To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”
He also called it a tired dogma. One that would get us into trouble.
Former President George W Bush used similar worlds a few hours ago. He called this empty right wing form of populism on its adoption of empty ideologies, such as white supremacy. While he did not use the words, he did refer, directly, to “blood and soil,” first used by the German Nazis, and revived by Richard Spencer and others at Charlottesville. In that sense, it was a direct echo of McCain’s words.
In a remarkable echo to what McCain said, Bush also stated:
America is not immune from these trends. In recent decades, public confidence in our institutions has declined. Our governing class has often been paralyzed in the face of obvious and pressing needs. The American dream of upward mobility seems out of reach for some who feel left behind in a changing economy. Discontent deepened and sharpened partisan conflicts. Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.
Which brings me to this moment. Trumpism relies on these crazy theories, such as birtherism. It encourage theories such as the fires in Northern California were started by illegals, or the cartels…or worst, directed energy weapons, or HAARP. Then there are the chem trails, that as much as you look for, have no logical tie, but were somehow responsible. This is hardly accidental. For those theories help to weaken trust in institutions and in facts.
Trumpism also relies on the likes of Alex Jones, a hyper nationalist, white supremacist, who has spread the idea that there are crisis actors, and Sandy Hook never happened. Our personal favorite is recent. Jesus campos, the guard who was shot in Vegas by the Vegas shooter was killed, only to emerge, Jesus like at the Ellen Degeneeris show. You would think that after such a colosal error, Jones would run an apology, but like the president, he just doubles down.
That paragraph though is also an astute diagnosis. Our society is stuck with a great income divide, that leave people desperate for a life that is out of reach. This is the perfect recipe for populists like Donald Trump.
This paragraph is pregnant with history:
We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism – forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America. We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade – forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.
Globalization is not unprecedented. And the last time that it failed and we saw a massive retrenchment into nationalism and protectionist, we had two world wars. This distrust of the other and the immigrant is also not unprecedented. Bush called on Trumpism for what it is, a nativist, naive perhaps, but very dangerous view of the world.
Then there is his direct address to the Russian Intelligence services and thier role in the 2016 election. This is one that the current president has yet to address directly.
America is experiencing the sustained attempt by a hostile power to feed and exploit our country’s divisions. According to our intelligence services, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other. This effort is broad, systematic and stealthy, it’s conducted across a range of social media platforms. Ultimately, this assault won’t succeed. But foreign aggressions – including cyber-attacks, disinformation and financial influence – should not be downplayed or tolerated. This is a clear case where the strength of our democracy begins at home. We must secure our electoral infrastructure and protect our electoral system from subversion.
The reality is that we need to respond to what has become a very real war in the cyber shadows. One that the current administration, for reasons that baffle most of us, has yet to address. In fact, the president may go on the attack against all, except one person: Vladimir Putin. And when he gets called on it, he not only goes on the attack, but has even claimed you cannot attack the president.
This is not without precedent. Even if the President’s defenders declare that it is unconscionable to be critical of Trump, and try to normalize his ideology and half cocked populism. Teddy Roosevelt once said that “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president… is morally treasonable to the American public.”
We are living in a remarkable moment, when many of the people who, in some ways, set the stage for Trump are now highly critical of this toxic ideology. While we expect Trump to fight back, as he has promised, the list of those he has to fight back continues to grow.
Moreover, his polling numbers continue to be among the lowest in American history and even his ability to do the job has now been questioned.
You can go read the rest of the speech here. It is remarkable in its lucidity and its frontal attack on Trumpism as a stale ideology that is dangerous to the country.