What are we to make of Trump’s emphasis on ‘America First’?

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
President Donald Trump has said that “America First” summarizes the philosophy that will guide him as president.

There may be two-word slogans that capture a profound or wise thought. In my humble opinion, the Trumpian summary, “America First” is not one of them and seems especially suspicious coming from one who has clearly put his own interests – pecuniary, sexual, and especially ego-feeding – ahead of most other considerations.

But President Donald Trump has often said — and said again several times in his barely coherent, tone-deaf, self-promoting inaugural address — that “America First” summarizes the philosophy that will guide him as president, just as the two-word slogan was key to his rhetoric during the campaign.

I do agree that, as a rule of thumb and leaving room for any number of obvious exceptions, the leader of any nation ought to put the enlightened self-interests of his or her own nation – as a whole — ahead of the interests of any other nation. One could perhaps construct some examples where generosity, common humanity, or perhaps a conflict between narrow national interest versus global interests would complicate the calculation, since we not only inhabit our country but also our planet.

In the late 1930s and up to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, “America First” was the slogan of a group that wanted to keep the United States out of World War II. Minnesota’s own Charles Lindbergh was a leading spokesman for this group and this argument. History hasn’t treated Lucky Lindy kindly for this chapter of his public career, but nonetheless, the argument that decisions over the use of the U.S. military should be heavily guided by the national interest is close to unarguable.

Not that it’s always easy to calculate that interest clearly. I feel reasonably sure that President George W. Bush believed it was in America’s interest to invade Iraq in 2003. It didn’t turn out that way, at least as best we can tell from the vantage of 2017. President Barack Obama clearly thought it was a good idea to avoid entering whole-hog into any major new wars during his tenure. I think I agree but, when innocents were relentlessly slaughtered in Syria, for example, Obama was often criticized – by Trump among others — for not doing enough about it. Was Trump making an America First argument? If so, I don’t know what it was. Was he sloppily falling into the tendency to blame American presidents for everything bad that is happening in the world, without taking the trouble to do a cost-benefit analysis of America’s self-interest? Or was he just taking a four-legs-good, two-legs-bad cheap shot that everything bad in the world could and should be blamed on Obama and his erstwhile secretary of state?

Charles Lindbergh speaking at an America First Committee rally in Indiana.
Wikimedia Commons
Charles Lindbergh speaking at an America First Committee rally in Indiana.

And lastly (to keep this short) most of the policy decisions an American president makes can’t be subjected to the “America First” motto because most of the issues pit the interests of one group of Americans against those of another. If you take from the rich (through taxes) to help the poor (through social spending), or if you decide not to do that, you are favoring some Americans at the expense of others.

To me, Trump’s “America First” sloganeering is just one more evasion of leveling with us about what he will actually do as president, wedded to one more effort to feed the frustrations of his political base, who – in the absence of a coherent explanation of costs and benefits – are invited to believe that their grievances are easily explained by the belief that the pre-Trump leaders have been putting someone first other than them, the real Americans.

Comments (70)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/23/2017 - 10:24 am.

    America First

    What “America First” means depends entirely on how one answers two questions. First, “What is America?” And secondly, “What does it mean to be first?” The slogan “America First” was most famously used in the lead up to WW II when it was associated with Charles Lindbergh. Did, or in what sense, did the policy of isolationism advocated under the slogan “America First” really benefit American interests as commonly understood?

    I also like to think about how this policy would determine actions going forward. Donald Trump was an advocate of Brexit, and in general seems to support a policy of disunifying Europe. As a negotiator, he understands that the United States will be in a much better position to force better trade deals with a weakened Europe. Already, the British Prime Minister is headed to the United States hoping to begin negotiations with America that will fill the economic gap created by the withdrawal from Europe. What is the America First attitude toward negotiations with May? Recognizing May’s weakness, is it in our interest to force the most advantageous deal possible? Was weakening Britain’s trade position with respect to America Trump’s whole point in advocating Brexit?

  2. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/23/2017 - 11:04 am.

    Of course…

    Trump has never read a biography of Lindbergh, has no idea of the historical baggage of “America First” and is surrounded by cowardly sycophants who would never tell or press the point that those words are a bad idea and the need to find different ones that express the same sentiment are required.

    The “cowardly sycophant” principle was brilliantly demonstrated by Press Spokesperson Sean Spicer and his insistence on bogus/known false crowd numbers at the inauguration.

    Little Marco, Lying Ted, Low Energy Jeb and Crooked Hillary have been replaced by the Dishonest Media in the Trump “Gotta Have a Villian” world. And if lies are needed to set that villain up, no problem: it has worked perfectly so far.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 01/23/2017 - 11:28 am.

      “different ones that express the same sentiment”

      Try “American Exceptionalism” as an example of obfuscation of the “America First” slogan. They really come to the same thing, essentially. Oh, I know there’s all kinds of high-minded rhetoric that has been attached to the former in its justification, and the latter is rather raw, even crude, by comparison. But in the end, they aim at the same result.

      In the context of a pure opinion piece like this one, it is an easy matter to make one look bad while ignoring the other.

      There is not quite so much daylight between these two as some would have us believe.

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/23/2017 - 11:44 am.

        Agreed…

        Whenever I get in to the “American Exceptionalism” argument with my right wing friends I ask them to explain the clear inferiority of Swiss watches, German cars, Japanese electronics, etc… Of course those tangible items aren’t part of their equation. It’s the “were just better and smarter” feelings that they count.

        For now, agreeable lies are winning the day over disagreeable truths. One can only hope the weight of those lies brings their house down, sooner rather than later.

  3. Submitted by charles thompson on 01/23/2017 - 11:10 am.

    Talking Donald

    Since we’re talking Donald here are a few oddments. First he is/was far from New Yorks premier real estate developer, and second what was he doing on TV? I think it was a necessity for both his ego and his income. The halo effect – great businessman = great political leader helped get him elected, but may well be based on a false premise. I’m curious how he will disown his tax returns when they eventually see the light of day.

  4. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 01/23/2017 - 12:03 pm.

    who cares….

    I am still trying to figure out the “hope and change” slogan.

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 01/24/2017 - 10:28 am.

      You’ll Need to Talk

      to the Republican Congress about that,…

      since, over the past eight years,…

      they did their very dam__est to make sure that Americans were left hopeless,…

      and NOTHING that would help the average American could be changed.

      But never fear!

      You’re about to share in the absolute JOY of Republicans bringing THEIR version,…

      of “hope and change,” to the nation:

      Chaos in health care and trade,…

      devastating environmental degradation (who knew it could happen as fast as they’re going to make it happen?)…

      all the benefits of “Love Canal” brought to countless communities, nationwide,…

      predatory banking and investment policies that will clean your checking and retirement accounts RIGHT OUT,…

      while making sure the credit card system bleeds you dry with new fees and high interest rates,…

      .1% pockets getting padded at levels not seen since the 1920’s,…

      and an economic collapse which will make 2008 look like a gentle Spring shower,…

      compared to the snowstorm of “The Day After Tomorrow,”…

      but of course NONE of that will be THEIR fault,…

      just like Mr. Trump, they’re psychologically incapable of admitting they were wrong,…

      or taking responsibility for ANYTHING they’ve ever done no matter how wrong, even evil, it turns out to have been.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 01/24/2017 - 10:31 am.

      You might start by recalling the US was heading toward a second Great Depression and collapse of the financial sector at the beginning of Obama’s first term and job losses were over 700,000 per month.

      The second Great Depression didn’t happen. The economy recovered in the US faster than it did anywhere else in the world.

      Hope and change.

      • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 01/24/2017 - 10:57 am.

        You Needn’t Worry

        By the end of the Trump Administration,…

        our Republican friends will have managed to take care of that problem, too.

        It would almost appear they WANTED that new “Great Depression,”…

        (so, like Dishonest Donald, they could buy up massive amounts of property at fire sale prices?),…

        because they’re about to do everything in their power to take us there.

  5. Submitted by David Markle on 01/23/2017 - 12:15 pm.

    Expect consequences

    While Trump’s “America First” approach may not succeed very well at helping Joe Six Pack and the Rust Belt, I think we can expect serious lasting damage in foreign relations and international affairs from a serious application of that philosophy.

    • Submitted by Roy Everson on 01/23/2017 - 12:34 pm.

      Cold truth

      If FDR or Truman had ever run on an America First slogan there’s no way the Cold War could ever have been engaged. It would have been a hot war with the Soviet Union, every democracy for itself.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/23/2017 - 08:33 pm.

        Whose damage?

        Actually, I think Reagan was pretty close to “America First” idea and look what happened to the Soviet Union… And JFK was pretty firm in his dealing with the USSR… On the other hand, we have already suffered from a “serious lasting damage in foreign relations and international affairs” if we consider what is going on in the world.

        • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 01/24/2017 - 10:35 am.

          How Soon We Forget

          That, if President Obama had proposed a large scale engagement of our military in Syria or Crimea,…

          the Republicans in congress would have been screaming about how terrible it was,…

          and likely holding what would amount to votes of no confidence,…

          (which they were poised to do after the Syrians violated his line in the sand over chemical weapons, should he have committed troops)…

          just because HE was the one who proposed it.

          He did precisely as much as he could in these situations,…

          without revealing to the world that the American President had NO SUPPORT from the American Congress for any type of military action,…

          anywhere in the world,…

          and thereby inviting far MORE terrorist and Russian adventurism.

        • Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 01/24/2017 - 10:55 am.

          The Soviet Union failed over many decades.

          Reagan just happened to be the US President at the time it eventually collapsed and was dissolved. A similar situation has existed in the Middle East since the end of WWI. How many times has it failed there? Over how many decades? Be careful what you claim, it might come back to bite you.

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/24/2017 - 07:35 pm.

            Answers

            Mr. Kapphahn, the world knew perfectly well that Congress didn’t like Obama – no secrets there. The point was that Obama didn’t propose anything..

            Mr. Abrahamson, I never said that Reagan caused the Soviet Union to collapse… but by protecting American interests he contributed to that. As for the Middle East, you are correct, it failed many times over… but the world and even America keep coming and rescuing it, contrary to its interests.

  6. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/23/2017 - 12:43 pm.

    Optics

    Was there no one in the Trump organization who understood the history of the slogan “America First?” Or was the person who understood too intimidated to speak up?

    Or (most likely) do they just not care about being associated with that group?

  7. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/23/2017 - 01:00 pm.

    Was there no one in the Trump organization who understood the history of the slogan “America First?”

    Kind of as a policy, I am not going to be tyrannized by a policy of low expectations. In this case, I don’t think the possibility of ignorance to be used as a weapon. I just think it’s reasonable to assume that Mr. Trump, a graduate of an Ivy League university has the typical basis of Ivy League graduate which surely includes a basic familiarity with history of the 20th century.

    • Submitted by Pat Thompson on 01/23/2017 - 01:31 pm.

      Only two years

      Ah, but he only went to Penn for two years, so most likely those kinds of liberal arts classes would have been before that. No one ever says where he transferred from. I imagine by the time of his junior year, he was only doing business and economics.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/23/2017 - 02:12 pm.

        I believe that he started at Fordham University

        also an excellent school.
        But as most of us who have taught know, there are some students for whom things go in one ear and out the other without encountering anything in the middle.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/23/2017 - 02:29 pm.

      Basic History

      I’m not sure Trump has such a hot command of even basic history. America First seems to be regarded now as an unpleasant fringe organization, except that Lindbergh’s involvement in it kind of gives it continuing prominence.

      In reality, a number of otherwise respectable Americans were drawn to the movement for its isolationism. Future President Ford was a member of America First , along with Potter Stewart, Sargent Shriver, and Gore Vidal.

  8. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/23/2017 - 01:08 pm.

    America First

    Autocrats rarely think about the interests of others, since empathy is among the personal qualities usually lacking in that personality type. I’m going to guess that we’ll see many, many examples of that lack of empathy over the next four years, and those examples will appear in both domestic and foreign policy.

    I’ll also guess – in Trumpian fashion, I won’t bother with research to support this assertion – that Mr. Trump doesn’t care where the phrase came from, and simply believes that it has a nice, populist ring to it that will maintain his popularity among the commoners. His advisors are probably divided between the ethically-challenged “It doesn’t matter” camp and the historically oblivious “Wait, someone used this before us?” camp. Steve Titterud may be on to something in pointing out the similarities – ideological if not chronological – between “America First” and “American Exceptionalism.” Neither one seems likely to be of much use to American interests in the increasingly interconnected world in which we live.

  9. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 01/23/2017 - 02:55 pm.

    There’s no bias here about the meaning and history of the Trump slogan, “America First!” We’re just recalling our history lessons (Trump may not have taken history, or passed it or absorbed anything of it). That includes good old Minnesotan Charles Lindbergh’s 1930’s fascism, not just anti-European war entry. The phrase rings of 1930s fascism.

    Trump’s staff in the white House includes the former Breitbart guy, a white nationalist who loves the phrase America First and über alles, and former Gen. Flynn–you know, the one whose own staff used to ask whether something was a fact, or just a Flynn fact” that the general made up? So maybe there are few individuals there who dare to contradict Trump, or even broach the subject of the slogan’s negative vibe.

    Are we supposed to be reassured by reports that some White House staff are trying hard to control and contain Trump’s testiness and refusal to accept certain truths? Are we in for four years of having somebody come after him every day with a tray and brushbroom, correcting the misstatements and lies he leaves i his trail?

    Trump seems to have a lot of handlers, or soothers, people there to calm him down, get him to focus on something important. But if that calming-him-down means they have to lie for him, in public, as Kellyanne Conway did yesterday on TV and Spicer did in a “presser,” we may spiral into a national nightmare.

    We must keep pointing these things out. Demand that he grow up, into the office’s dignity.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/23/2017 - 08:33 pm.

      Contradiction?

      I just read recently that one of the main problems Democrats have with the Trump’s cabinet nominees is that they (the nominees) have ideas different than Trump… Interesting, right?

  10. Submitted by joe smith on 01/23/2017 - 06:13 pm.

    America first means America first….

    What is so hard to figure out about that. It is also called leverage, for those who don’t know anything about negotiation, the person, company, or country with the most leverage gets the best deal. When you do one on one deals, it is much easier to get a good deal than when you negotiate as 1 of 15. Trump understands this (Obama no clue) and that is why he tore up the bad trade deals we agreed to or want to sign. It is more work but you get a better deal for the American worker….. Thus America first…

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 01/24/2017 - 10:44 am.

      The Trouble Is

      that there are lot of American business people these days,…

      Dishonest Donald included,…

      who don’t believe a “deal” is a “good deal,”…

      unless you’re making a “killing,”….

      and thoroughly ripping the other party off.

      “Fair and equitable, and “win-win scenarios” are the exact antitheses,…

      of what these people regard to be a “good deal.”

      It’s not enough to build your own business;…

      you have to destroy the other guy at the same time.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 01/24/2017 - 01:04 pm.

      Seems

      There are folks that have evolved past all deals have to be win-lose. Was a very good book, still is, a few years back called 7 Habits of highly effective people, Stephen Covey. One of the key attributes is: How to develop Win-Win situations. We all live on a single Space Ship earth, from this vantage point it appears that thinking one must lose for the other to win, came from Cro-Magnon man, and that is where it still belongs.

  11. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/23/2017 - 08:34 pm.

    All slogans are the same

    It is hard to see how “America First” is worse than “Hope and Change” or “Don’t do Stupid stuff.” Slogan is always a slogan and doesn’t mean anything until real actions… Maybe it would be wise to wait for that? As for Trump’s inaugural speech, more than half Americans liked it so maybe it was not that “barely coherent, tone-deaf, self-promoting” after all… But I am glad that Mr. Black agreed that “the argument that decisions over the use of the U.S. military should be heavily guided by the national interest is close to unarguable,” which is why bombing Libya, not doing anything in Syria, and letting Egypt fall to Muslim Brotherhood and Iran dominate Middle East were not guided by national interests… or were guided by totally wrong understanding of those interests…

    I also hope that Trump’s “America First” slogan doesn’t mean isolationism a la Lindbergh or Pat Buchanan. It should mean using force when it benefits America like in Iraq (again, winning the war did not have any negative consequences, staying after the war did) and not bombing Serbia and Libya.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 01/24/2017 - 12:19 pm.

      “winning the war did not have any negative consequences” ??

      So the destruction of all stabilizing infrastructure in Iraq – all the significant institutions – had no negative consequences ??

      The Iraqis living in a failed state might have a little problem with this breezy summary.

      This kind of attitude is so typical of “American Exceptionalism” – we can take actions which we regard as illegal or war crimes by others, but when we do them, it’s OK because the rules are different for us. You know: we’re “Exceptional” !!

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/24/2017 - 07:36 pm.

        Reconstruction was not part of war

        The war lasted several weeks and then a few more months to capture Saddam. Not much was destroyed during that time… And Iraq failed as a state because Iraqis did not rise to the occasion.

  12. Submitted by John Appelen on 01/23/2017 - 09:17 pm.

    Two Points

    First, I find this Liberal paradigm fascinating… “If you take from the rich (through taxes) to help the poor (through social spending), or if you decide not to do that, you are favoring some Americans at the expense of others.” Please remember that old Conservative saying… “Poor folks don’t start companies or hire people.” My point being is that the best way to help the people with low incomes is to start more businesses that provide more and better jobs.

    Second, for decades many Liberals have been preaching “America First”. I mean just think of all the “we should be spending domestically” comments that were made. The “we should not help the people of Afghanistan and Iraq” comments. “We should reduce the military”. It seems Trump is pretty aligned with the Left in this slogan.

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 01/24/2017 - 10:53 am.

      That Old “Conservative” Aphorism

      is so cute!

      But it’s also completely wrong.

      It is ONLY poorer people who start innovative new businesses (check the history of American companies rather than your biases).

      Rich people are far too busy trying to pad their own pockets by buying up the competition or driving them out of business,…

      or in the case of an innovative new startup that can make the same product better, faster, and cheaper,…

      buying them up to steal their ideas or to shut them down,…

      because the rich old guys can make MORE money making worse products, more slowly, and selling them for more,…

      (the pharmaceutical industry is massively into this approach).

      The “conservative” version of innovation just means the kinds of massive tax cuts that were given to the wealthy during the Reagan years,…

      tax cuts which did not create a SINGLE job,…

      except for a few bankers running tax shelters in the Cayman Islands,…

      but are certainly responsible for the massive income inequality we see in the U.S. now.

    • Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 01/24/2017 - 11:01 am.

      “Poor folks don’t start companies or hire people.”

      Poor folks DO start companies–we see it on TV all the time.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 01/24/2017 - 03:04 pm.

        Both

        This response is to both Greg and Gerald’s comments. Now help me understand. The typical rallying cry from Liberals is that families and generations are trapped in poverty due to some systemic unfairness in the US system?

        Now you are telling me that many poor people escape poverty to start companies that employee many many people… Help me understand.

        And if so many poor people are successful, why are so many still trapped in poverty?

        I have spent most of my life working for American companies that have been in existence for 50+ years and have been paying medium to large work forces around the globe for that whole time. Thankfully they have done a good job of growing by satisfying their customers, employees and investors. 🙂

        • Submitted by Helen Hunter on 01/29/2017 - 11:13 pm.

          Forgetting basics

          You, John Appelen, bring up some basic questions about the poor and the not-poor.
          That inequality, with genocide, slavery, and keeping the vote from women, slaves and other people with little or no property, is at the bottom of what’s wrong with this country.
          Far from being a democracy, this country was founded to protect property and the men who owned it — including the legal lie that they owned other human beings, which lie was protected in the constitution they wrote.
          It IS, however, a true democratic miracle that poor people, immigrants, sharecroppers, former slaves when they were finally “freed”, Native Americans, factory workers and women — who in spite of how little or how much our husbands, fathers, brothers, sons owned, by law owned NOTHING, not the fruit of our labor, not even our own bodies! — have over the two centuries of our country’s history pushed and worked and planned and sometimes died to make this something more like a democracy.
          THAT is what trump and his handlers (does anyone think HE’s the real power in this administration?) are plotting to dismantle and destroy. Same old story: money, money and money.
          The war on Iraq and all the others were waged for profits for US businessmen like trump, cheny and all the others.
          Trump is unstable to the point of danger; his handlers are not intelligent to trust him with the power they’ve arranged for him as a cover for what they want to do. Like all evil people, they may be clever but they’re not wise.
          Fortunately, we are still here, the democratic majority. The country’s ordeal may not last as long as four years.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 01/26/2017 - 09:31 pm.

      Come on!

      First: I find the Conservative Paradigm fascinating “If you take from the poor (through tax loop holes) to help the rich (through tax loop hole subsidies), or if you decide not to do that, you are favoring some Americans at the expense of other Americans. You are caught in your own trap!
      Rich people are not rich because they pay to much tax, 5-3=6? Please show me the math how that works, Have already show you the math on how the poor pay more than their fair share.

      Liberals “America First” please show me, seems I missed that one. Afghanistan and Iraq, is a security issue, are we reading, we should forget about US Security?

  13. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/23/2017 - 10:52 pm.

    These links may provide some guidance in the times of Trump and the hatred of him:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/21/opinion/sunday/the-tempting-of-the-media.html?_r=0
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/01/23/great-march-you-had-there-liberals-you-alienated-millions-of-regular-americans.html

  14. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/24/2017 - 06:02 am.

    Yesterday, Trump rejected a major diplomatic initiative which was years in the making, the Trans Pacific trade agreement virtually without explanation to the American people. Let’s step back for a moment and think about how remarkable this is. Major policy decisions affecting all of us are now being made without comment, without explanation, without any serious thought or discussion or understanding of the issues at hand and few seem to notice or care.

    For a long time I have been convinced that our nation is dying. The proof of it is yesterday. The complete lack of intellectual seriousness and honesty displayed by our president in his first days in office is only the most recent evidence, but this evidence is compelling.

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 01/24/2017 - 11:09 am.

      I Do Not Believe that Mr. Trump

      Is capable of understanding anything as complex as the Trans Pacific Trade deal.

      He couldn’t MAKE an intelligent explanation as to why he scuttled it.

      He refuses to explain anything because he CAN’T: he’s flying blind, in a thick fog, completely “by the seat of his pants.”

      I’m not sure anyone in his administration could do so,…

      which is pathetic since there are many legitimate reasons to be opposed to parts of it.

      Somehow Mr. Trump believes he will have the time and energy to negotiate a “better” deal with each of the countries involved in the TPT,…

      which is only a testament to how far from reality his perspective on the world is,…

      especially when he believes he can coerce other nations into making HIS kind of deals where they end up bankrupt or do not get paid.

      China will be ONLY TOO HAPPY to offer these nations BETTER deals.

  15. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/24/2017 - 09:09 am.

    “If you take from the rich

    “If you take from the rich (through taxes) to help the poor (through social spending), or if you decide not to do that, you are favoring some Americans at the expense of others.”

    That seems to me to be fairly obvious, if one chooses to look at it in those terms. When you cut social services to pay for tax cuts, you are taking from the poor and giving to the rich. Whether that’s a sound policy is another question, but that is the policy. Conservatives and Republicans argue that the money they receive from the social services that are eliminated is used by them more productively for the benefit of all. Who knows? Maybe they are right.

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 01/24/2017 - 11:31 am.

      Only If You Believe

      that employing a few more bankers to run tax shelters,…

      where those rich people can hide their wealth in the Cayman Islands,…

      or wherever those off shore tax shelters are being hosted now,…

      is “efficient” use of money.

      What have the wealthy done with the billions they’ve gotten from tax cuts?

      Taken it OUT of circulation by socking it away,…

      in extremely low risk investments,…

      which produce NOTHING for the rest of society.

      The US treasury might as well just burn all that money to ash,…

      for all the good it’s done for society as a whole.

  16. Submitted by Thomas Cahill on 01/24/2017 - 09:35 am.

    ‘MErica First

    Any claim that the country had to ‘exceptionalism’ died on November 8th, 2016. All that remains to be done now is to change the national mottoes from ‘E Pluribus Unum’ and ‘In God We Trust’ to ‘Me First’ and ‘You’re Fired ! ‘. I expect Mr. Trump will want his name in capital letters as well as his leering face on the American flag as well.

  17. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/24/2017 - 09:53 am.

    Since I have yet to hear

    anyone call for ‘America Second’
    The phrase is meaningless, unless it is translated as
    ‘Trump First’.

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 01/24/2017 - 11:39 am.

      For Mr. Trump, there IS no “America”

      There is only Trump.

      In his warped psychology, HE is now “America.”

      Everything is directly personal to HIM.

      But the only thing that now matters is how each thing makes Trump look,…

      how it affects his perceived wealth,…

      and how it affects the “Trump brand.”

      You and I do not exist in Trump’s perspective,…

      unless we meet his personal needs in some way,…

      or threaten to damage him in some way.

      The same is true for the other nations and leaders of the world.

      At this point in the White House, there IS no America,…

      there are no American citizens,…

      there are no other nations with their pesky wants, needs, and desires,…

      there is ONLY Trump (to be read in the voice of Zuul from the original “Ghostbusters” movie)

  18. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/24/2017 - 01:57 pm.

    Exceptionalism

    I have always had a problem with the term “American Exceptionalism”. What is the rule to which America is the exception? In a world where every country is different, how is it possible for any country not to be exceptional? And what comes with being exceptional? Are exceptional countries permitted do things unexceptional countries are not? Are there general legal or moral rules not applicable to exceptional countries? Do we, for example, have a right to invade countries that other nations do not?

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/24/2017 - 07:39 pm.

      Who benefits

      Mr. Foster, Trump was saying that he would reject TPP all along and people voted for him knowing that… As for explanation, globalization cannot be good for a rich country by a law of communicating vessels…

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/26/2017 - 10:51 am.

        Globalization

        I kind of think that if globalization weren’t good for rich countries, they wouldn’t engage in it. But they the fact is they do.

        One of the things TPP did was help protect American intellectual property. And it’s quite possible to criticize it for that because a lot of people in America would like to import for example drugs from countries where IP isn’t protected. What happens when we abandon TPP. Well, those countries which didn’t much like those IP protections can turn around and trade with China a country that doesn’t care about them. Is this good for us? Or bad for us? Both probably, but it’s just wrong that consideration wasn’t given to what’s involved. What we do know is that withdrawal from TPP helps China at our expense, and what we don’t know is if Trump has even bothered to think about this.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/27/2017 - 07:36 am.

          Good and bad

          Globalization (meaning open exchange with poorer countries) is good for rich countries in the immediate future because it allows a flow of cheaper goods in (consumer do benefit in the short run). However, it is not good in the longer run because it puts people out of work so they can’t afford even cheaper goods and don’t pay taxes. It is inevitable because the labor cost is much less in poor countries. On the other hand, rich countries also do it partially out of charity to help poor countries hoping that sometime in the far future it will pay back. I think consideration was actually given to withdrawal because it had been talked about for a long time; even Clinton was against it (after she was for it). China I believe was not a part of TPP so how can it help them? Plus, Trump promised to deal with them separately…

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 01/26/2017 - 12:46 pm.

        Effectiveness

        I guess I would disagree, globalization has been great for our consumers for decades. But there are some losers as part of the deal.

        The more accurate statement is”globalization cannot be good for an ineffective and/or inefficient country”. And unfortunately the USA has a lot of low knowledge/ low skills workers, disabled folks, government bureaucracy, regulatory hurdles, etc that make it hard to be effective and/or effective on a global basis. So the question is what are we willing to do about it?

        We can maintain a higher standard of living than the other citizens of the world, but we need to earn it.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/26/2017 - 12:17 pm.

      Why it is exceptional

      Exceptional means it is free, powerful, and wealthy – the only one in the world. And America has the same right as all other countries – watch for its own interests.

      • Submitted by Helen Hunter on 01/30/2017 - 11:36 am.

        Dear Mr Gutman:

        America is not free.
        That is, if you count the people whose ancestors were here when the european adventurers landed here by accident, looking for money and slaves.
        And the people whose votes were stolen “legally” by right-wing “legislators” in the fake name of “voter fraud”.
        And the workers whose labor unions have been rendered less politically powerful by the likes of “president” reagan (an earlier trump). Even before that, “the right to work” state laws hampered unions. “Right to work”: doublespeak straight out of 1984.
        And women of all races, classes and ages. Our hard-won right to decide whether and when to have children is threatened by white men’s desire to steal back that power over our bodies and therefore over our lives. Rape remains a present danger for all of us. A patriarchal culture is a rape culture. And at least 20% of the money we earn by our labor is stolen from us by employers who pay us less than men. More than 20% if you’re Black, Hispanic, Native American or Asian.
        And the people who are murdered by cops and fellow citizens because of their race, because of their sexuality, because they are mentally ill, disabled, or like Jacob Wetterling are a threat to wrongdoers.
        I agree with you that America is rich and powerful. But the wealth and power are kept away from 99+ % of us. And that is not “just the way things are”. It is one of our worst problems, one that has been with us from our beginning. One that, right now, those of us exercising our right of dissent, are doing what we can to solve.
        You can join us. What do you say?

  19. Submitted by Sean Olsen on 01/25/2017 - 10:34 am.

    Apparently “America First” means taking executive action to allow a Canadian company to build a pipeline.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/25/2017 - 06:48 pm.

      Yep

      With American steel and by American workers… and with Canadian money. Not too bad.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 01/25/2017 - 08:41 pm.

        Don’t

        Count your chickens before they hatch, suspect a lot of that pipe has already been bought, and not from the US, I have actually been a fence sitter on this, sooner or later we got to run fuel lines, with the dumping of TPP no reason not to dig up all those farm fields anymore, the Ag business just got thrown under the bus! What is it they say about recessions? Farm led farm fed?

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/26/2017 - 09:04 am.

        Yep

        To ship Canadian oil to China, all while posing an immense risk of irreversible damage to the American environment.

        I’ll believe the American steel part when I see it. My hunch would be that the builders will go for the least expensive source for steel.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/26/2017 - 06:45 pm.

          Let’s wait

          No one knows what the future will bring but at this moment that pipe building looks positive. Nothing may be done about the steel already purchased but if all future steel is required it be made in America, I can’t see how they will get out of that. Why do we care that it is Canadian oil going to China if we get something out of that? And how is the risk of running oil through pipes greater than from carrying it with railroad?

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/30/2017 - 09:02 am.

            Getting Something Out of it

            “Why do we care that it is Canadian oil going to China if we get something out of that?” If what we get out of it is an irreparably damaged aquifer, I’ll say no thanks.

            • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 01/30/2017 - 08:21 pm.

              Compare chances

              A chance of that disaster is much higher if this oil is shipped via railroads… Do we want to stop a safer way of oil transportation because there is still a small chance of a leak? We can never exclude all problems 100%.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 01/26/2017 - 09:20 am.

        Ooops!

        Just lost 138K of diesel fuel! Good reason to shut down the EPA,

        https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/pipeline-leaks-138k-gallons-of-diesel-in-iowa/ar-AAmfG3a?li=BBnb7Kz

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 01/26/2017 - 03:07 pm.

          4 Cars

          Apparently that is just over 4 rail tanker cars, seems like a good trade off compared to all the rail traffic it would take to transport all that fuel.

          By the way, how does having an EPA help in this case? I personally think the State officials can handle this.

          • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 01/26/2017 - 08:24 pm.

            Come on!

            The issue was pipelines, and the safety there of: Do you want mew to argue solar and wind power spills as a counter argument? As you should have grasped long ago by now, I am a realist not an idealist, I really don’t care what party, what is the problem lets solve it, made mention earlier that I was fence sitting on pipe lines, the point about the EPA is clear, if they aren’t looking after the common mans good who is? Lets not go to self regulation or do we want to revisit the “carnage” of 07,08,09? We can all take free shots, and yes, I take my fair share as well, but mine are really good ones! 🙂

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 01/28/2017 - 09:45 pm.

              Realist

              I think the pragmatic view is that our society currently needs to move flammable fluids and gases around the country, and that pipelines are the safest most efficient method of doing so.

              And yes there will be the rare tanker derailment, pipeline spill, etc, and I think the State is capable of managing the clean up. I am not sure why we need State and Fed bureaucrats who do nearly the same job.

              According to wiki the EPA has over 15,000 employees. That is a lot of people to help set national standards / regulations.
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Environmental_Protection_Agency

              • Submitted by Bill Willy on 01/29/2017 - 02:02 pm.

                And you think that because?

                “I think the State is capable of managing the clean up.”

                Apparently, you haven’t been following the long-time effort to clean up the “lower” St. Louis River where it empties into Lake Superior. (A search on “Duluth Lake Superior Super Fund project” might be a good place to start).

                Apparently, you missed the conversation from a couple years ago in which the main topic was “Half of lakes and streams in southern Minnesota found too polluted for safe swimming, fishing”

                http://www.startribune.com/half-of-s-minn-waters-found-too-polluted-for-safe-swimming-fishing/301702651/

                Apparently, you didn’t notice the stories related to Water Legacy’s and attorney Paula Maccabee’s petition to the EPA to strip the MPCA of its regulatory powers (they exercise on behalf of the EPA) because of their failure to enforce the provisions of the Clean Water Act that apply to the mining industry’s activities and handling of its “by-products” . . .

                http://www.minnpost.com/earth-journal/2015/07/citing-mpca-weakness-group-asks-feds-step-minings-water-pollution

                http://waterlegacy.org/sites/default/files/u42412/WaterLegacyPetitionwithdrawMPCA_CWAAuthority(July2,2015).pdf

                . . . as well as the EPA’s agreeing to investigate MPCA’s actions/inactions based on that petition:

                http://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/01/19/epa-iron-mining-regulation-investigation

                While I suppose “being capable of handling the clean up” is technically different than being capable of preventing the things that create the NEED for clean up, I’m not sure what it is that makes you think the state is, or ever has been, capable of managing either process on its own.

                (Not to mention being able to afford it. Businesses create the need for clean up but, of course, refuse to do the work involved or pay for it, opting instead to leave those things to the government and taxpayers.)

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 01/29/2017 - 08:23 pm.

                  Now I agree that the EPA is needed for things that cross state lines and to help create regulations.

                  However I think Minnesota should be able to take responsibility for it’s own lakes and mining…

                  • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 01/30/2017 - 10:03 am.

                    States’ job

                    So, it’s the states’ job to clean up the messes caused by private businesses? Deregulate, then clean up? What happened to personal responsibility? Or are you telling me that the taxpayers should subsidize the profits of private businesses by making sure that they can run unchecked and without any responsibility to the people or the environment because the “states can clean up after them?” That seems foolish to me. I believe that the job of the EPA is create regulations to prevent businesses from forcing the states and the taxpayers from having to clean things up. After all, most pollution doesn’t stay local. Every drop of nastiness we put in the Ol’ Missip affects AT LEAST 9 other states. Every molecule of chemicals we put in the air can float into any other state or country. Every bit of poison we put into the groundwater gets pulled into crops that feed millions around the world. And every aquifer we drain needs to be replaced by water that comes from somewhere else. If any of this stuff only affected those responsible for it, I’d be fine with that. But the fact is, we all pay. One way or another.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 01/30/2017 - 11:47 am.

                      Really

                      Now where did I say that the government should clean up after private business or that we should deregulate?

                      I simply said that I believe the people in the States are capable of enforcing the regulations and working with businesses. And that the EPA does not need 15,000+ employees… Do you distrust your local citizens, government and bureaucrats that much?

                    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 01/30/2017 - 11:56 am.

                      Gee

                      And when mutual waterways are polluted? Guess the states must agree ahead of time, well unless the polluter is in the head waters and the down stream gets the pollution, guess that’s just tough luck, move your state.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 01/30/2017 - 02:23 pm.

                      Lack of Faith

                      Again… Why do you think it is better to have the Feds dealing with these issues than the local regulatory agency?

                      Do you have that little faith in our State government and their employees?

                    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 01/30/2017 - 07:33 pm.

                      As before

                      You didn’t answer the situation, the usual issue dodge, “Realist” not faithist, looking your way, we need nothing, because we have faith that everyone is a mind reader and everyone will do the right thing because everyone knows the rules (common sense), and no one would ever think of breaking those common sense rules! Like, everyone knows you don’t take the risk of destroying someones drinking water supply by putting an oil line through it, just common sense, right?

  20. Submitted by Dan Berg on 01/30/2017 - 02:33 pm.

    Chickens roosting

    The America Fist is simply the culmination of years of populist and protectionist rhetoric. The idea the Americans have a right to jobs at a particular wage and that by allowing businesses to sell things made by people who live outside our boarders we somehow less “American”. Letting people in to our country or letting jobs out is basically the same thing but both of the main political ideologies are to dogmatic to do anything other than repeat the same mistakes over and over. Trump has his current position in large part thanks to decades of myopic, nationalist xeonophobia that both parties fed for their own political advantage.

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