The passage of “Trumpcare” by the House of Representatives sucked up most of the attention this past week, but there were other things going on that will likely have a deeper and more lasting impact.
That is not to belittle what just happened with the AHCA vote, but as anyone who has seen Schoolhouse Rock understands, this bill has a way to go before it’s law. As E.J. Dionne said in The Washington Post, “the Anti-Health-Care Bill passed on Thursday bids to be the most remarkable redistribution of income in congressional history, from the poor and middle class to the very wealthy.” He added that this heartless vote will define the House Republicans and the Cook Political Report said the vote moved ratings on 20 House seats more favorably toward the Democrats.
So, yes, the healthcare vote could have a lasting impact on Republicans, but the more troubling impact for all of us came on the international front where we continued to turn our backs on 100 years of global leadership.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a speech to State Department employees saying that too much reliance on human rights principles really creates obstacles to our ability to advance our national security interests, and our economic interests.
Tillerson’s move away from promoting human rights simply follows one of Trump’s few consistent policy directions. During the campaign Trump said the U.S. didn’t have the right to lecture other countries on human rights because things are so bad here now. In the past week, Mother Jones reported Trump renamed the White House office of “multilateral affairs and human rights” as the office of “international organizations and alliances.”
The last week also saw Trump say he would be “honored” to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who he has regularly praised, and invite Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House. One of the only other ways Trump is consistent (in addition to golfing at one of his resorts every weekend) is his praise for dictators and despots around the world.
All of this comes weeks after the 100th anniversary of a moment that defined the direction of America for a century. After years of keeping the United States out of the war that would become World War I, neutrality was no longer viable and on April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson went before a joint session of Congress to seek a declaration of war. A part of his address would set us on a path that only now we seem to be leaving:
The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them.
The United States needs to reaffirm its aspiration to these Wilsonian principles. Today we are following the misguided isolationist path of America First and raising up opponents of democracy from Putin to Erdogan (leaders of countries where Trump has financial interests).
At this point 100 years ago America was mobilizing for the Great War. Those doughboys
were the ones who helped make America great in the eyes of the world, and we largely stayed that way for the past century. Despite his slogan, Trump is threatening to tear down what makes America great.
As you mobilize for this fight, have a cocktail that grew out of WWI, the Sidecar. This classic recipe is:
1.5 oz cognac
1 oz Cointreau
.5 oz lemon juice
Orange twist garnish
Shake over ice and strain into a chilled, sugar-rimmed cocktails glass (sugar not pictured), add garnish