As Donald Trump takes the reins and we all prepare for the next four years, the need to translate rhetoric into reality comes to the fore. Trump spent the campaign repeating a phrase that horrified the elites – especially the foreign policy Establishment – even adopting it as his official campaign theme: “America first.”
The elites were aghast because the phrase evokes the legacy of the biggest anti-interventionist movement in American history: the America First Committee, a coalition of conservative businessmen and progressive activists (including the socialist Norman Thomas) who not only opposed US entry into World War II, but also pointed to the authoritarian tendencies of the Franklin Roosevelt administration, which they feared would be exacerbated in wartime – as indeed they were.
Smeared by pro-war liberals and their Communist party allies as “Nazi sympathizers” — in the same way antiwar activists were later accused of being pro-Communist, pro-Saddam Hussein, pro-terroriost, etc. – the AFC has not fared well with historians, who, for the most part, are Roosevelt partisans, and globalists in any case. The America Firsters are the original “isolationists” the War Party warns us about, “dangerous” subversives who saw that in the quest for a “world order,” Americans would lose their old republic.
Which is precisely what happened.
Whether consciously or not, Trump has revived this long-disdained trend in American politics, and, what’s more, he has won. So how does –or should – he translate this kind of rhetoric into reality?
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