It’s befitting of our special times that both sides in a heated argument are dumb enough to miss the point. This column could feature about 50 subjects following that opening sentence. But this particular instance refers to the entire world and how we go about hating it. That’s special because it encompasses everything.
The debate over nationalism versus globalism is a markedly fatuous argument that actually explains how we got here pretty well. Pitch the assumption America is nothing special pitched against the notion that same country too special to be threatened by cheaper junk made in contemporary sweatshops. That’s not what we mean by the good old days.
Conflating a strong government with a swell America is actually more rotten than anything Barack Obama pimped, as he didn’t bother to pretend he was fond of this place. Presuming the president will grant jobs taken by scheming foreign powers is the new thing you can’t argue. Do you not want work, pinko? It’s like liberals claiming you hate the arts for believing the government shouldn’t subsidize them. I don’t find it more fun having occasionally voted for the same candidates as those now explaining why we’re unmutual.
I dream of returning to a world where Sean Hannity isn’t the president’s intellectual ally. Way back in 2016, Washington was a bully like every other capital because the White House was centralizing to get in line with the rest of the stupid world. The election meant there was to be no more arrogance accompanying apologies for our nation’s existence. But herpes was replaced by syphilis. Nothing got better as suspicion of international free markets took hold. Shrewd Americans are supposed to sucker other countries during negotiations. Instead, we let a president who isn’t very good at it despite boasts to the contrary do the non-work on our behalf. When did we get so lazy?
Those who loathe globalism would struggle to define it. They’re too busy cussing about today’s trading partner-turned-enemy to worry about explaining just why exchanging products with anyone willing to deal is thinning their wallets. In the tradition of thinking the only choices were Jeb or a titan who couldn’t profit owning slot machines, Trump fans conflate Obama’s perverse view that America is just one random country with Breitbart-style conspiracies about unfettered commerce harming our factories. Disregard the snarling about Hebrews and the Alex Jonesian tone to focus on how sad the notion that worldwide financial interaction will doom us. Some Americans are only willing to compete intramurally.
Treating the ability to buy and sell merchandise anywhere on Earth as the source of villainy is sure to spur prosperity. Any pecuniary soothsayer who says otherwise is a fraud. You’re far too concerned with followup questions when you should be compiling a list of countries whose goods we should incinerate. Never mind that they’re already purchased, as the taint of foreign influence can infect erstwhile patriotic American toilers. Next thing you know, there’ll be ethnic stalls at the food court, and only Reds eat with sticks.
But maybe inferior countries don’t need to be demonized. If Mexico’s really that lame, we shouldn’t have to fear trading with them. In fact, their economy might improve enough to convince people to stay, which would reduce the need for a wall that’s never getting built.
The same government that’s shoved around businesses is going to make them productive as an apology. Forget producing anything worthwhile: the government doesn’t need to bother with locating purchasers. Or just blame the existence of imports. Anger may be justified. But that doesn’t mean the angry know what caused the boiling or how to reduce heat.
As with so many things in these exquisitely preposterous times, the reaction to the initial failure is often as problematic. Take responding to the thoroughly horrific Obama presidency with someone who proves instinct won’t always steer you in the right direction. A leader who thinks America’s strength stems from vigorous protectionism may not have studied history carefully, if “carefully” means “for a second.” The same guy with distorted views of what embodies wealth and class may not offer anything more than superficial assistance. That black glass is so sleek that the owner must be rich.
A truly strong America doesn’t need trade barriers to make nice things. The whole point is being able to compete without them. Doesn’t Trump think we can do that? Challenge his manhood so his insecurities cause him to respond. A laid-back vibe should also be applied to an excessively active government that’s proven it’s to commerce what Shia LaBeouf is to the Oscars. Instead, your president will be punishing companies for leaving, which really is the best way to inspire loyalty.
Both twisted philosophies revolve around touting meager gains and expecting us to never ask about the costs. And adherents of both would claim they’re not philosophies. Skittish replies to normal conditions always leads to harebrained reflexes that aren’t worth the price. From thinking other countries are better than us to thinking other countries don’t deserve to engage in commerce with us, progress can take many unique forms.