On Friday, November 2, Steve Bannon debated David Frum about populism and conservatism, and about the volatile combination of the two known in recent years as the “alt-right.” The debate, sponsored by a charitable foundation, took place amid protests in an auditorium in downtown Toronto, Canada.
Bannon, a media executive, political strategist, and one-time Hollywood producer, had a lot to do with making Donald Trump the President of the United States, and has defined the term “alt-right” in the public mind.
David Frum, who served in the administration of George W. Bush as a speechwriter and is now a senior editor at The Atlantic, is broadly an advocate of “neoconservatism,” a form of conservatism that is anti-populist in tone, hawkish on military affairs, and internationalist in perspective. Frum says that he voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, because a liberal Democratic President would be far preferable to Trump’s redirection and takeover of the Republican Party.
The Thing to Know:
The debate seems not to have changed any minds. Audience members were asked to vote both before and after the event on whether they believe that “the future of western politics is populist,” the proposition that Bannon was advancing and that Frum denied. Before the debate, 28% said “yes” and 72% said “no” to that proposition. After the debate, the numbers were exactly the same, 28/72.