Lewis: Isolationism will fail us | VailDaily.com

Lewis: Isolationism will fail us

The fictional TV series “Yellowstone” is one of my favorites. The series centers around a family, the Duttons, a deep-rooted Montana family, defending their Yellowstone ranch from all types of threats, be it developers wanting the land or just the weather threatening the herd. It’s a drama about maintaining a way of life.

This is a relatable thing for many of us. We are generally comfortable with things as they are, and change is often viewed with fear and trepidation. Growing up, I spent time at my uncle’s cattle ranch near Kremmling and can see the appeal of this simple lifestyle. I have fond memories of riding up into the hills and bringing down the herd every fall.

In the series, one of the lessons is that, to defend the ranch, the Duttons must get involved in politics, with John Dutton, the patriarch, eventually becoming the governor of Montana. This move is a means to an end to help save the ranch.

Our nation and the world face significant challenges. From global concerns like climate change, war and human rights, to local concerns about how to best educate our kids and use our local resources. When challenges arise, some believe that the best policy is to simply isolate from others. I believe this is a dreadful mistake.

Rep. Lauren Boebert recently tweeted that U.S. taxes should only be spent in the U.S. (humorously, she showed a picture of just the continental U.S. excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and other U.S. territories). Despite the gaffe, her meaning was clear — screw the rest of the world; let Russia and China run wild and take what they want. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene proposed we go a step further and have a “national divorce” where red and blue states go their separate ways. Again, I found this humorous as Greene, a MAGA Republican, lives in a “blue” state.

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Investing time and money building global trade and relationships around the world might be perceived as a waste of money but it is short-sighted to think that we would be better off going it alone. Ironically, those that propose these isolationist policies usually wind up hurting themselves more than others. Greene’s “national divorce,” if implemented, would lower taxes in blues states while potentially bankrupting the red group.

Brexit is a great example of short-sighted isolationist policy. Only 32% of Brits now believe that Brexit was the right call. Why? Because it is now clear that Brexit cost the British in big ways. Lost trade, investment and growth have been calculated to be almost $40 billion with Britain’s economy now 5.5 percent smaller than it would have been if it had stayed in the European Union. Brexit has pushed up food prices and diminished wages. Brexit supporters’ claims of success are that they have “taken back control” over borders, lawmaking and even the reintroduction of their “iconic blue passports.” Your economy is a dumpster fire, but you have blue passports — congratulations — job well done.

While an over dependence on countries like China is not prudent, we should also recognize that our influence around the globe is directly related to our engagement. Just as companies are more responsive to their largest customers, countries are more likely to politically side where they have the strongest economic ties.

China now ranks ahead of the U.S. as the largest investor in Africa. Recently North African nations have been buying up Russian oil that was banned in the EU. While US diplomats have complained, the U.S. no-longer has the influence to do anything about it.

Even John Dutton eventually realized he couldn’t just go it alone. Just like in the “Yellowstone” series, trying to solve problems by isolating from those who may not share your values only serves to increase the potential for conflict. Isolationism provides a false sense of control when, actually, it carries with it greater economic hardship and the increased likelihood of returning to cold war politics. If we want to prosper, advocate for our values, and avoid military conflicts then we must remain a strong member of the global community.

Mark Lewis, a Colorado native, had a long career in technology, including serving as the CEO of several tech companies. He retired from technology and is now writing thriller novels. Mark and his wife, Lisa, and their two Australian Shepherds — Kismet and Cowboy, reside in Edwards.

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