Former White House Chief Strategist Steven Bannon, who was Donald Trump’s campaign manager for the final weeks before the 2016 election, is predicting the Republicans could lose control of the House of Representatives next year.
As Bannon sees it, the key issue will be DACA, President Obama’s Executive Order that gave some 800,000 youthful illegal immigrants a safe harbor as long as they met certain conditions, which President Trump has ordered be revoked.
By allowing a six month waiting period for Congress to create a legislative version of DACA – and announcing he would revisit the issue if Congress fails to act – Bannon believes Trump has set up a dangerous battle inside the Republican Party that is likely to climax next Spring just as the primaries are taking place in advance of the midterm election.
“I’m worried about losing the House now because of this,” Bannon told interviewer Charlie Rose during an interview for the CBS show “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday evening.
Bannon sees a battle over DACA between conservatives who are against any illegal immigration and want severe limits on even legal immigration, and those moderates and what he calls “establishment Republicans” who feel compassion, believe the DREAMERs as they are called contribute to the country and worry about losing Hispanic voters.
“If this goes all the way down to its logical conclusion,” said Bannon, “in February and March it will be a civil war inside the Republican Party.”
Bannon did not specifically blame Trump for creating the dangerous timetable by delaying implementation of his end to DACA and his promise to revisit it, but the message was clear.
“And to me,” added Bannon, “doing that in the springboard of primary season for 2018 is extremely unwise.”
Bannon sees the DACA fight in the larger terms of his belief “establishment Republicans” never wanted Trump to be president and do not support the President’s “populist agenda.”
“The Republican establishment is trying to nullify the 2016 election,” Bannon said, citing in particular Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Bannon, who is a practicing Catholic, also lashed out at the Catholic Church for its support of DACA and criticism of the president for ending the popular program.
Bannon’s view is that the Church is desperate to find new members and fill seats at service and it sees Hispanics as an important part of its congregation in the future.
“Because unable to really come to grips with the problem in the church,” said Bannon, “they need illegal aliens, they need illegal aliens to fill the churches.”
The entire House membership is up for re-election in November 2018, which Bannon sees as the time Republicans could lose their majority, which is the largest for the party since 1931. Currently, there are 240 Republicans in the House and 194 Democrats, with one seat currently vacant (but subject to a special election later this year).
That means the Democrats would need a swing of as many as 48 seats which would not be impossible but even with all the turmoil around Trump and DACA will be a huge challenge.
DACA is an emotional issue for many Americans but especially for Hispanics, many of whom are already upset about Trump’s policies limiting immigration, plans to build a wall along the Mexican border and his travel bans.
If that emotion leads a lot more Hispanics to vote in states like Texas where they are a huge bloc, that would change everything and be a huge help to Democrats.
What Bannon is not saying is that if the Democrats retake the House, it would change everything for Trump. He not only could forget about pushing through his “populist agenda,” but could also face a sudden end to his presidency.
That is because if Democrats control the Hosue again they would have the power to issue subpoenas tied to investigations like the Rubbian probe, control the committees doing the investigation and be in a position to vote for impeachment if the process gets that far.
Taking back the House would be a dream scenario not just for DREAMERs but for Democrats who have been frustrated by being a minority at a time there are so many issues that are deeply important to the party and its supporters, from health care to tax reform to DACA.
Bannon proved to be surprisingly correct when he predicted in advance that Trump would win the 2016 election even though all the polls indicted Secretary Hillary Clinton would win.
This time it is Democrats who hope Bannon will be proven correct that the bitter divide inside the Republican party will be the blueprint for their own destruction.
It is odd to think Democrats want Bannon to be correct this time but they would be the ones cheering if the self-described “street fighter” once again proves his crystal ball offers a clear vision of the future.