking three very simple steps:
1. Go to a local Republican Party Committee meeting.
2. Introduce yourself, ask if there is a vacant precinct committeeman position, and volunteer for it. “Be friendly, polite, and low key. The current officers may be wary of outsiders,” says the website.
3. Get a copy of the precinct committeeman handbook, study it, and learn how to run for the position.
Readers who have been doorknockers, poll captains and scrutineers in Canadian elections might shrug because on the surface those jobs can be pretty sleepy. But in some U.S. states, precinct chairs and committeemen appoint election judges, decide primary winners, and can challenge elections. In Canada, these positions are more akin to a poll clerk and deputy returning officer — positions that are now bureaucratic appointments, for this very reason.
But even smaller jobs, like scrutineering ballots, can become incredibly important in a tight race. If you have ever been involved in a contested nomination or leadership race, you know how important strong scrutineering can be. The strongest scrutineers are highly motivated to fight for their cause or candidate and aren’t afraid to challenge their opponents’ ballots for any reason that will do. Bannon’s War Room Posse are motivated by the “Big Lie” — that the 2020 election was stolen, and that they must fight to reclaim democracy by becoming political foot soldiers.
So far, thousands of the “War Room Posse” have signed up to be precinct chairs or committeemen. If, during upcoming elections, they are able to generate enough disputes and widespread failure to certify election results, then state legislatures will need to intervene. That’s exactly the chaos Bannon wants.
By recruiting thousands to infiltrate the Party, Bannon is in the throes of executing a hostile takeover of a major democratic institution, for the express purpose of generating political chaos. But there is nothing you can do to stop it.
See, here’s the thing. Folks are watching the January 6th Committee hearings on prime time and thinking that was the insurrection. It wasn’t. It was just the warm-up.
Melanie Paradis is a veteran Conservative campaigner and the president of Texture Communications.
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