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State of American History, Civics, and Politics

Peter Wehner versus Steve Bannon: The Battle Is Engaged

God's Anointed (

There are so many civil wars going on it is hard to keep track of them. And that is just the civil wars in the United States. As a resident of the 16th Congressional District in New York State, I live at Ground Zero for the battle for the future of the Democratic Party. The amount of money being spent for the Democratic primary in a reliably Democratic district is off the Richter scale. After June 25, peace and quiet should return to the shire. The reverberations of the battle will last for weeks, months, and years to come.

In the meantime, the battle for the soul and votes of the Republican Party continues full throttle. It also will continue to do so for months if not years to come until one side throws in the towel and perhaps creates a new political party. After all, that is how the Republican Party first emerged in the era of the Third Party System. As the Whigs disintegrated over slavery, a multitude of parties emerged including the Republican Party with Abraham Lincoln as the candidate for President. Quite an auspicious start.

Now let’s see how Peter Wehner and Steven Bannon are faring in the battle for the Republican Party today.


So read the headline of an op-ed piece by Peter Wehner and Jonathan Rauch in The New York Times way back on April 10, 2024 (print). In the piece, they approvingly quote former Vice President Dick Cheney:

‘There has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump.’

Presumably he was referring to domestic threats but quite possibly he meant any threat including foreign and Confederate.

Wehner and Rauch acknowledge that the Republican Party is thoroughly MAGA and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. They also note that there still remain registered Republicans who do not support the MAGAs but who are not prepared to shed their political identity and become Democrats.

Their proposed solution is to create a Republican Party in exile. They call it a counter-establishment dedicated to recapturing the party from the outside. Given the MAGA control of the Republican Party infrastructure, even a defeat in 2024 will not cause MAGAs to relinquish control of the party. Berman and Wehner don’t mention it but even the lawsuits over the 2024 elections plus those which have been delayed to after the election will keep MAGAs fuming for years to come.

How would a Republican Party in exile work?

First, accept the exile status.

Second, proclaim the Party in Exile to be the true Republican Party of Lincoln. It is the MAGAs who lack political legitimacy. Rauch and Wehner don’t say so but it is the MAGAs who are the true RINO’s.

Third, create agenda(s) for the post-MAGA future. Obviously this can be difficult in practice. Once one goes beyond being anti-Trump, what then holds the Republican Party in Exile together? The agenda that lost in 2008? Lost in 2012? Was swept away in 2016?

Fourth, the goal must be to overthrow MAGA. This blunt goal states there can be no compromise with a lawless, moral anarchy, conspiratorial thinking assault on-the-Constitution Party. Take no prisoner.

Run candidates where you can and set the stage for bringing back the Republican Party from defeat.


How realistic is the plan by Rauch and Wehner for regaining control of the Republican Party? “Finish What We Started: The MAGA Movement‘s Ground War to End Democracy,” by Isaac Arnsdorf (Book review by Jennifer Szalai, NYT May 26, 2024, print), presents an alternative path to power.

By now people are familiar with the grass roots’ effort literally taking place at the ground level in American society. I am referring to the school board meetings, the election workers, the precinct committee leaders, the normally invisible people who keep the government running. Oftentimes, it is difficult to recruit people for these positions. The result is some people hold them for life. The 2020 effort by Trump to steal the election was stymied by just such people.

The MAGAs have learned the lessons well from 2020. Voter suppression isn’t enough. There also are counting the vote and certifying the vote. Such workers have been retiring/quitting in droves.The combination of suppressing the vote and rigging the count complicate the validity of the polls being taken.


The battle for the future of the Republican Party is being fought right now. Here are some examples.

“In a Texas G.O.P at War with Itself, Hard Right is Gaining,” (NYT May 31, 2024, print)

“A County Clerk’s Lonely Stand Vs. Die-Hard Election Deniers (NYT June 9, 2024, print

This two-and one-half page article carried over from the front page of the Sunday paper, is a report that just as easily could have been filed from Gaza or Ukraine without the violence. Here is the plight of the Real Republicans in face of the onslaught by the MAGAs:

“This is actually insane. This is how democracies end. There must be some way to reason with a few of these people” – Angela Clark, Deputy Clerk

“It’s like talking to a wall right now. I‘ve give them every fact and document known to mankind, and none of it matters. They are too busy chanting their mantras to stop and listen…. A lot of these people [on the recall petition] really know… me…What in the world happened to these people? What kind of person could actually believe this nonsense? – Cindy Elgan, County Clerk

As Elgan defended the system, Mary Jane Zakas upped the stakes. The recall should be not just for Elgan but the county auditor and district attorney. Zakas wanted a complete and total house cleaning.

She is quoted as saying, “Who would have believe that Cindy – sweet Cindy, our Cindy – could be connected to the deep state umbilical cord?”

Zakas was now connected to a vast conspiratorial world of covid, covid vacines, and Trump the anointed. There was no turning back now. MAGAs were battling for another county far removed from the center of power in even the smallest of rural counties.

“House G.O.P Spending Chief Faces Primary Fight from Right” (NYT June 17, 2024 print)

For hours upon hours people like Zakas are fed a barrage of MAGA messages not just from Foxhub but from Bannon and other apostles of the anointed one. It gives them a sense of belonging. They are part of a larger community. The world really does make sense once you see the truth. There is no “come let us reason together.” Felon convictions simply prove the demonical world is out to destroy the anointed one.

Here we may observe the incongruity of the situation.

On the one hand, there is a renowned con artist skilled in the ways of scamming people.

But on the other hand, there are people who desperately need to believe the con. If you take away a people’s faith then what do they have left?

The challenge to Berman and Wehner isn’t simply a political one, it is a religious one. They need a compelling message of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, or Ronald Reagan proportions for the 21st century if they are to succeed in taking back the Republican Party and so far they don’t have one. Talking points and facts won’t work against God’s anointed.


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