On the populist right, the late Andrew Breitbart, a man regarded as an influential hero, is best remembered for these words: “Politics is downstream from culture.” Byron York wrote in the Washington Examiner that teaching that lesson was “by far the most important thing he did.” He quoted Breitbart:
The people who have money, every four years at the last possible second, are told, “You need to give millions of dollars, because these four counties in Ohio are going to determine the election.” I am saying, why didn’t we invest 20 years ago in a movie studio in Hollywood, why didn’t we invest in creating television shows, why didn’t we create institutions that would reflect and affirm that which is good about America?
Now Steve Bannon leads the institution that Andrew Breitbart created. Prior to Donald Trump’s rise, he deliberately positioned Breitbart News as a platform for the alt-right. As National Review ran the artful prose of Kevin D. Williamson and the Weekly Standard published the incisive cultural criticism of Andrew Ferguson, Bannon and Breitbart worked to elevate Milo Yiannopolous to cultural prominence.
Later, during the height of the Republican primaries, #NeverTrump conservatives insisted that stopping Trump was important for the sake of U.S. culture.
As David French put it:
The true battle for our country isn’t political, it’s cultural and spiritual. In an era where fidelity and integrity are in increasingly short supply—with the breakdown of faith and family the chief factors in the struggles among America’s most vulnerable citizens—how can I responsibly cast a vote to give one of the nation’s foremost cultural platforms to a man who has openly, loudly, and unrepentantly bragged of his adulterous sexual conquests?
How can I support a man who demonstrates such a breathtaking level of malice and cruelty in his treatment of fellow citizens? Our nation can survive lost elections, but over the long term it cannot survive a decayed culture. And by God I won’t vote for a man who takes a wrecking ball to the core values I hold dear.
But Breitbart championed Trump’s reality-TV candidacy, and Bannon took a break from leading the website to join the vulgar campaign and then the Trump administration.