Friday, June 30, 2017

The New Isolationism

As war raged across Europe in the late 1930's and early 1940's, there was a strong movement in the United States to keep the country out of wars "over there".  Aviator Charles Lindberg was among the most vocal of the "Isolationists"--even going so far at to defend some of the actions of Hitler.  That effort at isolationism failed miserably, as Pearl Harbor dragged the US into the global conflict that perhaps is could have shortened by joining its allies earlier in the fight.

A new type of isolationism is taking root in Washington now--but instead of the entire country trying to wall itself off from what is going on in the rest of the world, it is just President Donald Trump looking to completely alienate himself from everyone.  I'm beginning to think that the President has made it his goal to burn all political capital he can--without actually accomplishing anything in office.

Neither friend nor foe is immune from personal attacks--usually on Twitter at all hours of the day and night.  Intimidation is obviously the MO the President likes to use--escalating actual thought-provoking dialogue into an exchange of insults in a matter of minutes.  Anyone attempting to challenge the President on his thoughts or opinions is not met with reasoned argument--but rather immediate put downs and public shaming.

But what happens when the President has shifted all of the names on the "allies" list to the "enemies" list?  Or what if there is a national crisis and not a single lawmaker, advisor, bureaucrat or pundit is willing to work with the man that went out of his way repeatedly to belittle and intimidate them?  It is certainly not unheard of in the White House.  President Andrew Johnson was so reviled by members of both parties that they all jumped at the first chance to impeach him for a relatively minor offense.

I had to remind myself this morning that we are not even six months into this administration--and the list of those aggrieved by the President could fill a good-sized city's phone book (if there was still a need to public phone books).  Did "drain the swamp" mean drive off everyone in it to leave yourself the king of an empty land?

If he wasn't an admitted animal hater, I'd recommend President Trump follow the advice of another White House isolationist--Harry Truman--who famously said that "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog".  Of course, the President would be on Twitter at 3:45 am telling the world what a lousy pet he had.

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