Former President Donald Trump has officially endorsed the “precinct strategy” that has been encouraged by far-right figures like Steve Bannon as a means to take over the Republican Party.
As ProPublica previously detailed, Bannon and frequent guest Dan Schultz are trying to get listeners to take over GOP precinct positions, becoming the “worker bees” of the party. And the listeners are taking action. ProPublica reported that Bannon’s podcast led to a surge in interest from his supporters who want to become local GOP precinct officers, noting that the outlet “contacted GOP leaders in 65 key counties, and 41 reported an unusual increase in signups since Bannon’s campaign began. At least 8,500 new Republican precinct officers (or equivalent lowest-level officials) joined those county parties. We also looked at equivalent Democratic posts and found no similar surge.”
Schultz has also advocated that those who obtain these local Republican Party positions should be prepared to inflict violence in carrying out their roles, telling supporters during a July conference call, “Make sure everybody’s got a baseball bat. … I’m serious about this. Make sure you’ve got people who are armed."
Bannon’s hosting of Schultz on his broadcast has been credited with the popularization of the so-called “independent legislature doctrine,” a radical and previously obscure legal theory that would allow a state legislature to unilaterally overturn election results -- an anti-democratic concept that has been embraced by many state Republican legislators in the wake of Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential election.
In a new statement, Trump yesterday cited Schultz by name and touted his “precinct strategy” as a way that “we can take back our great Country from the ground up.”
Bannon quickly touted the endorsement on his podcast, hosting precinct committee strategist Steve Stern. Stern profusely thanked Bannon and MyPillow's Mike Lindell for helping the effort:
Bannon has frequently hosted Schultz and Stern to talk about it.
- In February 2021, Media Matters showed that a Bannon interview with Schultz was shared among extremist platforms like 4chan, Patriots.win, and Gab, where the posts called for users to sign up for these committee slots.
- In June, Media Matters noted that in addition to promoting this plan with Bannon, Schultz also appeared on a number of QAnon shows to encourage their audiences to sign up.
- In September, Stern was one of Bannon’s guests in a segment about the precinct strategy; Stern said that the effort was being helped out by George Lombardi, “who is a close friend of President Trump.”
- In October, another guest brought on Bannon’s podcast to promote the precinct strategy said that people “should be scared” that now there are “25 to a hundred million little Trump 2.0s running around the country.”
- That same month, Media Matters also identified that the link used by the precinct strategy website to connect users with each other uses pilled.net, which is overrun with extremist QAnon content.
- In November, Bannon said, “We're taking over the Republican Party through the precinct committee strategy. We're taking over all the elections.”
- Just days ago, Bannon hyped the “hyper-locality” approach as a way to gin up a “populist revolt.”
With Trump now joining Bannon to endorse this plan, more people stand to be funneled to this extremist content.