Trump’s Populism and the Republican Base

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RUSH: This is what pushing back looks like. This is what upsetting a two-generation applecart looks like.  You know what?  I’m gonna explain. I’m gonna explain this even better when we get into the Mattis and Syria situation, because it’s much the same thing there, although the stakes are a little different. But you still have… In this case, it’s more than two worldviews.  But you have the established so-called liberal order that has existed for 50 years essentially since the end of World War II.

Even heard McCain reference this during the campaign when Trump was talking about “Make America Great Again,” put America first. You remember all these people thought that was nuts. “It’s crazy! You can’t put America first.  We’re part of the global enterprise.  We’re all globalists here.  You can’t put America first,” and Trump said, “Screw you! Everybody ought to be putting their countries first and we’d all be better off.”

McCain says, “Why do we want to blow up this international order that we created and are in charge of after World War II?” and I knew exactly what he meant.  This is when Churchill and all the guys got together after World War II to divvy up Europe.  “Soviets, you get this.  Europeans, you get this.  This goes over there.”  We carved it up, and end up with an Iron Curtain shortly after this and the Cold War began.  But we set up NATO, these international organizations.

It was called the new order. And the United States was theoretically in charge of it because we paid for it. The Marshall Plan. We rebuilt all these areas destroyed in World War II. We did that also after World War I to a certain extent. And it was that rebuilding and the creation of that so-called order that has created what has now become a U.N. dominated globalism, which Trump also ran against under the banner of “Make America Great Again,” redoing trade deals to America’s advantage. Redoing everything we could to America’s advantage, not to the point that other people get hurt ’cause we want to help everybody, but there’s no reason why we — and, by the way, this international order did set it up that because we were the big winner, that we didn’t get — for example, no American will ever be secretary general of the United Nations.

You ever stop to think about that? Why? ‘Cause it would be unfair! We’re already the world’s superpower! We already run the world. It would not be right. Whoever runs the United Nations has to be a minority or from some Podunk country with five people, some backwards ordinary place. That’s the only way. It was the original affirmative action, in a sense. So we have allowed ourselves to become the world’s back pocket. “What do you need? Okay. Pick out of there what you need.” And that became one of the backbones of this new global order.

But it was this invincible capitalist economy that created all of that wealth, that had to first be created before it could be pickpocketed. And that was even deemed to be unfair, that we had too much of the world’s wealth. So we had to dial ourselves back again by becoming greater contributors to these international organizations and deemphasizing American power except where it was requested and so forth.

But the globalists all this time, like McCain, thought that we were the central power and that “Make America Great Again” was gonna delineate that or weaken it. I’m telling you, that’s Washington, folks. The State Department, that’s exactly what they think. 9/11 happens, what does the State Department do? They do a forum on “why do they hate us?” In other words, our fault. What did we do to make ’em mad? What can we do to change to make sure that 19 hijackers don’t want to murder 3,000 Americans again? What did we do? Why do they hate us?

I’m not kidding. The State Department is part of this global order that accepts that the United States is more often than not a problem, is guilty. For example, we don’t have the right, we no longer have the moral authority to tell other countries to shore up their human rights. We don’t have the moral authority any longer to tell other countries about freedom and liberty because we don’t do it or we haven’t done it, either. How could a country that had slavery in its past dare ever to claim it has the moral authority? And we had Americans, particularly in the Obama administration, agreeing with that.

You know what they said? That’s right. So we can’t tell the ChiComs how to treat their people properly, and we cannot have policies which punish them for violating human rights because we do not have a stellar record ourselves. And so over the years the United States got chopped down to size here, a little bit there, our influence, moral authority, capitalist supremacy, all of it got whittled down and kept whittling down.

But the people in Washington involved in all this were immensely wealthy and powerful, and administering this order for 50 years now has been how everybody in that town has organized their careers, their futures, their contacts, you know, who you know and this sort of thing, career advancement, networking, it’s all been based on that premise. And Trump getting elected and winning on the basis of blowing it up has sent ‘em for a loop.

And part of this global order, I’m telling you, at the United Nations right now, I shared the story with you last week, there is an ongoing effort just end the whole concept of borders, that borders are discriminatory.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Let’s go to Syria here for just a second as I promised to do. I was chatting back and forth via email today with my friend Andy McCarthy. There is a story in the Wall Street Journal. It’s a column in the Wall Street Journal by Walter Russell Mead, and the headline of the column: “Trump’s Populist Schism Over Syria — His troop-withdrawal plan is politically risky. The Republican base is more hawkish than isolationist.”

Andy and I were talking about this, and it led into couple other things, which I will now attempt to recreate and share with you. But when I referenced this in the opening hour of the program when I was setting the table for the program today, I was making the point that the Trump base is not monolithic on certain issues, and this is one of them. There are a lot of Trump voters who are very upset with pulling troops out of Syria. I know them. I know a bunch of ’em who don’t like this at all. They are deeply disappointed over this.

There are other Trump voters who think that this is another promise kept to get us out of hellholes in the world where nothing ever changes, nothing ever benefits us, and we expose our best and costliest treasure, blood, materiel, for no apparent aim. So it was pointed out that both groups of people are part of the Trump base. Andy reminded me that I’ve made the point over and over that Trump is the only guy that could break the bond that he has with his audience because the media can’t despite their efforts ’cause they didn’t create it.

The media didn’t create the bond. You know the drill here. And that Trump may be fracturing his own base here with the Syria move and the announced withdrawal of half our forces in Afghanistan. So this column by Walter Russell Mead in the Wall Street Journal addresses this, and let me just give you a couple pull quotes here. “The most surprising thing about President Trump’s decision to overrule his top advisers and withdraw U.S. forces from Syria and Afghanistan isn’t that it was improvised and disruptive. …

“The surprise is that for the first time, Mr. Trump made a foreign-policy decision that divides the coalition that brought him into the White House and risks his control of the GOP. Mr. Trump has frequently challenged and infuriated his political opponents, but his Syria decision risks alienating allies he can ill afford to lose.” Again, Mr. Mead here has a point ’cause I know people — I mean, some of the staunchest defenders of Trump on everything — and they have been rattled by this.

(impression) “How can we abandon the Kurds? How can we abandon our allies? We have promised them that we would be there. Just pull the rug out? How can we do this?” There are people who feel that a broken U.S. military commitment is unforgivable and we should not tolerate it. It does not bode well for future allies and making them. “Mr. Trump’s…” Back to Mr. Mead’s piece here. “Mr. Trump’s greatest political asset has been his feel for the priorities of his populist base.

“The importance of this skill is sometimes underrated, but his ability to unite and energize his voters gave him control of the Republican Party and the White House.” Folks, that is inarguable. All you have to do is attend or watch one Trump rally and marvel at what you see. This is exactly what Mr. Mead is talking about: Trump’s feel for his base, Trump’s awareness of the bond that he has with his base. I told you from the outset. I saw it the first rally.

I saw the bond because I’ve experienced it myself in the early days of this program. I know it like it’s part of my life. I noticed that in every Trump rally — either 30 seconds, two minutes — somewhere in that rally he would stop the performance aspect. I don’t mean change tone or change speed. But he would get rid of the bombast and the humor and he would look these people in the eye and thank them from the bottom of his heart from being there, for supporting him.

And they got it. And all it took was 30 seconds, two minutes max. And you could see this bond being created that nobody was gonna be able to break but him. It was masterful. So Mr. Mead is exactly right here talking about Trump’s greatest political asset being his feel for the priorities of his base. And he says if he loses his bond with his base, Trump will quickly find himself isolated in a Washington that hates him.

“Nowhere has Mr. Trump’s sense of populist America been more important than in foreign policy. As a candidate in 2015-16, he showed that he understood something his establishment rivals in both parties did not: that the post-Cold War consensus no longer commanded the American people’s support.”

This is what I was talking about just a half hour ago, this new liberal order that was created after World War II that led to the rise of globalism and the United Nations as a center of globalism and the fact that the United States, because of its unfair size and power, was always going to have to apologize or willingly take second status, the big guys can’t laud it over everybody. Like there will never be an American as the secretary general of the United Nations, even though without us it doesn’t exist.

It will just never happen. We’re already perceived to run the world, so we have to let some obscure bureaucrat from someplace nobody ever heard of run the place, that would be the secretary general. We establish this post-World War II order where we set up the world and run it.

But it has now evolved into some globalist enterprise, which last week the United Nations runs a story and says that illegal immigration is a human right and that borders are among the most discriminatory things existing in the human condition today. That borders are too limiting, they are negative and so forth. This is where we’re headed.

And Mr. Mead here says that Trump instinctively knew that a majority of Americans were fed up with this globalist arrangement. The post-Cold War consensus no longer commanded the American people’s support, meaning the American people had sized this up, had wised up about it, and didn’t like the fact that it was our pocket constantly getting picked with no thank-yous, no appreciation.

“During the Cold War, a large majority of Americans united around the policies that built the international liberal order after World War II. But when the Soviet Union collapsed, a gap opened between those who saw an opportunity to expand America’s world-building activities and those who saw an opportunity for the U.S. to reduce its commitments overseas.”

If the big enemy bites the dust — and that’s what the wall going down meant. Oh, speaking of walls, how well did that one work? How well did the Berlin Wall work, folks? That kept the whole freaking nation imprisoned, didn’t it? Well, a whole half a nation. East Germany kept — in one city! It kept ’em imprisoned as communist slaves. Don’t tell me walls don’t work.

At any rate, when that wall came down it was perceived that that was it for the Soviet Union, the equivalent of victory. No longer was the United States needed to massively oversee the world and singularly oppose the evil empire. And so a bunch of populists popped up, people like Pat Buchanan said, “Come home. We don’t need to be part of this worldwide apparatus anymore where American national interests are not paramount.” And they weren’t.

But others saw it as an opportunity to expand our worldwide power base even more. “The foreign-policy establishment across both parties supported an ambitious global agenda, but increasingly alienated populists preferred to pull back. For a quarter-century after the Soviet Union collapsed, the establishment consensus for building up the global order dominated American foreign policy, and dissenting voices were shunted aside.

“By 2016, that was no longer possible. In the Republican Party, Trump’s antiestablishment message led him to victory; on the Democratic side, Sen. Bernie Sanders’s campaign also benefited from opposition to establishment policies on security and trade.”

And he goes on to talk about how the fissures here exist. Mr. Trump’s beleaguered presidency needs both factions of his base. He needs the part that believes in a dominant America, in a global order, and he needs the populists who want America out of that arrangement. He needs ’em both. His base isn’t monolithic. And until the Syria decision, Trump had managed the tension between these two different factions of his base pretty effectively.

Both factions supported getting out of the Paris climate accord, for example. And both factions praised the president’s skepticism about humanitarian intervention. And both sides enjoyed the discomfiture of the foreign policy establishment when Trump challenged conventional wisdom, and both factions of his base praised his willing to answer pursue a more unilateral course in foreign affairs.

“But the harmony,” writes Mr. Mead here, “may soon sour. Mr. Trump’s decisions on Syria and Afghanistan risk a rift between the president and his,” more globalist supporters. “Global” is the wrong word here, but it’s people that don’t necessarily believe in populism. He’s got some hawk conservative supporters in his group, is the point, and they don’t like ceding territory and acreage to the enemy like is going to happen in Syria.

And Mr. Mead says this might provide a way for some of these conservatives and people who used to be Reagan Democrats to break with the president without losing their own populist credentials. “Of the two wings of the GOP populist movement, the Jacksonians –” the Jacksonians are the stronger and, from a political standpoint, the more essential. The GOP base is more hawkish than isolationist.” Meaning Trump’s base is more inclined not to like this Syria move than to approve of it.

Anyway, it’s a warning sign. I gotta take a break ’cause we’re up against it. But this whole global, liberal order is rearing its head here. Everybody thinks that Trump is following through on a campaign promise to get out of Syria, get out of all these entanglements, which to a certain faction of his base he is. But the point in this column is there’s others in his base that don’t like this at all. And it ain’t good.

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