“Darkness is good. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power.” — Steve Bannon.
Mississippi has enough darkness in its history without adding Steve Bannon’s particular variety of it, but it increasingly looks like that is exactly what those of us living here are about to get.
Bannon, who not only did, but continues to play a sort of Rasputin role in first the campaign and now the presidency of Donald Trump, currently has his eyes focused on electing Roy Moore Alabama’s next United States senator—a disaster in waiting both for that state and that governing body—but after that mischief, he is said to be poised to turn his aim toward replacing Mississippi’s U.S. senators, as well.
Both of them.
According to an exhaustive NBC news report last weekend, Bannon is already committed to strongly backing state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s expected run to unseat U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker next year, but also is urging Gov. Phil Bryant to appoint himself to Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat if Cochran, now 79 and in less than stellar health, steps down before the end of his current term in 2020.
And that would just about make Mississippi ground zero within the intra-Republican Party civil war that Bannon and his alt-right wing are rather ruthlessly waging against its more civilized members.
That Bannon would champion a McDaniel candidacy should surprise precisely no one. After his ugly and controversy-filled campaign against Cochran in 2014, the Tea Party’s darling McDaniel established himself as exactly Bannon’s kind of guy.
Formerly the Trump campaign CEO and now back running the president’s mouthpiece, Breitbart News, Bannon is now recruiting a whole slew of what he calls “populist nationalist” candidates to oust the GOP establishment in Washington.
In particular, he wants to run Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) out of town, and replace all other incumbent officeholders with his hand-picked brood of “new” Republicans, perceived to be much more in tune with and supportive of what he calls “the Trump agenda.”
Which is in reality, of course, the Bannon agenda, as Trump and original ideas are perilously close to being mutually exclusive.
And just exactly what does Steve Bannon want? What is this fellow’s grand vision for this country of ours?
“I’m a Leninist,” Bannon once told a reporter taking notes. “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that is my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down and destroy all of today’s establishment.”
Translation: a multi-syllabic version of “Drain the Swamp,” with just a little garnish of anarchy thrown in for good measure.
And by the way, pretty high up on the list of Mosby’s Rules of Politics is this: When a fellow tells you what he is, believe him.
So the splendid Mr. Bannon wants to fill Cochran’s senate seat with one of his own, too, and Bryant, who has been nothing short of fawning in his support and praise for Trump, certainly qualifies.
Now, whether the governor would actually be brazen enough to appoint himself should Mississippi’s senior senator step down, remains to be seen, but there are certainly plenty of other kindred spirits within this state’s Republican circles for Bannon to choose among to additionally further his slightly twisted definition of “conservative values.”
What remains of Mississippi’s traditional Republicans better get ready for what’s gonna be a defining battle for their party’s soul, because just as sure as cotton is soft and white, Bannon will show no mercy and take no prisoners in his more than a little disturbingly messianic quest.
A lot of Mississippians, to their credit, thought the 2014 Cochran/McDaniel GOP primary and runoff battles were waged too much in the gutter for their tastes
But since then, Trump has been elected and Moore just might be and good and decent folks living here better pray that Cochran’s health holds out a little longer and fall in line behind Wicker with their money and their votes.
Because in Bannon, nothing short of a political prince of darkness will soon enough be on his way to the state that’s always been one of the country’s favored whipping boys and there are ears here sympathetic to his brand of venom.
Something evil this way comes, and I am pretty sure we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.
Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.