Viral Prerequisites and Nationalist Lessons in Time of Plague

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

President Donald Trump has courted endless controversies for promoting nonconventional policies and entertaining contrarian views. From the outset, he oddly seemed to have believed that having navigated the jungles of the Manhattan real estate market—crooked politicians, mercurial unions, neighborhood social activists, the green lobby, leery banks, cutthroat rivals—better prepared him for the job than did a 30-year tenure in the U.S. Senate.

Certainly, candidate and then President Trump’s strident distrust of China was annoying to the American establishment. The Left saw China in rosy terms as the “Other” that just did things like airports, high-speed rail, and solar panels better than did America’s establishment of geriatric white male has-beens. Many on the Right saw China as a cash cow that was going to take over anyway, so why not milk it before the deluge?

In sum, conventional Washington wisdom assumed that appeasing the commercial banditry of an ascendant China, at best might ensure that its new riches led to Westernized political liberalization, and at worst might at least earn them a pat on the head from China as it insidiously assumed its fated role as global hegemon.

Trump once enraged liberal sensibilities by issuing travel bans against countries in the Middle East, Iran, Nigeria, and North Korea as they could not be trusted to audit their own departing citizens. His notion that nations have clearly defined and enforced borders was antithetical to the new norms that open borders and sanctuary cities were part of the global village of the 21st century.

Trump certainly distrusted globalization. He has waged a veritable multifront war against the overreach of transnational organizations, whether that be the European Union or the various agencies of the United Nations. Even relatively uncontroversial steps, such as greenlighting experimental drugs and off-label uses of old medicines for terminal patients drew the ire of federal bureaucrats and medical schools as potentially dangerous or irrelevant in cost-benefit analyses.

Yet since the outbreak of the virus, Trump’s idiosyncratic sixth sense has come in handy. The country is united in its furor at China—even if it is giving no credit to Trump for being years ahead of where it is now.

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