Bannon savors the power of symbolism. That symbolic power infused Trump’s campaign, and now, apparently, his administration’s rhetoric. After all, as Andrew Breitbart made clear when he famously dubbed him the “Leni Riefenstahl of the Tea Party,” Bannon is a master propagandist. He’s also a master opportunist, going by his fitful shifts in career. So it’s possible that the narrative flowing through Trump’s inaugural address and executive actions is simply what Bannon has calibrated over time to rouse maximum populist fervor—and that it doesn’t reflect plans to upend America.
There’s also, however, the possibility that Bannon is steering Trump toward the “enlightened capitalist,” Judeo-Christian, nationalistic vision that he has come to believe America needs.
Which it is, we can’t know, of course: Only Bannon knows what Bannon really wants. What we do know for sure, though, is that a man who has staked out a deep desire for a violent resurgence of “Western civilization” now has the power to fulfill it.