“Steve Bannon is disrupting democracy. This is how.”

CNN has a very lengthy profile of Bannon’s current podcasting and related efforts, along with recounting the history of Bannon’s rise to prominence, as jury selection begins in Bannon’s contempt trial.

This quote from the CNN piece caught my eye:

“If you’re running for office in the Republican primary these days, you probably want to sit down with Steve Bannon on his podcast,” said David Chalian, CNN’s political director. “I would argue Steve Bannon right now in this time is setting the agenda — even more than Donald Trump.”

Also this useful perspective from Ben Ginsberg:

Benjamin Ginsberg, a Republican elections attorney, told CNN there is nothing inherently wrong with the civic engagement — that getting involved at the polls is “actually the healthy outlet that’s supposed to occur.”

“The question is what people who doubt elections actually do in the polling place. And if — as people go to vote to cast their rightful ballot — they’re stopped or harassed or hassled, then that becomes the problem,” said Ginsberg, a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

I think Ben captures the key point: grassroots activism, even on social issues to express controversial viewpoints, is not problematic for democracy; it is an essential component of collective self-government; what’s antithetical to democracy is for grassroots activism, or elite behavior from professional politicians, to attempt to distort the electoral process so that it does not produces results that accord with the prevailing preferences of the electorate.

The CNN piece also extensively discusses Bannon’s role in the so-called “Green Bay Sweep” plan to negate Biden’s Electoral College victory in the January 6 joint session of Congress. It quotes Bannon’s January 5 podcast:

We’ve called the play; now let’s run the play,” Bannon said on a January 5 episode of “War Room.” “We’re gonna run the Green Bay Sweep tomorrow.”

One question I have is whether, if Bannon is successful in his “precinct strategy” to populate local and state election administration with a vast number of election denialists, will the courts have the capacity to keep this kind of election denialism in check and, through their power of injunctions and other judicial remedies, enable the rule of law to prevail in the actual conduct of election administration. On this point, I take seriously the warning expressed by Bill Gates, the Republican chair of Maricopa County’s board of supervisors:

“My greatest fear is that we have — in 2022 — we have people who are elected, particularly to election boards, secretaries of state, who will essentially reject the oath of office and put their finger on the scale to tip the balance in the elections in 2024,” said Gates, the supervisor in Maricopa County, Arizona.

In theory, the rule of law should stop this from happening. But what about in practice?

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