2020 Election, General, Politics

Whither American Nationalism Now?

As we move on after the wreckage of the Trump administration, this call to courage from Theodore Roosevelt is both sobering and hopeful.  Nationalists made a mistake in putting their hopes in Donald Trump.  He damaged the nationalist brand, but not irreparably. The occasional successes of the last four years point the way to repairing the damage and rebuilding it on a positive policy platform. 

First, we have to accept the reality of the damage. True American nationalism seeks to build a common American identity across cultural and other boundaries. Instead, Donald Trump associated it an ugly white ethnic nationalism that fed identity politics, rather than fighting it.  A movement to create a progressive conservatism that strengthened America and the middle class instead enacted a major tax cut that benefited globalist corporations without requiring any corresponding investment in the nation. (see this previous post). Worse, it ended, not with a celebration of American culture and symbols, but with a sickening attack on the Capitol building, one of the citadels of American freedom itself.

However, there are unmistakable signs of success amidst these failures. The blue wave anticipated by Democrats never really materialized.  As this article illustrates, Trump’s nationalist trade and immigration policies were popular not only with white voters, but also minority voters. The shift towards a realist foreign policy and the withdrawals from Afghanistan and the Middle East caused heartburn among mainstream neocons and liberal hegemonists, but fulfilled Trump’s major foreign policy promises. All of this forced candidate Biden to talk about buying American, creating good jobs and getting tough on China. Thus, while Trump’s rhetoric often failed to meet the reality, there were still solid accomplishments.

American nationalists now need to hold President Biden and Vice-President Harris accountable for results that matches their rhetoric. Biden’s Democratic Party is still led by a Senate majority leader that represents Wall Street and a Vice President and Speaker of the House from the headquarters of Silicon Valley and Big Tech. Their goal of union-wage level jobs is commendable, but will be worthless if companies shift production to China and elsewhere overseas as they did during the Obama Administration. Calls for unity are nice, but are hypocritical if they result in a new woke identity politics that essentially is a left-wing echo of Trump’s ethnic nationalism.

In order to recover from this setback, American nationalists need to highlight our common concerns by building coalitions across party and other boundaries. If Biden pursues policies that really create secure good-paying jobs that strengthen America, we should cheer for and support such policies.  We also should remember the old maxim that all politics is local and start to build grass-roots organizations at the city, county and local level. Finally, we should avoid social issues so long as tolerance is observed on both sides.  

TR’s life was a study in indomitable courage against seemingly insurmountable odds, whether political, intellectual or military.  He experienced numerous failures as well as historic successes. As fellow American nationalists, we are called to pick ourselves up and continue the fight for a strong America and the American Dream for all.    

Coronavirus, Domestic Policy

Strength Through Resilience

A nation-state’ s power has traditionally been measured by the size of its military and economy.  As the attached article points out, the COVID-19 pandemic highlights a new and crucial source of national power – a nation’s resilience.  Resilience is defined as the ability to sustain and adapt to a systemic shock, or, as the old Timex watch commercial put it, the ability to take a licking and keep on ticking.  It is based on adequate infrastructure and governmental legitimacy more than material resources. 

Resiliency, however, comes in many forms.  China’s centralized communitarian culture allowed it to bounce back faster from the pandemic, but only by using the same totalitarian governmental repression that caused the crisis in the first place. In contrast, the individualistic culture of America hobbled our ability to control the spread after it arrived, but our decentralized federalist system gave state and local leaders the flexibility to create the necessary controls when the federal government failed to provide leadership.  Our freedom to innovate also helped foster development of reliable treatments and vaccines faster than China. 

At the same time, the weaknesses exposed by the pandemic must be addressed, especially those in our manufacturing capacity and health infrastructure.  By prioritizing efficiency over resiliency in our economy, we ended up dangerously dependent on China and other governments for vital materials, and not just in the medical field. The article touts strong alliances as a solution, but they cannot replace onshore local capacity in a crisis. Building national vigor means identifying and protecting resources we need to survive a future shock, whether it be from a disease, cyberattack, or climate change.

Theodore Roosevelt advocated “the strenuous life” of exercise and outdoor activity as a way of achieving personal resilience.  Both require short- term sacrifice and effort to build the stamina necessary to meet future challenges.  Similarly, we Americans will need to be willing to pay higher prices for domestically-produced goods or higher taxes in order to create the national resilience to remain a great power and a shining example of freedom. The immediate pain will be well worth it in the long run.

https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2020/11/pandemic-revealing-new-form-national-power/170061/

2020 Election, Politics

An American Nationalist Voting Index – Character and Final Score

This is part of a series examining the issues in the presidential election. To see other articles in the series. click on the “2020 Elections” link on the Home page.

Final Score

Issues (linked to past articles)BidenTrump
Governmental Reform0-1
Foreign Policy-2.5+1.5
Antitrust & Trade Regulation-.5+2.0
Conservation & the Environment+.5-.5
A Strong America-1.5-1.0
Character(0*2)=0(-3*2)=-6
FINAL SCORE-4.0-5.0

The American presidency is unique in the western world because it combines two functions of government generally separated in other countries – chief of state and chief of government. The chief of state is a unifying figure, often a king or queen, that symbolizes the history and values of the nation. In short, he or she symbolizes its character.  In contrast, the chief of government is usually a prime minister elected through a partisan democratic process and tasked with advocating and implementing certain public policies. Theodore Roosevelt filled both roles as well as any President in history precisely because he had a strong and intelligent character.

Up to now, this series has concentrated on the policies an American nationalist president should pursue; i.e, his role as prime minister. However, the chief of state role is equally important.  An American president who cannot symbolize the nation and its character cannot really be said to be nationalist.  Thus, the score for this role will be doubled to reflect this importance.

Which brings us to Donald Trump.  History may conclude that Trump’s most important accomplishment was winning the 2016 election and shattering the ossified political culture that existed over the previous generation. In one fell swoop, Trump proved the intellectual and political bankruptcy of the foreign policy of liberal hegemony and the domestic policy of small government conservatism.  He had a unique opportunity to develop a new political coalition around a nationalist agenda. Instead, he relied on a self-centered, divisive and authoritarian appeal that left American politics coarser and thus weakened our national character. His attempt to blackmail the Ukrainian government to dig up dirt on Biden justified impeachment (see my post here). His juvenile insults of his opponents reflected his own weakness as a democratic leader, not theirs (see this post).  He seemed to have utter contempt for the basics of American constitutional democracy. Finally, his erratic leadership on the coronavirus pandemic and recent dangerous statements about the efficacy of masks abdicated the chief of state’s role to soothe the nation and unify it to fight a common enemy.  These are just some of the ways Donald Trump has shown his complete inability to serve as an American chief of state.  Roosevelt would have been disgusted and horrified by such a lack of character in a President.  He thus deserves the worst score of -3, which, after doubling, becomes a -6. 

Biden comes off better only in comparison to Trump.   His years in the Senate and then the Vice-Presidency have given him both an appreciation of American democracy and the negotiating skills necessary to navigate the system successfully.  He is not a left-wing woke firebrand, though the same cannot be said of his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris. Her presence on the ticket raises the issue of how often a Biden-Harris Administration would descend into divisive identity politics.  Finally, Biden has definitely shown his age on the campaign trail and in the debates. Does he have the energy and the will to face down the firebrands in Congress or his own appointees (as TR did) and unite the country, or will he be simply a figurehead?  These uncertainties cannot support anything but a zero for Biden, and two times zero is still zero.

As the negative scores above show, we are faced with the sad fact that, once again, there is no true American nationalist running for President on a major party ticket this year.   Even if you exclude the character score, Trump only earns a net +1 for his policy accomplishments.   American nationalists are thus left with the agony of choosing the least globalist candidate in the race.

A Personal Decision

Given these scores, I cannot recommend or endorse either candidate in this election.  I admit that a small disagreement on the scores on any issue could tip the scales significantly either way.  However, Roosevelt’s comment about the importance of national character haunts me.   The decision comes down to whether Trump’s character and behavior best represents the American character.  I strongly believe it does not.

It is a bitter pill to swallow, but I will be voting for Biden in today’s election.  His administration will require strong oversight to control his globalist tendencies and thus I will be voting Republican for Congress. It is especially important that the Senate remain Republican since its confirmation powers over treaties and presidential appointments give it key powers in the foreign policy arena.   After this election is over, American nationalists will have the difficult task of rescuing the nationalist brand from the damage Trump has done to it and building for the 2022 and 2024 elections.

Go vote, and God bless America!