America First

The two words that jumped out at me during the inaugural speech weren't "American carnage," but "America First."

This isn't the first time that Trump has used the phrase, of course, and people were worried when it popped up in the middle of last year.

Any student of history knows why.

Initially "America First" wasn't necessarily so noxious when it cropped up in the 1930s. The first people to use the phrase, Yale University students, remembered well George Washington's worries about "entangling alliances," as well as the undisputed fact that the Atlantic Ocean protected the United States of America from European threats.

Unfortunately, these well-meaning folks were joined by others in opposing a war in faraway Europe. One group was the anti-Semites, some of whom were actually expelled from the America First Committee. Another was the American Communists, who very carefully toed the Party line in denouncing the war and opposing U.S. involvement.

However, two subsequent events crippled the "America First" and related movements. In mid-1941, Hitler broke his agreement with the USSR and invaded it instead. After that, the US Communists who had previously urged the US to stay out of the war suddenly began urging the US to get into the war. The other event, of course, was Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, after which even Charles Lindbergh couldn't support an isolationist view. (This also changed some of the original Yale students; Gerald Ford, previously a confirmed isolationist, became a confirmed internationalist because of this World War II experiences.)

Now, many years later, Trump happens - and he intentionally uses the "America First" slogan again. There are three schools of thought regarding this.

The first two schools of thought happen with any unpopular President, who is sometimes criticized as extremely stupid, and at other times as extremely devious. (Obama, Bush 43, et al have had both charges leveled against them.)

OPTION 1: Trump is so stupid that he doesn't even know that America First was used by opponents to World War II.

OPTION 2: Trump is so devious that he is intentionally using the phrase America First, in advance of his plans to abandon all of our allies and to throw Jared Kushner into a concentration camp.

But there is an option 3.

OPTION 3: Trump is well aware of the former meaning of the phrase, but as far as he's concerned he has given the phrase a new meaning, a great and spectacular meaning, and the most amazing meaning that it has ever had. For him, America First simply means America first, and complicating the issue by attaching other meanings to the phrase is deplorable.

For several reasons, including his son-in-law and his friendship for Israel, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that President Trump is not a National Socialist, and that he simply means "America first" when he says "America First."

Of course, how to make "America first" is a completely different question altogether...
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