The usual sneering of the anti-intellectual fake left has greeted President Donald Trump’s offer to buy Greenland from the Danes. Leading the way as usual was the insufferable Guardian bt a quote at Esquire nicely summarised the view:
This is Mad King stuff. He says he wants to buy something—and some people—who are not for sale, and he demands that Denmark take this bubbling insanity seriously, and when they don’t, he insults them by cancelling a state visit. For a while on Tuesday night, I thought it was funny. Then, I looked it up and realized that Denmark has been one hellaciously good ally. It lost 43 soldiers in Afghanistan before withdrawing its troops in 2013. Those 43 deaths represent the highest per capita death rate of any member of the coalition, including the United States. And now it declines to participate in the grandiose fantasy of an increasingly unmoored president*, and it gets rewarded with the worst kind of diplomatic insult.
The strategic merits of such a buy are obvious. Trump’s style is always off the wall. And?
Nearly everything I have read from the usual fake left suspects on this subject comes from a position of ironic arrogance and ignorance. According to the fake lefties, the Greenland purchase is further evidence of the capriciousness and ego of a deranged US President with no anchor to anything beyond his own narcissism.
Lost on these perennial thin-slicers is the fact that Donald Trump is operating from within a deep (and is some ways admirable) US political tradition called “Jacksonianism”, via Wikipaedia:
Jacksonian democracy was a 19th-century political philosophy in the United States that expanded suffrage to most white men over the age of 21, and restructured a number of federal institutions. Originating with the seventh president, Andrew Jackson, and his supporters, it became the nation’s dominant political worldview for a generation. The term itself was in active use by the 1830s.
This era, called the Jacksonian Era (or Second Party System) by historians and political scientists, lasted roughly from Jackson’s 1828 election as president until slavery became the dominant issue in 1854 and the political repercussions of the American Civil War dramatically reshaped American politics. It emerged when the long-dominant Democratic-Republican Party became factionalized around the 1824 election. Jackson’s supporters began to form the modern Democratic Party and his rivals John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay created the National Republican Party, which would afterward combine with other anti-Jackson political groups to form the Whig Party.
Broadly speaking, the era was characterized by a democratic spirit and built upon Jackson’s equal political policy (subsequent to ending what he termed a “monopoly” of government by elites). Even before the Jacksonian era began, suffrage had been extended to a majority of white male adult citizens, a result the Jacksonians celebrated. Jacksonian democracy also promoted the strength of the presidency and executive branch at the expense of Congress, while also seeking to broaden the public’s participation in government. The Jacksonians demanded elected (not appointed) judges and rewrote many state constitutions to reflect the new values. In national terms, they favored geographical expansion, justifying it in terms of manifest destiny. There was usually a consensus among both Jacksonians and Whigs that battles over slavery should be avoided.
Jackson’s expansion of democracy was largely limited to Americans of European descent and voting rights were extended to adult white males only. There was little or no progress (and in some cases, a regression) for the rights of African Americans and Native Americans during the extensive period of Jacksonian Democracy, spanning from 1829 – 1860.
Andrew Jackson himself made the Tennessee purchase from the Chickasaw Indians as he expended the putative United States.
Obviously Jacksonianism suffers from the shortcomings of early humanism in its failure to address slavery and in the conquest and subjugation of the West. But its political traditions are deeply democratic and its economic impulses liberal such that, in the sweep of history, Jacksonianism still holds the light on the hill.
Back to Greenland, Jacksonianism is very reticent to engage internationally at all, via Walter Russel Mead:
The distinctively American populism Trump espouses is rooted in the thought and culture of the country’s first populist president, Andrew Jackson. For Jacksonians—who formed the core of Trump’s passionately supportive base—the United States is not a political entity created and defined by a set of intellectual propositions rooted in the Enlightenment and oriented toward the fulfillment of a universal mission. Rather, it is the nation-state of the American people, and its chief business lies at home. Jacksonians see American exceptionalism not as a function of the universal appeal of American ideas, or even as a function of a unique American vocation to transform the world, but rather as rooted in the country’s singular commitment to the equality and dignity of individual American citizens. The role of the U.S. government, Jacksonians believe, is to fulfill the country’s destiny by looking after the physical security and economic well-being of the American people in their national home—and to do that while interfering as little as possible with the individual freedom that makes the country unique.
When it does engage, Jacksonianism is more likely to do so via the kind of purchase offer of Greenland than it is by, say, invading Iraq, which was championed by the countervailing US Wilsonian political tradition that included most Democrats.
Donald Trump is a flawed Jacksonian without a doubt. But he is not just some free radical plucked from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
The fake left might take a moment to try to understand Donald Trump’s political tradition rather than shouting down anyone who disagrees with its perpetual war for global identity.