It has been clear for some time that the crumbling economic trajectory of middle income Americans, uncontrolled floods of illegal and legal immigration, and the devastating effects of trans-national, one-sided trade deals that have ransacked Middle America, were going to be the driving forces for the 2016 elections.
Many commentators, including myself, have written extensively on this convergence of events and the political fallout we have witnessed for decades now (most recently here).
Regardless of what you think of them politically, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, each in their own way, are the reactions to this upheaval, not the cause.
The nub of this election, at least subliminally, is this:
What will America look like a generation from now? Do we want it to look like the old world order that we have avoided becoming part of for the last three centuries?
Or do we choose the America that has marked the assent of human dignity and individual freedom in the new world through ordered, constitutional government?
That’s the question everyone seems to be dancing around in an attempt to present themselves as finessed and less dangerous to the boiling mad electorate. But cloistered Washington should make no mistake, the middle of productive America is mad, getting madder, and all with good reason. The only surprise is that it has taken so long.
Long time Washington observer and analyst, Richard Falknor of the Blue Ridge Forum, sums this angst up succinctly:
It is the titanic struggle of perspective – globalism vs nationalism – and many conservatives have become confused and lost about what conservatism even means.
Which brings me to a public confession. If I ever was one, I hereby resign my position as an internationalist – a globalist. I’m a constitutional conservative; an old Reaganite. I’m an honest to goodness free trader and a “real” capitalist. I believe American foreign policy must first and foremost be in our self-interest. Especially when it comes to using force.
Yes, I admit it, I’m an American nationalist.
I am politically, economically and emotionally interested in what’s best for this country first – believing that in serving American self-interest, we actually help other nations and the world the most. We add, not subtract from the whole.
Even more urgently, this self-interested nationalism has historically allowed the United States to become the primary transmission belt of the Judeo-Christian ethos that has saved the world from totalitarian darkness, prospering humanity intellectually and economically; and writing as a Christian, supplied the wealth and energy that has promoted and distributed the Gospel message of individual salvation and hope.
All of those concepts are at war with galloping growth of “crony capitalism,” “managed economies,” and the group dementia that has taken root in the ruling class that has dominated big, trans-national businesses, politicians and religious leaders in the United States for several decades.
Call it internationalism or globalism, there is no greater threat to the American way of life.
I’m glad this discussion is happening, even if it is a buried underneath the mess of this election cycle. It is time for a focused debate about America – and whether she can even exist within an international system swiftly being erected (especially as presented in the new Trans Pacific Partnership, as one example); one that promotes in a larger sense everything that is antithetical to the American experiment in human freedom. Religious freedom. Freedom of thought, and speech. Economic freedom. Self-determination.
This isn’t an argument about isolationism; it’s not jingoistic; nor is it chauvinistic.
It’s an argument about whether we will define or redefine ourselves and our God-given freedoms; whether we will preserve or dismantle the last, best hope of mankind.