The Rise of the Foreign Policy Voter

Nobody cares about foreign policy” is a truism within the larger political community. It is thought to be nearly a nonissue when people go to vote.

But this is an assumption that bears examining.

The 2020 election is essentially a referendum on two different foreign policies: globalism vs. patriotism.

Donald Trump inaugurated his campaign in June 2015 with a speech that covered a lot of ground. The media focused on just one statement: Mexico isn’t sending their best. 

Immigration was the lynchpin of those first couple weeks of the campaign for the Republican nomination. Fortunes (political and economic) were made and lost on either side of the argument. Back when Trump was but a humble frontrunner in the Republican primaries of 2016, he had put that issue front and center on the agenda.

Can one truly call immigration a matter of domestic policy? It is, after all, an international affair by definition. One struggles to justify the common assumption that nobody cares—considering both the Left and Right (even the NeverTrumpers) had a great deal to say about the matter. The debate has evolved into questions of foreign aid (a matter strictly about foreign policy) and the eligibility of Mexico as a safe third country—the sort of definition quibbled about in gilded meeting rooms at the UN in Geneva. It focused on building a wall—on the border between two sovereign countries.

Once candidate Trump became the Republican nominee, he was faced with Hillary Clinton—a former secretary of state, U.S. senator, and first lady, and the embodiment of the “blob,” as President Obama had denominated America’s foreign policy establishment. Trump never hammered her on Hillarycare, the 1993 version of the Democratic Party’s ambition to reform American healthcare. Why focus on such historical footnotes when one can talk about her failed intervention in Libya (“We came, we saw, he died,” she quipped about Colonel Gaddafi), the orgy of corruption in Haiti’s earthquake relief effort, and her forced abandonment of the questionable Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal instead? 

The Democrats may quibble about Trump’s tax plans, COVID-19 results, his attempt to undo Obamacare, or any other number of domestic matters, but the fact remains: foreign policy is at the center of this administration’s real and lasting record of accomplishments. 

Pulling out of the Iran deal, standing up to China, any number of trade issues, NATO, North Korea, ISIS, and Israel—Trump’s record of putting “America First” is a clear matter of international relations. The first Trump term has been dominated by a debate about American relations with Moscow, hardly a kitchen table issue in the heartland.

When an American votes for Trump, it is chiefly a vote against the “blob,” personified by Joe Biden, who for nearly 50 years has been a key player in neoliberalism and the China giveaway game. 

Whatever it is they think America’s role in the world is, it is distinct from the massive money sink that the Departments of Defense and State have pushed us into in Iraq and Afghanistan. Whether it is the fat, contented Europeans living off of American largesse with their generous welfare states or the unrelenting demands of Middle Eastern kingdoms fighting proxy wars among themselves, there is no end to the demands the world continually makes on America—with all too willing participation of the D.C. lobbyist set and unenforced Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) regulations. 

Is it prejudiced to think that taking away government money from foreign adventures—the never-ending pageant of monsters to destroy—should come before the draining of government largesse to America’s very own down and out? 

The answer is moot. American voters spoke in 2016 against the sellout trade deals that hollowed out the American economy and its heartland (tellingly renamed the “Rust Belt” by coastal elites) and swelled the numbers of people on Medicaid—the poor man’s healthcare plan. They comprehend completely where the Chinese Wuhan virus originated, and they name it accordingly.

Why, indeed, should America subsidize the rich European welfare states to the detriment of its own citizens? Why should America ship even more jobs to China? What, exactly, was the benefit of Obama’s Syrian, Yemeni, and Libyan wars to the average citizen in the heartland? Not to mention the two-decades-old war in Afghanistan. The blob and the Biden-Harris ticket of unadulterated globalism has no good answers to these questions. 

Through the lens of foreign policy, a political discipline that considers itself above “political” considerations, President Obama had one thing right—America’s strategic interests in this century lie mainly in the Asian and Oceanic continents. The fight for the Eurasian world-island is the locus of the 21st century struggle for primacy in world affairs. Trump fully realizes this as he has made clear to China—first and foremost,TikTok.

Joe Biden, President Obama’s vice president, along with his entire political party, consider President Trump’s record to be deplorable. Nancy Pelosi, the unofficial head of the Democrats since 2016, managed to flip the House of Representatives by focusing on healthcare. 

Demented Biden now has the audacity to select a less than “loyal” former bad cop and attorney general, Kamala Harris, to join him and act as a potential stand-in president, given his senility. Really? 

The qualification being she is what? A professional phony? She is not even African American. Her mother is from the Brahmin caste in India (which considers lower classes untouchable), and her father (whose family owned slaves) hails from Jamaica.

Kamala Harris is totally unqualified to be a heartbeat away from the Oval Office. She lied repeatedly in her career and is so ambitious as to do anything to promote her own advancement. It is apparent to all who know her that she exhibits one ideology: whatever is best for herself.

Bending to the wind, she is anxious to confiscate guns, curtail religious freedom, and cancel all private health insurance, while applauding the rioters on the streets and BLM. Can Biden himself even trust her? After all, she labelled him a racist, a segregationist, and a sexual predator.

On foreign policy, she is the very embodiment of the blob and globalism. She knows zilch about actual foreign policy or defense. She got her start in politics as the girlfriend to California’s powerful Assembly speaker (later San Francisco’s mayor), Willie Brown. Her candidacy for president last year flamed out two months before the Iowa caucuses. So what she brings to the ticket is a complete mystery.

In Biden-Harris Land everything will revert back to the way it was, and America will be diminished: more cancel culture, more apologies, and more decline. That includes a foreign policy at complete variance from that proclaimed by President Trump. It won’t be America First but America Last.

 Winning in 2020 means bucking yet another major piece of received or outdated conventional wisdom: America’s voters do care, they care deeply, about foreign policy; they just think the blob’s contempt for their anti-interventionism and anti-globalism is as deplorable as the blob thinks they are. 

About Theodore Roosevelt Malloch

Theodore Roosevelt Malloch is a scholar, diplomat, and strategist who was active in the Trump campaign in 2016.

Photo: Getty Images

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