My whole life I have taken for granted America’s leadership in the world. America’s might and majesty were cornerstones of international relations, cooperation and diplomacy. We were a beacon and balance to the world. America has been imperfect – sometimes disastrously so – but it always seemed to me bent toward the belief that America and the world could be made more perfect.
Well, that time has come to a close. America is exiting the world stage. Donald Trump is drawing the curtains.
On Trump’s first full weekday in office, he, and thus America, abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership. As The New York Times reported it:
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“President Trump upended America’s traditional, bipartisan trade policy on Monday as he formally abandoned the ambitious, 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership brokered by his predecessor and declared an end to the era of multinational trade agreements that defined global economics for decades.”
Trump has had, and continues to have, an unhealthy and inexplicable admiration for the world’s strongmen, dictators and authoritarian regimes – Russia and Vladimir Putin stand out among the rest – while simultaneously chiding and chastising America’s traditional allies and those countries’ leaders.
From the way Trump has treated America’s neighbors – Mexico about immigrants and the financing of his ridiculous wall, Canada over trade practices on energy, lumber and dairy (he called policies surrounding dairy trade “a disgrace”) – to the way he has treated our friends in Europe, Trump is single-handedly ushering in a new era of American decline.
Last month in Europe, Trump was as boorish and belligerent as it was possible to be, lashing out at our NATO allies about their military spending just after having been gracious and magnanimous to leaders in the Middle East.
Then last week Trump thumbed his nose at the world and the planet by announcing that he would pull America out of the Paris climate accord, even though a Yale survey found the agreement was popular and a majority of Americans in every state – including those that Trump won – wanted the United States to stay in the agreement.
But even beyond whether or not it was popular, staying in was right. More than 190 countries – most of the countries on the planet – are signatories to the agreement. We have one planet. It is in trouble. The world must band together to save it. How does it look for the world’s last remaining superpower to simply walk away?
This is not putting America first, this is putting America on a path of regression and isolationism. This is putting our future and the future of the planet in peril. This is dumb, hazardous and shortsighted.
Trump justified his move using faulty information, citing issues that are not even in the agreement and flat-out lying. What else is new? Perhaps his most memorable line from his speech about the withdrawal was:
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris. I promised I would exit or renegotiate any deal which fails to serve America’s interests.”
The problem is that, as PolitiFact pointed out:
“Clinton won almost 60 percent of the vote in Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh. The percentage was even higher in many precincts within the city of Pittsburgh itself. (Allegheny County includes a range of suburbs in addition to the city.)”
Indeed, the mayor of Pittsburgh, Bill Peduto, told CNN after the speech: “The city of Pittsburgh voted for Hillary Clinton with nearly 80 percent of the vote.” Later on CNN, Peduto was asked if he had a message for Trump. Peduto responded: “What you did was not only bad for the economy of this country, but also weakened America in this world.”
In fact, mayors, governors and business leaders across the country were quick to rebuke Trump’s horrendous decision and to dedicate themselves to the spirit of the agreement.
Then, for me, the icing on the cake was Trump’s absolute lack of grace and tact in his response to the London terror attacks over the weekend. His first response was not to express his horror and extend America’s condolences and offer American assistance. No, that would have required that he possess a shred of empathy and common decency.
Instead, his first instinct was to use the attacks as political fodder to advance his own failed domestic agenda to impose a “travel ban.”
Shortly after the attacks, while people were still trying to get their minds around what exactly had happened in London, Trump tweeted:
“We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!”
(Note that Trump again calls it a “ban,” although White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who retweeted this message, scolded the media in January for calling Trump’s ban a ban, saying: “This is not a Muslim ban, it’s not a travel ban, it’s a vetting system to keep America safe.” Trump is killing himself in the courts with his own words.)
Trump is pulling America back and pulling America down. We are now witnessing the incredible shrinking America, and it’s a sad sight to behold.