While the extremes of contemporary partisanship have grown, there is a curious area of political overlap in the age of Trump: Left and Right have embraced “the end of …” theme. Clearly there is justification for an outpouring of pessimism. President Trump has put enormous pressure on political allies to enhance their financial contribution to global security. Sensible on its face, this initiative is unnecessarily bold and unsettling. The Trump campaign employed language and symbols that suggested racist overtones, a matter the Left reprises almost daily. President Trump’s predisposition for a mercantilist trade policy alarms the Right as well as the American consumer.
Foreign policy directives have alarmed those who believe Kim Jong Un is prepared to engage in nuclear war should provocations have a momentum that cannot be altered. Terrorism has raised its ugly head throughout the world and militant Islam has spread its wings among youthful adherents.
Of course there were Cassandra like moments in the seventies and eighties when an organization like the Club of Rome and individuals like Paul Ehrlich argued the end was near. But that globaloney came almost exclusively from the Left. Now the ostriches come in red and blue. Needless to say, not all of the concerns can be wished away. There are issues that go to the very core of this Republic. For example, will liberty be defended by populists who believe D.C. is run by and for elites?
On the other side of this political equation are optimists who believe the Trump election saved the Republic and launched a new chapter in American history. Had Hillary Clinton been elected the stranglehold of government would have sucked incentive out of the system thereby rendering liberty a knockout blow.
There are those who contend there is little difference between the Obama retreat from international affairs and the Trump vision of American First since both have isolationist impulses. But there is a difference: Obama was oblivious to the consequence of inaction and Trump (viz. the 59 missiles fired in Syria) is willing to attack when it is called for.
The stock market has rallied since Obama left the White House based on a belief that Trump tax relief will be a spur to economic growth. Corporate profits have reached new highs in the first quarter of the year. And small businessmen are united in the belief Obamacare’s removal will boost profit margins. Public opinion polls seem to suggest there is suspicion of Trump and his managerial style, yet at the same time more than fifty percent approve so many of his policy initiatives.
In his recent article “Is This the End of the ‘Free World’?” Abe Greenwald argues that President Trump jeopardizes global stability by encouraging a campaign of oppression (Russia, Hungary, Turkey, and The Philippines are cited as examples) on the international stage. Yet it is noteworthy that President Trump has spoken eloquently about the need to deny terrorist activity so that freedom can flourish. Admittedly Trump speeches are often fraught with internal contradictions but his approach to an Arab NATO reveals a desire to not only recapture U.S. leadership in the Middle East, but asserts the responsibility freedom bestows.
“The End of” scenario is never really the end just as Frank Fukuyama’s The End of History didn’t end history. If “the end” awakens the President to his Constitutional duty, then it serves a purpose. If it is yet another occasion for handwringing, then it is fodder for late night comedians and little more. Then again it is probably late night TV where the verbiage started in the first place.