President Trump overturned Obama’s foreign policy in his speech to the United Nations on Tuesday, repudiating the transnational consensus that elevated so-called soft power and provided an international veto over the use of American military force. While appearing to idealize the United Nations, the president sharply rebuked its corrupt bureaucratic reality, and repeatedly emphasized sovereignty and self-interest as the overriding principle of his administration. Conservatives worried about Trump’s recent rapprochement with liberal congressional leaders should feel confident after Tuesday, that at least on matters of foreign policy, the liberal establishment in Washington and Europe has zero influence with this administration.
Trump placed himself firmly on the side of American exceptionalism, emphasizing “we the people” as the foundation of American greatness, stating that he “was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people, where it belongs.” The United Nations could not be more opposed to the concept of popular sovereignty. A full third of their members are not democracies, and perhaps an additional third are democracies in name only, ruled by elites that occasional rotate, but never change.
Trump called out the UN for their corruption and bureaucratic mindset, pointing out that “it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.” Presumably, the President had in mind such luminaries as Venezuela, China, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia. Turtle Bay’s misdeeds are so numerous and well documented that searching “UN corruption” in Google yields 24 million results.
America is exceptional for declaring the individual sovereign “as endowed by their creator.” After 241 years, this concept is still radical and rejected by much of the world, including today’s Washington establishment, which continuously seeks greater power to direct the social and economic activity of its citizens. Barack Obama best summed up the dismissive attitude of transnational elites by saying he believed in American exceptionalism as “the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism,” thereby ignoring America’s revolutionary concept of freedom as the default and proper state of mankind.
Trump reaffirmed that “in America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign” and that the duty of government is “to serve their needs, ensure their safety, [and] preserve their rights.” Trump’s belief in American sovereignty vis-à-vis the world — mentioned 21 times in his speech — is merely a higher order iteration of his belief in the sovereignty of the citizen. Trump’s desire to devolve power from institutions to the individual stands in stark contrast to the Democrat’s desire to nationalize healthcare, or the European Union’s desire to govern without elections. Trump took aim at this elitist mentality, calling out the UN for focusing not “on results, but on bureaucracy and process.”
From a partisan standpoint, Trump saved his great opprobrium for “the socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro [that] has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on [Venezuela]… by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried.” Yet Venezuela’s failed ideology is indistinguishable from the politics of self-described socialist Bernie Sanders, darling of the Left. Advocating single-payer, or government run, healthcare is now a litmus test for Democrats longing to catch up with the collectivist policies of a supposedly more civilized Europe. Trump went even further:
The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented. From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure. Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems.
While Trump does not specifically reference liberal or socialists in the United States, the Left’s enthusiasm for Cuban healthcare or Chavez-style social justice, to say nothing of their intransigence to anti-communism during the Cold War, is well known. By referencing “discredited ideologies” and “cruel systems,” Trump could be talking about America’s grotesque inner city public school system, to cite but one example of the many socialist policies under which America suffers.
Trump presented the world through an ideological prism that pits individual and national sovereignty unapologetically pursuing self-interest on one side, versus transnational kleptocratic socialism masquerading as social justice on the other. While Trump’s domestic policies remain agonizingly unclear in some respects, conservatives should rejoice at the president’s willingness to define and defend the core elements of their worldview, and his eagerness to fight America’s enemies, both foreign and domestic.
P. H. Guthrie is a former Republican campaign operative. His work has appeared in USA Today, Real Clear Politics, The Federalist, and The Daily Caller. He has also appeared on "The Dan Caplis Show" on KNUS 710. He currently resides in the Washington, D.C. area. Follow him on Twitter @PHGuthrie. To read more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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