With several intense protests raging in cities across America this weekend, it’s apparent that a large majority of Americans are highly dissatisfied with the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency. Citizens aren’t too thrilled with the president-elect’s latest Cabinet picks either.
President-elect Trump announced Sunday that he had chosen Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to serve as his chief of staff. In the same breath, he also announced that Stephen K. Bannon, who formerly worked as his campaign CEO, would serve as his chief strategist and counselor to the president.
“I am thrilled to have my very successful team continue with me in leading our country,” Trump said in an emailed statement. “Steve and Reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory. Now, I will have them both with me in the White House as we work to make America great again.”
While the appointment of Priebus signaled hope of reconciliation between Trump and the GOP at large, the president-elect’s selection of Bannon — a well-known alt-right proponent — sends an entirely different message.
According to NPR, the former head of alt-right website Breitbart is known for his “no-holds-barred approach to politics” and popularity among far-right conservatives.
“Unquestionably, [Bannon] is a take-no-prisoners operative,” said Domenico Montanaro, NPR’s political editor. “A former Hollywood producer, a Goldman Sachs managing director, as well, he ran the Breitbart website, which has become synonymous with the alt-right. And he’s certainly no fan of the establishment Republicans.”
During his time at Breitbart, Bannon was accused of promoting and legitimizing ideas that were consistent with the white nationalist movement, ThinkProgress reports. He reportedly also used the term “alt-right” to refer to white supremacist followers.
In a piece for the Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro, who worked alongside Bannon as Breitbart’s Editor-at-Large, wrote that Bannon “openly embraced the white supremacist alt-right.” Shapiro also noted that, “Breitbart has become the alt-right go-to website … pushing white ethno-nationalism as a legitimate response to political correctness, and the comment section turning into a cesspool for white supremacist meme-makers.”
Andrew Breitbart, the founder of the website, even likened the newly selected chief strategist to Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl, ThinkProgress reported.
News of Bannon’s appointment to such a powerful position in Trump’s Cabinet also set off a firestorm of reactions in Washington and on Twitter. According to the New York Times, the Anti-Defamation League offered a sharp criticism of Bannon, calling him “hostile to core American values.”
“It is a sad day when a man who has presided over the premier website of the ‘alt-right’ — a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists — is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house,’ ” the statement read.
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) November 14, 2016
Frustrated Americans voiced similar outrage and concern on Twitter over the weekend.
Republicans explain that Steve Bannon and the alt-right aren't actually racists, and "those are just lies spread by the Jew media."
— Mr. Anthropy (@Zwolf666) November 14, 2016
@RepCohen Please voice our concerns about Steve Bannon to Congress – he cannot be allowed to be Chief Strategist!
— Tulip Majumdar (@tulipmajumdar) November 14, 2016
Reid spox: Trump selection of Bannon "signals that White Supremacists will be represented at the highest levels in Trump's White House."
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) November 14, 2016
A white nationalist, Steve Bannon, has been tapped by @realdonaldtrump as senior counselor & chief strategist. Let THAT sink in.
— rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) November 13, 2016
Bannon, the anti-semitic, white supremacist, was appointed as Trumps chief strategist. Time to move.
— Sasha Charis (@sashacharis) November 14, 2016
According to a press release, both Priebus and Bannon are expected to split decision-making powers while working in the Trump administration. This is good news to some — but still very worrisome to others.