As a brand, America First has triumphed within the Republican Party; as a movement, its fate is far more uncertain. Republican politicians now use the term “America First,” but if it is just a new label for George W. Bush era policies, it’s a hollow victory. To be meaningful, America First must be a resurrection of the immigration and foreign policy initiatives espoused by the Pat Buchanan insurgencies and the 2016 Trump campaign—what could perhaps be called a paleoconservative comeback. That is indeed what much-persecuted Groyper wunderkind Nick Fuentes, who has effectively seized control of the term with his America First podcast, seems to want. But the GOP/GAP still appears ominously uncertain.
American nationalists today have a more difficult challenge because American institutions themselves (the American “state”) are now directed against the American people (the American “nation”). Those who want to defend “America First” will have to be more specific about what “America” now represents.
The “America” of 2021 is arguably the most culturally destructive force in the world, pushing Open Borders, cultural degeneracy, and massive instability on recalcitrant countries all over the globe. The rainbow Gay Pride flags flying at American embassies all around the world are a more significant symbol of America than Old Glory itself. They represent the American Ruling Class’s ambition to change social attitudes (and undermine traditional governments) in every country on Earth [LGBTQ Pride month is coming. Can Pride events change attitudes in conservative countries?, by Philip Ayoub, Douglas Page, and Sam Whitt, Washington Post, May 18, 2021].
This can even be seen in the message America sends its would-be soldiers—while other countries appeal to history and patriotism, the U.S. implies that joining its military is a way to discover yourself and promote Politically Correct values.
These values include mass immigration and diversity. The Biden Administration has managed to create a diplomatic dispute with Mexico by encouraging waves of Central American migrants to flood our country (and theirs), an interesting example of hurting relations with another country for the sake of destroying your own national interest [“High-level chess”: How Biden is navigating his relationship with Mexico’s President “AMLO,” by Courtney Subramanian, Lauren Villagran, Rafael Carranza, and David Agren, USA Today, May 7, 2021].
Yet as liberal columnist Michael Tracey points out, there isn’t much difference between populist Republicans like Lauren Boebert or Establishment leaders like Kevin McCarthy when it comes to Israel [“America First” Conservatives Declare: “Actually, We Meant Israel First," MTracey.Substack.com, May 14, 2021].
And the phrase “America First” is even being used by several politicians and activist groups to attack Joe Biden for not being sufficiently opposed to Russia.
American pipeline and jobs? No.— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) May 19, 2021
Russian pipeline and jobs? Yes.
President Biden, if you’re can’t put America First, can you at least not put Russia first?
Joe Biden is putting Russia first and America last.— ACT For America (@ACTforAmerica) May 20, 2021
Sounds like President Biden will enable a Russian pipeline to move forward... after killing the Keystone pipeline.— Governor Kristi Noem (@GovKristiNoem) May 18, 2021
So much for America-first energy policy. Looks like President Biden is prioritizing Russian energy over American energy and Russian jobs over American jobs. https://t.co/lBBgeGr3iD
But as this is written, Cruz’s tweet, from which we draw our featured image, bemoaning the “Emasculated” American military compared to Russia is “Trending” on Twitter and Cruz is getting the usual savaging [Sen. Ted Cruz slams ‘emasculated’ U.S. military depicted in Army ad campaign, by Benjamin Wermund, Houston Chronicle, May 20, 2021]. His critics don’t seem to understand that Cruz wants an even tougher policy on Russia than do—and that this isn’t to his credit.
“America First,” a slogan born out of the original non-interventionist movement, now signifies nothing important when it comes to foreign policy. It is being used to defend the same reflexive anti-Russia and pro-Israel stances of the Bush Administration or the Mitt Romney candidacy. Whatever your view on Russia or America, neither country should take priority or focus off of what’s happening in America itself.
And what’s happening here is an immigration disaster. But there’s little action from congressional Republicans, even as polling shows that GOP voters are increasingly nationalist on immigration issues. Amazingly, a greater percentage of Republicans today want a border wall now than in 2015, before President Trump’s term [Republicans’ hostility grows toward illegal immigrants as party attacks Biden on border, by Chris Kahan and David Morgan, Reuters, March 17, 2021].
Yet, unbelievably, the GOP Congressional leadership is attacking President Biden on immigration from the left. When GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy visited the border, accompanied by about a dozen other Republican congressmen, he called the situation a “human heartbreak” and complained that there wasn’t enough funding for “migrants” (Regime-speak for illegal aliens) [GOP lawmakers slam Biden after visit to migrant detention center at border, by Mariam Khan and Ben Gittleson, ABC News, March 15, 2021].
Mike Pompeo has bashed Joe Biden for not restoring the Trump-era immigration arrangements [Exclusive–Mike Pompeo: Biden has unleashed myriad crises on America, World, Republicans Must ‘Never Give An Inch,’ by Matthew Boyle, Breitbart, May 19, 2021]. But beyond that, there is nothing.
This is all the more remarkable because even Leftist outlets like MSNBC think Biden is vulnerable on the issue. Journalist Alicia’s Menendez’s recent column noted the “seeming underestimation by the Biden administration of the bureaucratic and legal obstacles it would need to maneuver around and on the processes it would need to put in place expeditiously to deliver on said promises” [Biden’s struggling on immigration. It’s not all Trump’s fault, April 28, 2021].
The GOP has an opportunity to pin the Joe Biden down with his own words. However, besides simply criticizing the Biden Administration on the border crisis, no Republicans seem to be stepping up to offer a positive strategy.
This includes Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is perhaps the leading non- candidate for 2024 whose last name is not “Trump” or “Pence.” DeSantis has attacked the Biden Administration for abandoning the use of detainers, notices from ICE that an agency should hold someone arrested for 48 hours so they can be deported [Gov. Ron DeSantis rails against President Biden’s immigration policy, by Thomas Mates, ClickOrlando, April 1, 2021]. However, there is no talk of an immigration moratorium from the governor, let alone a call for Birthright Citizenship reform to staunch the political damage of the Biden Rush. It’s purely reactive, anti-Biden rhetoric.
Nor, to be fair to De Santis, is this leadership coming from anyone else. The entire GOP seems to be missing in action. While illegal border crossings are at a 20-year high, monthly deportations by ICE are at an all-time low [ICE deportations fell in April to lowest monthly level on record, enforcement data shows, by Nick Miroff, Washington Post, May 5, 2021]. This should be an opportunity for a populist Republican to step forward. However, we’re hearing more rhetoric about Israel than we are about America First.
My personal take: the problem is an unbreachable divide within American conservatism. For those young nationalists who hear nothing but Critical Race Theory, anti-white politics, radical Leftist social values preached in classrooms and in entertainment, there’s nothing left to conserve. To go further, those who hold power in America today are defending all that is wrong with the world.
There’s a doublethink regarding our own country – because there’s a sense that it’s not our own country. Young nationalists are homesick and nostalgic for an America that they’ve never experienced. They are nationalists without a nation.
Meanwhile, older Americans, and those within Conservatism Inc. who pander to them, seem unable to adjust to new political and cultural realities. This is not Ronald Reagan’s “Shining City on a Hill,” or even George W. Bush’s Christian America. The rot has sunk deep, even to the point where it has subverted “conservative” institutions like the military.
Today’s dissidents are not people burning their draft cards, but those who want to defend America. However, even this noble impulse might be mistaken. Why should Americans, especially European-Americans, continue to fight for a System that discriminates against them and subsidizes racial hatred?
More broadly, if America’s institutions won’t defend patriots’ most basic rights, why should patriots defend America’s institutions?
Conservative chest-thumping about fighting Russia or China comes off as vaguely pathetic when the trumpet has sounded retreat for every battle at home—above all, for the battle over immigration, which literally determines who makes up the country. The country is being invaded right here, right now. Nonetheless, the GOP is fixated on imaginary foes or friends an ocean away.
What’s needed is not simply another skilled politician. Even the 2016 Trump, if he could somehow be resurrected, would not be enough. The challenge we confront is almost spiritual in nature, a quest to recapture what it is to be “American.” The answer will involve confronting the issues of immigration, identity and race that the GOP has been suppressing for more than half a century.
More than a politician, America needs something like a prophet.
James Kirkpatrick [Email him |Tweet him @VDAREJamesK] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc. His latest book is Conservatism Inc.: The Battle for the American Right. Read VDARE.com Editor Peter Brimelow's Preface here.