News broke Thursday that Steve Bannon, the firebrand at the helm of Breitbart, encouraged Milo Yiannopoulos, the alt-right provocateur and occasional defender of pedophilia, to stop masturbating and start fighting to save western civilization.
A little later news broke that Bannon would be headlining the 2017 Values Voter Summit.
This is an unusual and illustrative example about the state of social conservatism. And if that respected summit is to be known by the company it brings onstage, then maybe its board of directors should consider revising the list of speakers.
Hosted by the Family Research Center, the decade old Values Voter Summit is a sort of who's-who for social conservatives. It gives Republican politicians an opportunity to network with spiritual leaders and wealthy donors. Past speaking lists have included everyone from former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., to Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family.
Think of it as the religious right's version of CPAC with less partying and drinking.
For the first time this year, Bannon will be onstage. "Steve Bannon, who helped orchestrate the grassroots political movement that led to President Trump's success," Family Research Center Tony Perkins told Breitbart News in the announcement, "is now moving to Act II—the U.S. Senate." And now, apparently, the Family Research Center wants to help him with that takeover.
But while frustration with inaction in Congress is understandable and while Christian social conservatives have been neglected by their party before, this seems like a potentially dangerous step. These conservatives run the risk of being co-opted.
Bannon has already run this play down south in Alabama. His populist nationalists helped provide an animus to Judge Roy Moore's Senate campaign, introducing the religious right to the alt-right. And it worked. Moore won in Alabama and Moore will also appear on the Values Voter stage.
Perhaps if Yiannopoulos wants to save Western Civilization he could join them. Would social conservatives even care anymore?
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.