Stop giving fascists a platform to debate. It's not a joke. The idea that they'll publicly embarrass themselves in front of an unsympathetic audience is a fantasy that wildly misunderstands the way human psychology works. Publicly debating them is a recruiting mechanism.
Let me put this another way: the alt-right, and Bannon in particular, uses the same recruiting techniques as cults. Anyone familiar with how cults go about indoctrinating new members will recognise them. Mainstreaming and making extreme ideas palatable is a huge goal of cults.
Most people are aware that cults take advantage of the emotionally vulnerable. Another group who is just as ideal for recruitment? People who are disillusioned with the status quo. Sound familiar? It should. Recruiters are literally trained to make their ideas sound appealing.
Among cult recruitment techniques that the alt-right has appropriated is thought reform. They identify their mark's needs, frustrations, and fears, and play to them. One of the ways they do that is by "mainstreaming", or making ideas seem reasonable, low pressure, and benign.
This is where debate comes in. Debating members of the alt-right is part of their goal of "mainstreaming". They're not going to come out in debate with extreme ideology. What they do is present their beliefs in a way that appeals to those frustrated with the political status quo.
That debate is literally intended to "soften people up" for recruitment. And I know people want to believe others will see through the manipulation, but unfortunately, human psychology tells us otherwise. Cults know this. The alt-right knows this. We have to accept it.
And I know some people will try to argue with me about this, so I can only say: research cults and their recruitment methods. They, like members of the alt-right, are very well trained to deal with a skeptical audience. They want to manipulate you into debating them.
Since I have people mentioning the numbers were wrong and Bannon lost, here's what's important to remember: he's not there to win the debate. If you, or someone you know, has experienced a religious or ideological conversion, it doesn't happen in a single night. It's incremental.
The goal is never about "winning" the debate. It's about getting you to consider a point, concede on another, engage with the ideology. That's what I mean about "softening people up". The goal is to normalize it to you.
My grandfather does this by talking about his "community". They're all taken care of, he'd say. Everyone is fed. No one suffers. We support each other. We're like a village. He didn't talk about how his members gave all their cash to the cult. That they disconnected from family.
The real stuff comes much, much later when you're already entrenched in the ideology. When you've already become sympathetic. Because by then, it feels normal.