Trump's "America First" Policy Will Woo Jacksonians
Trump hasn’t shown restraint in calling out America’s enemies in explicit terms. He used the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” during his first annual address to Congress, while doubling down and labeling the Islamic state a “network of lawless savages.”
This is what these voters were waiting to hear. If America has enemies, call them what they are. Mealy-mouthed descriptions of what this country may spend blood and treasure on brings predictably tepid responses from voters most likely to bear the costs.
After Trump made it clear he means to protect American interests and blow up ISIS, most of his supporters are willing to give him leeway on military action that they would have disapproved of under other leadership.
When Trump attacked Syria, American honor lost after Obama’s disastrous red-line failure seemed restored, and the so-called “mother of all bombs” hit on Afghanistan was a welcome use of strength in a war against a once again recognized foe.
It shouldn’t be assumed that these strikes mean that the United States is succeeding in its international objectives. Dropping bomb after bomb won’t win the war against Islamists, it won’t fix the absurdly complex situation in the Middle East, and it certainly doesn’t address the problem of the rising great-power threat of China edging the United States out of the South China Sea.
However, if the war on radical Islamists is about winning hearts and minds, the most powerful ones to win over are the American people. Moreover, the sudden demonstration that the United States is at least willing to use considerable force when crossed undeniably sends a message to international rivals. Much like how Ronald Reagan gained respect from the Soviet Union after he fired striking air traffic controllers, Trump has sent a message that he is willing to use limited, but overwhelming force when crossed.
Trump’s recent strikes along with a change in rhetoric will go a long way toward restoring American power and prestige amongst Jacksonians. Time will tell if he’s able to leverage this change into long-term success.
Jarrett Stepman is an editor for The Daily Signal. Opinions expressed on this website are his own and not those of any other person or entity.
Image: President Donald J. Trump departs from the Pentagon alongside Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Jan. 27, 2017. Flickr/Jim Mattis