The very words “America First” have gained a social stigma accorded few things in American History; things such as “McCarthyism,” or “America for Americans,” or “Reverse Discrimination.” These words that have been made politically incorrect by the media wing of the Progressive Republocrat Party.
The original America First Committee was painted with the broad brush of anti-Americanism for opposing America’s entrance into WW II. The committee was established on September 4, 1940, by Yale Law School student R. Douglas Stuart, Jr . along with several other students, including future President Gerald Ford, future Peace Corps director Sargent Shriver, and future U.S. Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart. Future President John F. Kennedy contributed $100, along with a note saying “What you all are doing is vital.” It also attracted many national leaders such as General Robert E. Wood, the aviator Charles A. Lindbergh, and Senator Gerald P. Nye. The committee was dissolved on December 10, 1941 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought America into the war.
This was no insignificant student organization staging rallies on a few campuses. At its peak, America First claimed 800,000 due-paying members in 450 chapters. This was a mass movement of Americans who believed that entering WW II would not be in America’s best interests. Whether subsequent events lead you to believe that this was a correct position, it was a heartfelt belief of many and was certainly not based on anything other than seeking what they thought was best for America: America First.
Today we face another situation that many believe should lead us to the passionate cry for America First!
What is this situation? Is it the disastrous foreign and domestic policies of the current administration? While the first of these is forfeiting our position as world hegemon and the latter is eroding our economy and submerging our population in a migration invasion these are not the issues I am addressing today.
The issue that has me ready to climb on the rooftops and unfurl the flag of America First is the false god of free trade which has been the golden calf for the last four administrations. Ever since George the First declared that we were instituting a New World Order in 1991 America has been aggressively chasing free trade deals with nations from all over the world.
Using fast track authority to negotiate, wherein Congress cedes their authority to amend, international trade deals such as NAFTA, CAFTA, and KORUS FTA, the United States has opened its markets without tariffs or other barriers.
This has led to a massive flight of American industry overseas. Savvy industrialists could immediately see the value in manufacturing overseas with lower labor costs and less regulation as long as they still had unfettered access to the American market. Other countries also saw their new competitive
advantage. They could subsidize home industries and then dump their products below cost on the American market until they wiped out their American competitors, captured the niche, and then raise the prices again. A good example of this is what Japan did to the American TV industry or what India and China have done to textiles.
Is this free trade? No it is free in only one direction. These foreign nations still restrict their markets to American goods. They also subsidize their industries and dump their products below cost as described above. Some might say this is good. Let foreign tax payers subsidize our purchases. Look at the great deals we are getting. Now everyone can have a flat screen, a smartphone, and a laptop.
However, it doesn’t seem like such a good deal if you drive through backroads America and you see the shuttered factories: the abandoned remnants of what was once the greatest manufacturing nation in the History of the world. It doesn’t seem like such a good deal when you look at all the millions of American workers who have lost manufacturing jobs that paid a living wage and have had to accept a lower paying job in the service industry or have adjusted to living on the dole.
We have allowed politicians who masquerade as statesman to follow their belief that free trade will bring about world peace. This belief can be traced back more than two hundred years and began to make a mark in the world with the repeal of the Corn Laws in Great Britain in 1846. This led eventually to the British Empire embracing free trade. They did this believing it would give them a competitive advantage, since at the time they were the number one industrial nation on earth.
However, it acted in the reverse and within a half century America and Germany both with heavily protected markets passed up Britain and took the lead in manufacturing.
Today America is following the British Empire. We have opened our markets and are being supplanted as the industrial leader of the world by China which protects its markets. The question is, are we going to follow the British Empire into the trash heap of History? Or are we going to make the hard choices, shoulder the heavy burden, and re-industrialize America so we can once again stand alone as the industrial behemoth that bestrides the world?
If we believe as my favorite president once said, “After all, the chief business of the American people is business” then we should rise up and demand that our leaders quit sacrificing American jobs and American living standards on the altar of their free trade idol.
For if the business of America is business we must stop the fire sale of our manufacturing sector to foreign nations, many of whom are actually hostile to us. We must remember that the duty of our government is to protect and enhance the lives and fortunes of Americans. It is not to promote world peace, raise the standard of living for the citizens of other nations, or create a world government. We are not an international aid agency. We are not a free trade advocacy lobbyist before the court of world opinion. We are the United States of America, and all our policies should work for the benefit of Americans first.
It is easy to complain. It is easy to say what others are doing is wrong. It is harder to offer concrete suggestions for how things should be done. Here are my suggestions for a way to re-industrialize America, end the Great Recession, and improve the living standards of Americans.
I call my program Equitable Trade. I advocate for 100% reciprocity in trade and 100% equity in international commerce.
Under this program America should deal with other nations on a case by case basis predicated on how they deal with us. We should impose tariff for tariff, fee for fee, and fine for fine. Domestically I call for an end to all subsidies. Let the forces of the market prevail. At the same time any nation that subsidizes their industries should face a tariff on the subsidized good equal to the subsidy.
Diplomatically the complimentary policy should be a return to the traditional American position. Established by George Washington during his administration and enshrined in his farewell address, “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.” With Jefferson, “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations–entangling alliances with none, I deem [one of] the essential principles of our government, and consequently [one of] those which ought to shape its administration.”
So if it isn’t America first what is it? It is politicians seeking their own fame, their own counsel and their own benefit. It is those who want to be citizens of the world betraying those of us who are proud to be citizens of the United States of America. If we don’t stand up for what we believe do we think anyone else will? If we don’t rise up and demand that the leaders of America consider America first they will continue to consider America last. How do you think that will work out for your children and grandchildren?
Will we be the first generation of Americans to leave our posterity a nation poorer than the one we inherited? We will be unless we join together and declare it must be America First!
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2015 Contact Dr. Owens [email protected] Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens