“Their” Democracy

Steve Bannon’s sentence defines the criminality of the New Regime

The Biden administration continued its campaign to criminalize political opposition on Friday after a judge sentenced Steve Bannon to four months in jail for criminal contempt of Congress. Bannon is reportedly set to become the first person to be incarcerated for contempt of Congress in more than half a century, and also faces a $6,500 fine for his refusal to comply with a subpoena issued by the show trial masquerading as the House January 6th select committee. The former White House Chief Strategist joins a long list of figures who have been found in contempt of Congress including Eric Holder, Lois Lerner, and Janet Reno. Of course, none of those figures were sentenced to jail time for the same crime, and it doesn’t matter that Bannon did not participate or even attend the January 6th protests. The purpose of the select committee is not to actually investigate the events surrounding the protest but instead to punish Donald Trump and the political opponents of the Democratic Party.

It would be a waste of time to list the countless Washington DC functionaries who have committed far worse crimes, including fabricating evidence and directly lying to Congress, and faced zero jail time. Those individuals are shielded by their allegiance to the deep state after all and Bannon has declared himself an enemy of that same permanent bureaucratic class, and this cannot be tolerated. From the FBI’s raid on President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence to their sweeping arrests of peaceful pro-life protesters, the message is clear: the federal justice system is a tool to punish political opponents of the Biden administration and the progressive Regime. The selective enforcement of a violation that no one has been incarcerated for since the 1940s is not hypocrisy, it is the establishment of a permanent political and legal hierarchy put on public display for all to see.

Previously, our ruling class could rely on the illusion of two competing political factions to obfuscate the nature of power in the United States. Democrats could hand formal power over to the GOP every few election cycles safe in their knowledge that their control of the press, universities and permanent Washington bureaucracy would ensure that conservatives never managed to implement any lasting changes. This reality was on full display during the first Trump presidency. Despite Trump and Bannon’s plans to radically alter the Washington status quo, the administration was crippled from the outset by relentless media attacks from without and constant bureaucratic betrayals from within. As Bannon himself puts it, “[the Administrative State] is not there to validate your victories. They’re there to defeat, first of all, you, but if you somehow win, they’re there to make sure that you can’t govern.” Both Trump and Bannon have publicly declared their intention to totally gut the federal bureaucracy if given a second chance, and this is a direct threat aimed at the true center of power in Washington.

Many elected Republicans meanwhile have taken to cable news and social media to warn about the “dangerous precedent” the sentence against Bannon sets. But this is a mistake. It suffers under the delusion that the Left still retains a belief in an objective and politically neutral justice system, while it’s clear it sees such neutrality as an outdated relic of the past and a threat to their rule. In theory, the natural rhythm of democracy, the regular pendulum swinging from left to right, is supposed to limit the ambitions of elected officials. No one wants to build a superweapon that they inevitably are forced to hand over to their mortal enemies. But the systematic advantage the Left has gained by their permanent control of the deep state means they have been able to safely accrue more and more power to the federal government without fear of facing consequences when their opponents take control. As I have written before, by controlling the institutions that credential bureaucrats, the Left controls the ideology that will guide the decisions of the technocracy, no matter who ‘officially’ controls it. Progressives, therefore, no longer care what kind of precedent their persecution of Bannon sets because they do not expect to ever be out of power in any meaningful way.

Joe Biden, most notably in his recent “Battle for the Soul of the Nation” speech in Philadelphia, has joined the media and the rest of the Democratic Party in referring to Trump supporters as essentially “terrorists.” Celebrities and political pundits now regularly assert that voting for Democrats is the only way to protect “our democracy” against the “fascist” threat of the Republican Party and the Right at large. The goal of this escalation in rhetoric is both shocking and obvious. It is meant to justify the political persecution of those that oppose the Regime and establish an informal one-party state. Yet despite this being clear, it is still difficult for the GOP or even the average Trump supporter to acknowledge. This is America after all, a nation governed by laws with a Constitution designed to limit the power of government and protect the rights of its free citizens. Things like this can’t possibly happen in the United States; except that now they do, and that is a difficult reality to accept.

A previously unimaginable amount of power has been accumulated by the federal Leviathan. We’re at a point where the state can shut down the economy, close schools, jail protesters, and purge the military in the name of public health. No one who accumulates that kind of power simply hands it over to their mortal enemy because fifty-one percent of the plebs say so – and make no mistake, the Left sees red America as an existential threat. Democrats have drank deeply of their own Kool-Aid and regularly assert that the election of any GOP president will mean the return of slavery, the murder of women and the persecution of every kind of minority. That kind of unhinged rhetoric is now common from both elected officials and political commentators, and it leaves very little room for negotiation or finding common ground. What couldn’t be justified in the quest to defeat this kind of evil? How could any government let a party and a population so bent on the destruction of sacred democratic norms and civil rights continue to operate legally through free and fair elections?

While the sentencing of Steve Bannon stands as a striking escalation of the politicization of the American justice system that has been ongoing for many years, the most serious challenge is now clearly in view. The House select committee has subpoenaed Donald Trump in relation to the events of January 6th. The prison time handed down to Bannon for contempt of Congress is obviously meant as a threat aimed directly at Trump – but not only him. Men like Trump, like Bannon, like your father in his MAGA hat, are too dangerous to participate in democracy, and the Left is very happy to make it clear that they are the ones who decide who has a voice in the American political process. If the Democrats are able to threaten the former President and likely GOP nominee for 2024 with jail time for not complying with a show trial and get away with it, then who’s out of their reach? All pretense of the rule of law could soon disintegrate before our eyes.

The political prosecution of dissidents by the Democratic establishment is not a violation of norms, it is the establishment of new norms. A two-tier system with a hierarchy where those that serve the Regime have one set of laws and rights, and those that oppose it have another. Bannon is currently free while he navigates the appeals process for his conviction, but if incarcerated he will serve time as a political prisoner, something that is becoming frighteningly common in our Western liberal democracy. While conservatives are busy complaining about “hypocrisy” or “dangerous precedents” being set, the Left has no problem with letting all of us know that opposition to their agenda is too dangerous to be allowed in the public square. This, after all, is now ‘their’ Democracy, and it must be protected at all costs.

Auron MacIntyre is a YouTuber and recovering journalist.

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