Reprinted with permission from Media Matters
Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon's recent interview with a local Republican Party committee member on how Trump supporters might be able to take control of the party at the grassroots level is now being enthusiastically promoted on far-right platforms — including to followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which has been linked to domestic terrorism and the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
On February 6, Bannon hosted Dan Schultz, an attorney and a local GOP committee member from Arizona, on his podcast to discuss conservatives taking over the Republican Party by becoming the local precinct committee officers throughout the country as many of these positions are vacant from lack of public awareness. From there, according to Schultz, they could gain influence over local elected officials and even determine the course of national presidential nominations.
Bannon's interview with Schultz caught further attention, with social media posts appearing on far-right platforms 4chan, Patriots.win, and Gab. These posts especially focused on the claim by Bannon and Schultz that 200,000 local committee slots nationwide — roughly half of the total seats — currently stand empty and could be filled easily, potentially even by running unopposed. Some of the posts touted this as "The Best Kept Secret to taking over the Republican (GOP) Party."
These social media platforms have long served as havens for white nationalists, as well as spreading conspiracy theories about such topics as the Black Lives Matter movement and the 2020 election, as well as dangerous rhetoric related to the coronavirus pandemic and the January 6 insurrection.
In addition, one of the Telegram accounts promoting the plan is a follower of the the QAnon conspiracy theory; QAnon supporters have widely supported the January 6 insurrection and called for a military coup in the United States. A number of QAnon supporters ran for Congress and state legislatures in 2020, the most successful of whom was Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). This month, the House of Representatives voted to strip Greene of her committee assignments, due to her history of espousing conspiracy theories and supporting violent threats against members of Congress when she was an online commentator.
During the interview, Schultz spoke of the power and influence that comes from local committees at the grassroots level in speaking to politicians, and organizing votes in the primary elections that those local candidates must first win. Also key, Schultz explained, is the election of delegates and party officials higher up the line.
"You'll also elect the delegates to the four-year state presidential nominating convention. The delegates there that you've elected — and you can run for delegate — only the precinct committeemen elect the delegates," Schultz said. "The delegates elect the national convention delegates directly, and then they also elect the national committeeman and the national committeewoman to a four-year term on the RNC. That's real political power. We can take over the party if we invade it."
This has been a long-running project for Schultz, ever since the tea party movement gained prominence over a decade ago because of its opposition to President Barack Obama.
"And I've told people this since 2009. I told the tea partyers this," Schultz added. "If you will not at least try this, and get involved, and take over the party, I can't guarantee you that we'll save the republic, but I can guarantee you this: We'll lose it. If we conservatives don't take over the Republican Party, we're going to lose our republic."
Bannon also emphasized the importance of what Schultz was saying by commenting, "This is the ability to take over the Republican Party, because this is where the votes are. It's a pyramid, and this is the base of the pyramid."
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Bannon previously made numerous calls for former President Donald Trump to subvert the results of the 2020 election. He also compared pro-Trump protests after the elections to the American Revolution and on January 5, said that "all hell is going to break loose tomorrow" when the Electoral College votes were going to get counted. (Since then, he has tried to downplay the violence that took place that day — while also urging Trump's impeachment legal team to continue pursuing the false claims that the election was stolen.)