Trump discusses an executive order on trade, March 31, in front of a portrait
of President Andrew Jackson, who served 1829-37. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG NEWS
“Nationalist” Shouldn’t Be a Dirty Word.
By Walter Russell Mead. Wall Street Journal, May 1, 2017. See also The American Interest.
Why the Donald Trump-Andrew Jackson bromance is bad for America: Our current President’s ignorance about the past is painful. By J.M. Opal. New York Daily News, May 1, 2017.
What Trump Gets Right—and Progressives Get Wrong—About Andrew Jackson. By Andrew Exum. The Atlantic, May 2, 2017.
Republicans Should Be the Party of Lincoln--and Jackson. By Jarrett Stepman. The National Interest, May 13, 2017.
Trump will be successful if he puts U.S.
interests first—while still helping to maintain global order.
Donald Trump were a liberal Democrat, some of the media’s descriptions of
“chaos” and “disarray” in the White House probably would be replaced with
stories about “creative tension” among a “team of rivals.” As it is, the
struggle between “nationalists” like Steve Bannon and “globalists” like Gary
Cohn is characterized in near-apocalyptic terms. Yet as Mr. Trump told The Wall
Street Journal last week, “I’m a nationalist and a globalist.” That is good
news: Mr. Trump and the Republican Party should be weaving nationalist and
globalist themes together rather than picking them apart.
sense that Americans are bound together into a single people with a common
destiny—is a noble and necessary force without which American democracy would
fail. A nationalist and patriotic elite produces leaders like George
Washington, who aim to promote the well-being of the country they love. An
unpatriotic and antinationalist elite produces people who feather their nests
without regard to the common good.
Trump is president in large part because millions of Americans, rightly or
wrongly, believed that large sections of their country’s elite were no longer
nationalist. Flawed he may be, but the president bears an important message,
and Trump-hating elites have only themselves to blame for his ascendancy. A
cosmopolitan and technocratic political class that neither speaks the language
nor feels the pull of nationalist solidarity cannot successfully lead a
president symbolized his nationalist commitment by hanging a portrait of Andrew
Jackson in a place of honor in the Oval Office. Now Mr. Trump must stay true to
that commitment or he will lose his political base and American politics will
spin even further off balance. But life is rarely simple. Jacksonian means will
not always achieve Jacksonian goals. Sometimes, they even get in the way.
learned this when his populist fight against the Second Bank of the United
States ultimately led to a depression that turned the country over to his hated
Whig rivals. As Mr. Trump comes to grips with the tough international economic
reality, he is realizing that not everything the Jacksonians think they want
will actually help them. The president has already discovered that ripping up
the North American Free Trade Agreement won’t help the middle-class voters who
put him in office.
voters don’t want North Korea to have the ability to threaten the U.S. with
nuclear weapons. They also don’t want a second Korean War. Reaching the best
outcome on Korea could mean giving China a better deal on trade than many Trump
voters would desire. Populists like to rail against globalization and world
order. Yet the security and prosperity of the American people depend on an
intricate web of military, diplomatic, political and economic arrangements that
an American president must manage and conserve.
Trump is learning that some of the core goals of his Jacksonian program can be
realized only by judiciously employing the global military, diplomatic and
economic statesmanship associated with Alexander Hamilton. Bringing those two
visions into alignment isn’t easy. Up until the Civil War, the American party
system revolved around the rivalry of the Jacksonian Democrats with the
Hamiltonian Whigs. Abraham Lincoln fused Jacksonian unionism with Henry Clay’s
Hamiltonian vision when he created the modern Republican Party. Theodore
Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan revitalized the party of their times by returning
to the Jacksonian-Hamiltonian coalition that made the old party grand.
future of the Trump administration and the Republican Party largely depend on
whether the president and his allies can return to these roots. The elements of
fusion are there. While Jacksonians are skeptical of corporate power and
international institutions, they like economic growth that benefits the middle
class, and they strongly believe in an America that stands up for itself and
its allies. They are less worried about budget deficits than they are about a
strong economy. If the tide is lifting the rowboats, they do not care all that
much that the yachts are rising too.
coalition to work, Hamiltonians need to realize that the health and cohesion of
American society is fundamental to the world order that allows corporations and
financial firms to operate so profitably in the global market. In other words,
Peoria matters much more than Davos. It was American power and will that built
the present world order and ultimately must sustain it. A divided society with
an eviscerated middle class cannot provide the stable, coherent leadership that
U.S. must be simultaneously a nationalist power, focused on the prosperity and
security of its own people, and a globalist power working to secure the
foundations of international order that Americans need. Mr. Trump appears to
understand this truth better than many of his most vituperative critics. The
task now confronting the president and his team is to develop and execute a
national strategy based on these insights. Nothing in today’s world is harder
than this, and nothing is more essential.