Joe Barbieri ‘23
In a recent interview with the TODAY Show, Former President George W. Bush made what some considered controversial remarks on the current state of the Republican Party. While on the show, President Bush characterized the GOP as being, “isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent nativist.”
While the former president has since stated that he regrets making such comments as they were “painted with too broad a brush”, the comments are correct in describing the Republican Party in the age of Trumpism.
In terms of isolationist policies, it is very true that under the Trump administration, the United States turned inward and pulled out of many international institutions and agreements. For example, the United States pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the UN Human Rights Council.
In my opinion, pulling out of the UN Human Rights Council is one of President Trump’s greatest mistakes. In the wake of an emerging and powerful China, it is even more necessary for the United States to commit and fight human rights abuses around the world. For example, the continuing human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in China are not only ongoing but can not be solved with a United States that is isolationist.
For these international institutions to be at their most powerful, the presence of a strong and committed United States is as urgent as ever.
The Republican Party under President Trump can also be characterized as radically protectionist, as the current trade war with China was started under the Trump administration. These administrative actions have led to a back and forth battle of rising tariffs with no end in sight.
Unfortunately, the Republican Party in many forms can also be described as nativist, as the rhetoric surrounding the party is seemingly against immigration.
It seems that many are familiar with the cliched phrase that this nation was built by immigrants. Despite its triteness, this statement is very much correct. And it is important as ever to remember this as debates surrounding immigration continue to heat up among Democrats and Republicans.
It is also important to liberalize trade as a result of the ongoing tensions between the United States and China. As immigration to China is next to impossible, the US should focus on expanding immigration as doing so would lead to an increase in skilled immigrants who can help the economy.
The creation of the America First Caucus is not only disturbing but it should be condemned in every way possible. In its founding document, the caucus stated that it is united around a “common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions” and that “history has shown that societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country.”
As shocking as it is that a caucus based on these beliefs is being created, it serves only as a reflection of the current politics of Trump’s Republican Party.
The framework and beliefs surrounding this caucus are truly un-American. We have to dispel this fictitious belief that the United States is better off without immigrants of differing cultures, beliefs, and religions.
Unfortunately, George W. Bush’s comments are reflective of the current Republican Party. If the GOP wants to gain power again, it must step away from these policies of isolationism, protectionism, and nativism. Failure to do so will result in a bleak future for the GOP.