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  1. #1
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Donald Trump says 'America First' like isolationists before World War II

    Donald Trump says 'America First' like isolationists before World War II
    Rick Hampson, USA TODAY 12:02 p.m. EDT April 10, 2016

    In embracing “America First’’ as his guiding foreign policy philosophy, Donald Trump appropriated — spontaneously, it seems — one of the most denigrated political slogans of the last century, and one that evokes an isolationism Trump himself explicitly rejects.

    “It’s a rotten term that evokes the naive idiots, defeatists and pro-Nazis who wanted to appease Hitler and make friends with him’’ before World War II, says Susan Dunn, author of 1940: F.D.R., Willkie, Lindbergh, Hitler — The Election Amid the Storm. That said, she doesn’t think the old phrase means much today.

    Trump’s use of an expression so dated and discredited reflects his willingness to dip into the past for catch phrases that, no matter their historical baggage, can still appeal to voters.

    During the Republican presidential campaign, Trump also has claimed to speak for “the silent majority,’’ a term coined in 1969 by Richard Nixon’s administration, and adopted Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign theme, “Make America great again.’’

    Trump’s rhetoric, though derivative, is effective, says Jennifer Wingard, an expert on the subject who teaches at the University of Houston.

    An expression like “America First” sounds vaguely and reassuringly familiar, even if (or maybe because) “you can’t quite place it or know why you know it,’’ she says.

    Plus, “it has an emotional resonance, especially if you feel you’ve lost a job because of foreign competition: ‘I’m an American. I come first.’’’

    Columnist Patrick Buchanan, an admirer of the original America First movement, says that “Trump’s phrase has a nice ring to it’’ and should ignite a debate over U.S. overseas commitments.

    Trump first used it in an interview last month with The New York Times. Asked whether his foreign policy philosophy could be described as “America First,’’ Trump said, “I like the expression. I am ‘America First.'’’

    Judging from the interview transcript, “he just seemed to like the sound of it when he heard it,’’ says Jennifer Mercieca, a historian of U.S. political discourse who teaches at Texas A&M. The Times, she jokes, “should charge him for the idea.’’

    The next day, in an interview with Fox News Channel, Trump doubled down: '’My policy is America First. It will always be America First.’’

    Trump's new 'silent majority'

    Last summer Trump also looked to the past for what would become another of his refrains. "In the old days, they used to use a term, 'the silent majority,’ ’’ he told an audience. “We have the silent majority back, folks."

    That was the term (originally suggested by Buchanan when he was a White House speechwriter) that Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew used to describe conservative “middle America,’’ whose members didn’t burn draft cards or otherwise protest the Vietnam War. It helped them get re-elected by a landslide in 1972.
    President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro T.

    President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro T. Agnew wave to delegates at the final session of the Republican National Convention in Miami on Aug. 24, 1972, after they accepted the party's nomination for re-election. (Photo: AP)

    But the phrase acquired a decidedly unfavorable odor after Nixon resigned in disgrace because of his role in the Watergate scandal cover up.

    Asked by The Washington Post whether “silent majority’’ didn’t remind voters of a president with whom few politicians even now want to be associated, Trump said, “Nah. Nobody remembers that.’’

    “Nobody thinks of Nixon,’’ he concluded. “I don’t think of Nixon when I think of the silent majority. The silent majority today, they’re going to vote for Trump.’’

    A similar calculation appears to have gone into Trump’s selection of the phrase for which he’s best known, “Make America great again.’’

    Trump liked Reagan’s old slogan so much he applied for a trademark in 2012. And last year he said he resented it being used by rivals, including Scott Walker and Ted Cruz. (The latter spoke the magic words when he declared his candidacy.)

    "That's my expression,’’ Trump told Fox News. “I’ve been using it all over the place. And I noticed that they're all copying it now. Everybody's using it. I was the first by a long shot.’’

    Cruz appears to share Trump’s taste for rhetorical chestnuts. At the GOP debate on Dec. 15, in fact, he said he believed in “an America-first foreign policy.’’

    Mercieca says Trump’s tendency to collect old campaign messages, rather than rely on speechwriters to come up with new ones, “is unusual, but that’s part of his attraction. He’s not taking advice or consulting with anybody, he’s listening to himself. He’s his own best adviser.’’

    But “the silent majority’’ and “Make America great again’’ were in the Political Rhetoric Hall of Fame when Trump found them. Not America First, which overnight went from one of the most popular rallying cries in U.S. politics to the most bankrupt.

    Slogan with ignominious roots

    In the late 1930s, most Americans wanted to stay out of war in Europe. After it began in fall 1939, some Yale students formed The America First Committee.

    Members included future Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart; future Yale President Kingman Brewster; future Peace Corps Director Sargent Shriver; and future President Gerald Ford (who later resigned for fear of being fired as an assistant coach on the football team).

    Soon, the establishment signed on. The committee’s president was the retired general Robert Wood, chairman of Sears & Roebuck, the nation’s leading retailer. Supporters included Henry Ford, the auto maker; Colonel Robert McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune; Minnesota meatpacker Jay Hormel; and Sterling Morton, president of Morton Salt.

    The American First movement was amazingly diverse, ranging from principled isolationists to Nazi sympathizers. Its basic assumption was that America was protected by two oceans and its vast land mass, and that intervention in Europe would turn out no better than it had in World War I.

    The movement’s most prominent speaker was Charles Lindbergh, who’d become America’s biggest hero when he flew a plane solo across the Atlantic in 1927. He argued that German victory was inevitable and that U.S. intervention would pointlessly antagonize the victors.

    With hundreds of chapters and thousands of members, America First was the largest anti-war group in U.S. history. But as the war went on, opinion slowly swung against isolationism. And the movement was crippled by a speech Lindbergh gave on Sept. 11, 1941, in which he complained about American Jews’ support for intervention, saying, “Their greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government.’’

    The Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor ended the movement. Three days later, the America First Committee’s board voted to disband, saying, “We are at war. … The primary objective is not difficult to state. It can be completely defined in one word: Victory.’’

    In the post-war era, which saw the establishment of the United Nations and NATO and the development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, the sentiments behind America First seemed even more obsolete.

    But they’ve never disappeared.

    Today, for Trump, American First sums up several notions: NATO is obsolete and America’s allies must shoulder more of their own defense; America’s trading partners must mend their ways or face higher tariffs; illegal immigration must be stopped.

    But the historian Adam Hochschild, who’s studied the pre-World War II period, says America First ignores a world in which the U.S. is “deeply enmeshed.‘’

    “Trump can no more successfully pretend we’re not involved than isolationists of the 1930s could,’’ he says. “How can we put ‘America First’ as far as climate change is concerned? Trump does not have the power to make rising ocean waters lap only at other countries’ shores.’’
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    The "America First" term was not Trump's, it was a term thrown at him in an interview on foreign policy with one of the major newspapers, either the New York Times or Washington Post.

    Most ordinary Americans believe in America First .... not only America First, but America First and Foremost. Why wouldn't we?

    It should also be noted that before WWII when the American First meant staying out of WWII, left the United States the only country that could save Europe from the Germans and Asia from the Japanese. So I think going back to this type of foreign policy certainly had its benefits to our ultimately winning the war. Had we been a target of Germany earlier, we might not have been around to move in and save the world in 3 years and 8 months.

    A strong and capable United States is the king-pin of peace on earth. Everyone in the world knows that. China knows it, Germany knows it, France knows it, Great Britain knows it, Korea knows it, Japan knows it. Everyone knows it. A bankrupt, overpopulated, uneducated, unemployed oligarchy "enmeshed" in everyone's business but our own, makes the United States as impotent as the weakest link in WWII. It is our independence, our freedom and containment that builds the strength and power we need to not only protect ourselves but ultimately protect the world from a WWIII environment.

    This is the peace through strength foreign policy Trump is talking about. He's the only one talking about it because he's the only one who understands what is actually happening not only n our country but throughout the world. These other candidates are just more of the stupid incompetent politicians that have pulled US down into the mess we're in.

    And to whoever these women are who vote in these polls that give Trump these bizarre unfavorables: If you think for a minute what some man says to you after you've been mean to the man matters, let me tell you, it doesn't. More women are more hateful to men than men are to them. I've listened to women talk about their husbands and boyfriends behind their backs in ways that have shocked me my whole life. They talk down to them, they try to demean them, they want to put them down to try to build themselves up. This is not how we are supposed to be. Yes, we want equal rights, yes we want equal pay, yes we want our rights and privacy, but imagine a world without our wonderful American men? And just remember, when you're not with your girlfriends talking down the men in your life, they're talking about you behind your back. And this has gone on for so long that guess what? Men are now the gossipy air-heads some women work so hard to be. It's a race to the bottom. STOP IT.

    If you insult a man, embarrass a man, lie about a man, demean a man .... he has every right in the world to throw it right back in your face. THAT is equal rights in the United States, and Donald Trump is one of the wonderful men of America who understands that and lives it. I don't want that to change. Look around .... see how many women who stay at home, don't work, their husbands go off to work, come home to a dirty house and the wife has her "honey do" list, take out the garbage, help fix dinner, do the dishes, go the store, etc., etc., etc. If you both work, then dividing up household chores makes perfect sense, but when only 1 works, that's not equal rights, that's just wrong.

    Our country is falling apart faster than we can count and measure the ways. So for anything that Donald Trump said to some celebrity woman in retort to something she said to him to even be in the discussion in this election is just wrong. So don't fall for it, ladies, the gentlemen of our country deserve better, they deserve their jobs and wages back, they deserve secure employment they can rely on, same as we do if we want or need to work. There is no "gender gap" in Donald Trump, unless you think a double-standard where women can say anything they want about or to men, but men can't say anything about or to women. Please keep your eyes on the ball, and that ball is stopping illegal immigration, reducing legal immigration, fixing our bad trade deals, rebuilding our infrastructure and military, getting our budget under control, fixing our health care and education systems, and taking care of our Vets. We do all of this and there is no doubt that America will be great again, and all of our lives will be improved.
    Last edited by Judy; 04-10-2016 at 04:22 PM.
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