From the very beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency, his critics have complained, “This is not normal!” At some point, it may dawn on them just what that means.
The president of the Eurasia Group, Ian Bremmer, and the editor-in-chief of The Economist, Zanny Minton Beddoes, sat down to discuss Trump’s speech at the United Nations with Charlie Rose.
During the discussion, Beddoes wondered:
There are two questions: does the world move on sufficiently that even after [the Trump Administration] you can go back to the status quo ex ante? And, secondly, does America want to do that?
Beddoes and Bremmer both admitted something that everyone knows: there is a deep disconnect between the democratic globalists who comprise America’s foreign policy elite and the American voters they purportedly serve. Apparently, the American foreign-policy establishment believes that once Trump is gone, things will go back to the way things were.
But every Trump voter understands that there can be no going back. Thankfully, Trump has changed things forever—or at least for a very long time to come.
America’s elite assumes that the U.S. role in the world has remained the same since the end of the Cold War. Thus, the democratic globalists continuously prostrate themselves before the false gods of the “Liberal International Order” they serve. It explains why foreign policy elites insist upon Americans paying any price and bearing any burden to maintain the Liberal International Order—even as that order no longer necessarily serves American interests.
What the democratic globalists fail to recognize is that the American progenitors of the Liberal International Order never envisaged the United States maintaining an international system that ceased to protect Americans and their national interests. Why would they? Could you imagine China supporting an international system that made them weaker and poorer? Only America’s current elite do that.
The international order America built is harming Americans. U.S. preeminence is eroding while other states, such as China, are on the ascendance. China’s economy is set to overtake America’s (in GDP terms) in a few years, and Beijing is exerting greater influence globally. China’s population is vastly larger than ours and their school system is better at educating the workers of tomorrow. This didn’t happen in a vacuum and it isn’t just a natural shift.
The decline of America’s economic and military vitality is the direct result of bad decisions made by our elite over a period of some 30 years. Further, these trends will only be reversed by a fundamental shift in the way that American statesmen view America’s role in the world. This will take years.
In those forgoing 30 years, the democratic globalists championed open borders anarchy and the free trade agreements that have hobbled and hollowed out America’s middle class. The elite benefited financially from these agreements. They soothed themselves that “free trade” was best for the average American because Americans would enjoy lower prices on consumer goods (as if consumption was all that mattered).
As soon as globalism blasted through America’s trade barriers and borders, the elite got wealthy and the middle class was deprived of opportunity. Who needs cheap televisions if there are no jobs? Further, those middle-class Americans who were fortunate enough to find employment have not received a pay raise in years, nor have they been able to save their money. We are a debtor nation because of the elite!
The democratic globalists either didn’t know or didn’t care that without economic vitality, the United States could never maintain its massive military capabilities over time. The linkage between a strong economy and powerful military is what James Mattis warned former President Barack Obama about in 2010. Yet even Mattis failed to recognize how America’s strategic position as the head of the liberal international order has been diminished by the short-sighted decisions of our elite.
America’s democratic globalists essentially redistributed America’s jobs (and future) to the Chinese and other developing states. The developing world is doing better today and America is doing worse because of these actions.
Then came the foreign policy missteps of the last 30 years. The elite squandered America’s military might in wasteful “humanitarian wars” from the Balkans to the Middle East. The democratic globalists are utopians by nature and they believed they could “spread democracy” through military force. They were wrong. Their errors cost the American people dearly. More damningly, the democratic globalists persist in advocating for more humanitarian wars, which begs the question: how is this in America’s interest?
So, is it any wonder that the American voters aren’t interested in returning to the status quo ex ante? Donald Trump’s presidency is a much-needed revival of “principled realism, rooted in shared goals, interests, and values.”
Trumpism is not about preserving the elite. It’s about protecting average Americans who cannot afford to go on as we have these past three decades. If Trump sticks to these nationalist-populist themes, he will not only win reelection but save this country from returning to a self-destructive status quo.
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