Wissot: Globalism will prevail while isolationism will fail | VailDaily.com

Wissot: Globalism will prevail while isolationism will fail

They’re the global elites, the Davos darlings, the 1 percenters, the hedge fund harlots, the wizards of finance, the people whose eyes are fixed on Wall Street, not Main Street. They’re the “haves” who the “have-nots” hate.

They ship their factories to China and their money to the Cayman Islands. They’re more citizens of the world than they’re citizens of the United States. Their interests are aligned with globalists in France, not isolationists here. They don’t see the world in terms of black and white — they prefer shades of gray which they hope will undergo photosynthesis and ripen into the color green.

For all their flaws, for all their greed, for all their insensitivity to the needs of the underpaid and overworked, history has moved in their direction. The blatant truth is we are part of a global community when it comes to finance, trade, technology, entertainment, immigration, health, climate change, terrorism and all matters related to war and peace. We are the latest iteration of the human species, fastened to each other for better or worse, like it or not.

Recent events confirm the fact that we can’t ignore what happens beyond our borders. The pandemic that began three years ago is a case in point. To avoid a distractive argument, let’s assume that the deadly virus did originate in a lab in Wuhan, China. If that is true, then the carelessness of Chinese scientists forced the world to take coordinated steps to stop the spread of the disease and develop a vaccine that would curb the rate of infection, hospitalization and deaths.

The dispensing of anti-viral drugs and vaccines across the globe was critical to treating the multiple variants of the virus that came in waves. When a variant of the virus was detected in South Africa, that news mattered to us, not just the South Africans. Unlike Las Vegas, what happens in South Africa doesn’t stay in South Africa when it comes to an easily transmitted disease.

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Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine exposes the weakness of isolationism in confronting serious threats to world stability. Ukraine’s survival is of utmost importance not only to Ukrainians but to Lithuanians, Estonians, Latvians, and their fellow NATO members. If Russia conquers Ukraine, the Baltic nations are next on Putin’s hit list.

Isolationism was an 18th and 19th-century American foreign policy doctrine that lost efficacy once the U.S. became a world military and economic power by helping end World War I and spearheading the march to victory in World War II. Being the foremost superpower, which we have been for the past 75 years, is inconsistent with isolationism. You can’t lead the world and retreat from it at the same time.

Isolationists have a sentimental view of history. They want to replicate the past in the present. The problem is that history can be studied, but it can’t be recycled. Who we were is not who we are. We once were an agrarian nation. We no longer are. Old McDonald’s farm is now owned by Monsanto. The song “How You Gonna Keep ‘Em Down On The Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree?)” was popular when the doughboys returned from France in 1918. It’s no longer a question worth asking.

There are far fewer farms left to keep the boys “down on” and most of them left for greener pastures long ago. We can’t go back to the future. The farms that farmers once farmed, the manufacturing plants that once employed workers, the pensions that companies once doled out to employees, have gone the way of Blockbuster video stores.

Just as the agrarian era was followed by the industrial era before the advent of today’s Information era, we will in the very near future transition to the age of artificial intelligence. Advances in artificial intelligence will automate certain jobs eliminating the need for workers in those fields. It will be a rude awakening when pink slips are given to computer programmers, software engineers, advertising executives, paralegals, financial advisors, and teachers. It’s a shame that hedge fund managers won’t be given their walking papers.

The regressive right in this country champions isolationism while the progressive left favors globalism. The de facto leader of the Republican Party has said that the “future does not belong to globalists; the future belongs to patriots.” Donald Trump went on to explain that “there is no global anthem, no global currency, no certificate of global citizenship. We pledge allegiance to one flag, and that flag is the American flag. From now on it’s going to be America first.”

Trump’s viewpoint isn’t compatible with the global complexities of the 21st century. It has a “Stop the World I Want To Get Off” mentality to it; a karaoke night appeal for adults who love singing “When You Wish Upon A Star.” “Make America Great Again” was Trump’s counter to Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan, “Hope and Change.” Obama’s message looked ahead to the future while Trump’s harkened back to the past.

I have a vivid memory after Obama was declared the winner in 2008 of a split-screen image of his victory speech in Chicago’s Grant Park and John McCain’s concession speech at the plush Biltmore resort in Phoenix. McCain, who was very gracious in defeat, was surrounded by a group of snowflake white supporters while the cheering throngs in Grant Park resembled the models in a United Colors of Benetton commercial. Thinking about it now in light of Trump and Obama’s presidencies, the uniform racial composition of the Biltmore crowd was what America looked like in 1950 and the Grant Park faithful’s rainbow skin shades what America will look like in 2050.

Jay Wissot is a resident of Denver and Vail. Email him at jayhwissot@mac.com

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