The mark of a good grasp of politics circa 2017 is the understanding that the ideological battle is not between principled conservatives and social justice seeking leftists but between nationalists and globalists. In America, this ideological battle is waged by the following belligerents: the Democrats, social justice warriors, Republican establishment, the media and academia on the side of globalism; the Dissident Right, President Trump and his supporters on the side of nationalism.
The fault line was clearly on display this week, as President Trump, former presidents Obama and Bush, and Senator John McCain all made comments which spoke to the divide. Consider the following quotes:
First, President Trump, during a keynote address at the Heritage Foundation:
We believe we should preserve our history, not tear it down. Now, they are trying to destroy statues of Christopher Columbus. What’s next? It has to be stopped; it’s heritage.
You understand that our glorious heritage is the foundation of everything we hope to achieve.
Senator John McCain, speaking at the Liberty Medal Ceremony in Philadelphia:
To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain “the last best hope of earth” for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.
We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.
Former President George W. Bush, speaking at an event in New York City:
We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism – forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America. We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade – forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.
We have seen the return of isolationist sentiments – forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places, where threats such as terrorism, infectious disease, criminal gangs and drug trafficking tend to emerge.
We should not be blind to the economic and social dislocations caused by globalization. People are hurting. They are angry. And, they are frustrated. We must hear them and help them. But we can’t wish globalization away, any more than we could wish away the agricultural revolution or the industrial revolution. One strength of free societies is their ability to adapt to economic and social disruptions.
Our identity as a nation – unlike many other nations – is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. Being an American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility…
This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed. And it means that the very identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation.
It is particularly interesting that both McCain and Bush specifically denounced ‘blood and soil’ as the determining factor of our nation, and Trump, while not necessarily making specific argument for Blood and Soil, nevertheless highlighted Christopher Columbus and his role in discovering the land which would end up becoming the United States.
It is an unmistakable fact that without the exploits of Columbus and the Europeans who followed, in particular the British, there would be no United States. The ‘high ideals and civic responsibility,’ which McCain and Bush both referenced, are a result of those exploits. Their foundations lie in the people and their culture which established the land as theirs.
According to Bush and McCain, merely embracing those ideals are the prerequisites to being American. If the Founding Fathers had taken that advice prior to the Revolution, they’d have been embracing American ideals all day long until they were blue in the face, but they would have been doing so from within the British Empire as colonials. Their mere embracing did not make them the earliest Americans. It wasn’t until, in the face of continued tyranny from the Crown, they decided to spill ‘blood’ for the sovereignty of the ‘soil’ on which they stood, that a nation was born. And it continues to the extent that their heritage is passed on from generation to generation.
Bush and McCain seem to believe that the identity of that nation known as the Unites States is not a narrowly defined Renegade Brit mentality buttressed by Greco-Roman philosophical and legal precepts. Instead it is identified more by nebulous universal ideals open to anyone and everyone.
It is here we focus on McCain and his effusive praise for those globalist ideals. His praise is founded more on the idea that America is the ‘custodian’ of these ideals, the one dominant global power. He sees America and her might as little more than a tool to be used hammering any and all disagreeable nail which happens to pop up on the world stage.
McCain’s idea of proper foreign policy for America is exemplified by his 2014 comments on the situation in Crimea. He remarked:
We are all Ukrainians in the respect that we have a sovereign nation that is again with international boundaries… that is again being taken in as part of Russia. That is not acceptable to an America that stands up for the rights of human beings. We are Georgians. And we are Ukrainians.
In a sense he is right. Owing to 75 years of globalist foreign policy, we have a situation in which the vast majority of Western Europe is essentially allied against Russia via NATO, backed by American dollars and American military might. While Ukraine is not officially a member of NATO, its adversarial stance against Russia has earned it some rhetorical sanctuary under the American tent of influence. We are all Ukrainians because if they are attacked, our alliance is attacked. To maintain the leadership McCain so values in this realm, American lives are to be sacrificed.
Many of McCain’s fellow Americans are coming to see things a bit differently, wondering why the affairs of the Ukrainians, Russians, or indeed Syrians and Iraqis necessitate Americans being sent halfway around the world to die. And they’d be right to wonder, considering that when it comes to the sovereignty of those pieces of land, half a world away, the likes of McCain and Bush are lightning fast to advocate risking American lives in their defense. Yet, when it comes to the American piece of land, we are suddenly told that the soil is not the identity of the nation. Ukrainian borders are sacred. American borders aren’t.
The media reaction to the Bush and McCain comments was instructive in the context of the globalist and nationalist ideological battle. As I outlined at the start, the GOP establishment, of which McCain and Bush are a part, is allied with the mainstream press on the side of globalism. As such, the media was in full support of Bush and McCain.
CNN in particular was gushing over McCain’s comments, declaring that everyone HAD to read his speech as though it was the latest entry into the pantheon of great American political speeches. The ever odious Chris Cillizza made the typically modern declaration that merely making a left leaning argument is the same thing as making a convincing, devastatingly thorough argument.
As for Bush, anyone with a tangential appreciation of American politics over the last decade or so understands the degree to which the 43rd president was made into a laughing stock, and the butt of jokes. Now his words are held high as though sacred.
In McCain’s case, the irony is that this is the same John McCain who was painted out by the media to be a dangerous, dark figure in 2008, owing to the same plans for global domination though endless wars which are now praised because the anti-globalist Russians are now more prominently in the crosshairs. This is the same John McCain who CNN bashed as being ‘intellectually shallow.’ This apparent mental midget is now being recast as a Titan of the Senate, a wise sage with an independent streak as per the New York Times.
Of course, the reason for the about face is that McCain once sought the Presidency and therefore found himself in opposition to Barack Obama, the media’s darling. Today, he stands against President Trump, put out as the ultimate evil according to the press.
But it is more than this. Back in 2008, the argument was not about globalism versus nationalism, but rather who among the elite was to benefit the most from the spoils of globalism, at the expense of the rest of the country. Under McCain, it would have been the military industrial complex and multinational corporations reaping the most benefit. Under Obama, it was those groups, in addition to the Media–Academia Complex, and a burgeoning Grievance Industry.
In 2016, Trump rode a wave of nationalist sentiment, fueled by the disdain the public had for distant, out of touch bureaucrats further extending their reach, and as well for their media sycophants who pathologized any and dissent to the globalist march forward.
This pathologizing was evident in Bush’s remarks, in which he castigated bigotry, which he described as ‘blasphemy’ against the ‘American creed.’ When sent through the Globalist Translator, the statement says that bigotry (defined in 2017 as the failure to acquiesce to the demands of any non-white, non-male, non-Christian, or non-heterosexual) is an affront to the deity that is Globalism. Said differently, to disseminate Ugly Truths is to commit a mortal sin. Bush’s words can then be seen as an excommunication of Trumpism from the Church of the Globalist Niceities and Political Correctness.
That said, Trump has done just fine in the wilderness. His first nine months have seen the death of TPP, a ‘free trade’ deal which would have continued in the NAFTA tradition of harming domestic industry for the benefit of foreign industry. It saw the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, which would have had similar deleterious effects on domestic industry. It saw concrete steps taken to properly secure the border, with immigration agencies emboldened to actually do their jobs and prototypes for a border wall under construction. It saw the relative reduction in American warmongering, with Trump’s bark being much larger than his bite, to the dismay of Johm McCain. In short, vast swaths of the legacy of the Bush and Obama administrations have come undone, or are on the way to being undone.
And thus, the game has changed from an intra-squad squabble between the separate Globalist factions to a battle for all the marbles with a now vibrant opposition, represented by Trump. And as with McCain, the media has been dutiful in its praise for the likes of Ben Sasse, Mitt Romney, Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, and even Mitch McConnell, to name a few. Praise, because they had unkind words either for Trump, nationalism in general, or both. These individuals, who were once considered evil by default simply because of their identification as Republicans, finally gained heralding as true statesmen in their disavowal of the current President, and nationalism.
This dynamic is to be kept in mind as one considers the media reporting on Trump and his agenda vis-à-vis congress. For example, the current narrative when it comes to the tiffs the President has had with some of the aforementioned names is that he is shooting himself in the foot because he needs these individuals to pass legislation. This was most evident during the Corker episode.
The truth is that the squabbles reveal that what I outlined at the start – that the Repbulcan party, particularly the establishment wing – is not aligned with Trump when it comes to the Globalist vs Nationalist debate. In this sense, Trump does not truly have a majority in both chambers of Congress, such that the absence of major legislation is somehow a failure. The reality is that, at least in the Senate, Trump has at most about 48 votes on any given piece of Trump proposed legislation. There are generally at least 3 moderate (globalist) Republicans who will deny Trump real headway on getting the Trump agenda through legislation.
This is why the likes of Steve Bannon have come out swinging in recent weeks, declaring war on the GOP establishment as it pertains to the 2018 midterm elections, on behalf of Trump. His pledge to run primary candidates against Republicans who are insufficiently for, or outright against the Trump, nationalist agenda has been seen as potentially damaging to the Republican party.
This analysis only makes sense to those with an inadequate understanding of the true political demarcations afoot. People like Bannon correctly understand that Republicans like Flake, Sasse and McCain might as well be Democrats, given their opposition to the fundamental changes that would be required to advance the Trump agenda. So they must be replaced by ‘Trump Republicans.’
At an impromptu joint press conference with Trump and McConnell at the beginning of the week, the former spewed the orthodoxy of the globalist establishment, which was to say that doing his job to keep a Republican majority meant putting forth candidates which could actually win in a general election Translated, this means candidates who seek to be all things to all people, who never offend, always toe the line, espousing pretty lies and condemning ugly truths.
The bottom line for McConnell is that his way is looking to be the losing way, as in truth, it has been for decades. The difference now is that the elites are finally beginning to feel the losses which before only accrued to the masses. Trump’s election to date is the largest such loss. But more are seemingly on the horizon. Jeff Flake looks to be in trouble. McConnell himself enjoys a rock bottom approval rating in Kentucky of 18%. Bob Corker, perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, isn’t even going to bother running to hold on to his Senate seat next year. Luther Strange, the McConnell choice in the Alabama special election was defeated by Roy Moore, the Bannonite selection.
In Europe, the forces of nationalism have been boosted this week by an election win in Austria, and the turmoil in Spain. George Soros announced that he is committing $18 billion in fresh capital to his Open Society project. And looking to the future, Generation Z, mischievously referred to as Generation Zyklon by the right wing Internet troll brigade, is shaping up to be the most right leaning generation in decades.
All of this puts those wails made this week by the old guard of McCain, Bush and Obama in context. Their fervent defense of the tired, old order, is a testament to the desperation they must feel.
The reinforcements are necessary, because they’re losing.