How Steve Bannon's Political Views Were Influenced By Jimmy Carter

Steve Bannon, who at one time served as Donald Trump's political adviser, and who has steadfastly gone to bat for his man even at great personal peril, was sentenced on October 21 to four months in prison, as NPR News reports. In addition to the prison sentence, he was fined $6,500 for steadfastly refusing to comply with the Congressional panel investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol riots.

It is beyond dispute that Bannon is carrying water for both Trump and the Republican Party, even though Trump himself has washed his hands of the man, as Vanity Fair reported in 2018. That he chose defiance against a Democrat-led Congressional subcommittee as his hill to die on is a testament to just how deeply conservative Bannon is.

It's a rather startling outcome in his life that stands in stark contrast to his upbringing as the son of a family of Virginia, Catholic Democrats (per Axios). And Bannon credits (or blames, depending on your point of view) his political landing on 39th president Jimmy Carter.

From Carter to Reagan

Steve Bannon was born November 27, 1953, according to Britannica, in Norfolk, Virginia. Norfolk was and is a blue-collar city, the type of place where unions hold sway and, as such, would be populated by Democrats. Bannon's family certainly identified as Democrats, as Bannon himself later admitted to Bloomberg in 2015. "I come from a blue-collar, Irish Catholic, pro-Kennedy, pro-union family of Democrats," he said.

Bannon would later add that he didn't consider himself political until after he served in the military. After getting a B.A. in urban affairs from Virginia Tech in 1976, he did what a lot of Norfolk men and women do and joined the Navy. It was during his years in uniform that his political views began to come into focus. "I wasn't political until I got into the service and saw how badly Jimmy Carter f***ed things up. I became a huge Reagan admirer. Still am," he said in 2015.

Even other Republicans didn't get a pass when it came to being evaluated by Bannon. "In 2008 [I saw] that Bush had f***ed up as badly as Carter. The whole country was a disaster," he said.

Was Jimmy Carter all that bad?

How good or bad a president is will largely depend upon your point of view, including your political affiliation. Many Americans who lived through the Carter administration will agree that it was a difficult time in American history. The Iran Hostage Crisis (and a failed rescue mission) hung over the country, which was itself experiencing an economic recession, made worse by an energy crisis (per History).

Justifiably or not, Carter was the face of America's failures during those days, according to PBS News. However, as president he actually put together an impressive list of accomplishments. Historian Jonathan Alter notes that Carter signed groundbreaking environmental legislation, was the first POTUS to take climate change seriously, established the Federal Emergency Management Agency (per FEMA), and was instrumental in passing a law that protects whistleblowers.

However, journalist Judy Woodruff added (via that PBS News interview) that Carter also made several mistakes. There were embarrassments, many of his own doing, and as president, he also suffered from quite a bit of simple bad luck