Joe Biden's Concept of an American Nation
Like millions of others, I listened to President Trump's Farewell Address with a mix of admiration and sorrow. The president's great accomplishments are impossible to refute — the creation of a booming economy, record tax cuts for ordinary Americans, restoring our military, securing our borders, cutting regulations, and two vaccines in record time. No president has accomplished as much even in eight years, to say nothing of four.
The most important part of the president's address, however, had to do with the preservation of belief in America as a nation. We are united, the president said, "by our common conviction that America is the greatest nation in all of history." Those are words we will not hear from President Biden, nor anything else about American exceptionalism. President Trump stressed that under his administration, "we reclaimed our sovereignty" with respect to the United Nations, NATO, and various international agreements. His "greatest legacy" was to "put the American people back in charge of our country." The danger is that Biden will reverse this democratic populism, along with so much else that President Trump has accomplished. As the president wrote, "The key to national greatest lies in sustaining and instilling our shared national identity."
I fear that Biden and those he has chosen for his Cabinet have no idea of a "shared national identity" other than their ideal of "diversity." Diversity, however, cannot be a source of "shared" identity — if anything, it is a means of eradicating the shared values, traditions, and heroes that President Trump spoke of.
More to the point, Biden's conception of America not only "gets in the way" of national sovereignty, but actively opposes it. Biden is a globalist whose loyalty is to transnational organizations like the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, the World Trade Organization, and other global institutions and non-profits. He will seek to undermine national sovereignty because he believes in world governance, not in governance by nation-states.
These views are shared by Antony Blinken, Biden's choice for secretary of state. In an interview with Walter Russell Mead (July 9, 2020), Blinken spoke of finding "new ways to cooperate among nations." "There are now all sorts of groups and individuals," Blinken stated, with "veto authority" over "the decisions of traditional sources of authority and decision making, like a national government[.]" As is common among globalists, Blinken speaks of transferring American sovereignty to international alliances and institutions. Blinken's approach to China, for example, would seem to rule out unilateral action: "We need to rally our allies and partners," he says, not go it on our own.
One action that Blinken believes would "rally our allies" is a return to the Iran JCPOA agreement. That agreement, Blinken thinks, would restrain Iran's nuclear ambitions by "jointly" confronting "Iran's actions and provocations." So Blinken thinks a group of nations asking nicely will cause Iran to end its nuclear weapons program? Is this the manner in which Blinken intends to defend our nation?
America did not wait to check with our allies before entering WWII on Dec. 8, 1941, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the men and women who swerved in WWII served as Americans in defense of America as a sovereign nation — not as soldiers in an international force, regardless of coordination with our allies. Our military strategy was not subject to "veto authority" by foreign nations, non-profits, or global institutions, and our soldiers were not subject to prosecution in international courts.
A nation cannot succeed if it is subject to the "veto" of international institutions, or if its people are divided into groups at odds with one another. This is especially the case in wartime, but even during peacetime, the nation's economy and status will suffer, and its ability to defend itself will decline. A young person who believes in the priority of his hyphenated identity will not rush out to defend the nation in time of war.
Nor will a young person filled with resentment possess the faith in the future that makes possible the sacrifice it takes to educate himself and to strive for excellence in his profession. His energies will be sapped by the resentment he feels toward others at school and in the workplace. His attitude will be one of defeatism, and defeatism is not the attitude that sparks entrepreneurial greatness or even modest success. Defeatism is a parasite that saps the lifeblood out of an organism, and out of a nation as well.
What President Trump warned us of is the continuance of a nation divided against itself. Certainly, he should know better than anyone, for he was the victim of a ceaseless and cynical campaign to divide the country and undermine faith in its elected leader. If we continue down the course we are on — the fostering of ever more grievances and resentments — we will lose sight entirely of that ideal of America as "one Nation under God, indivisible, and with liberty and justice for all." We will not even be able to conceive of the idea of a "nation" as a polity devoted to higher ideals that apply to all citizens indiscriminately. We will automatically do as progressives are teaching us to do: consider ourselves members of separate groups existing within no nation at all and seeking advantage and reparations at the expense of other groups.
President Biden has done nothing to indicate he opposes this destruction of the idea of America as a nation. While he gives lip service to "unity," what he means by unity is the silencing of the opposition's ability to criticize his policies — policies intended to foster ever greater hyphenated identity. That is the point of his intention to sign an executive order granting permanent residence to 20 million illegals now living in the U.S., and to allow millions more to enter unchallenged. That is the point of an executive order opening travel to the U.S. from states associated with Muslim terrorism. That is also the point of the expansion of economic opportunities that exclude whites on the basis of race, or that exclude opportunities to white males, as did his selection criterion for his vice president.
The more that government policies are based on hyphenated identity, the more we will lose sight of the idea of America as one people. Once that idea is lost entirely, it will be impossible to restore, and our country — one can no longer at that point say "nation" — will devolve into what amounts to a prolonged war of acrimony, political fraud, violent protest, and vicious rhetoric such as we saw in 2020. At that point, with many groups contending for supremacy, one can no longer speak of the American nation. It was that, the idea of America as a truly united nation with each citizen loyal to it, that President Trump strove to preserve for four years and beseeched us to preserve after his leaving office.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).
Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.