Even though one of the biggest champions of “America First” policies, former President Donald Trump, has left office, the doctrine itself is “here to stay,” according to Richard Grenell, former Acting Director of U.S. National Intelligence.
Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, on Feb. 27, Grenell credited Trump for “successfully realigning U.S. foreign policy with the interests of the American people” and argued that this realignment was so well-received by the public that it is bound to live on through the actions of the current administration.
“The doctrine of America First is here to stay,” Grenell said. “Even in the first month of a new administration, America First electoral popularity and strategic accomplishments ensure that it no longer belongs to a single party or politician,” he added, presumably referring to some of the America First-flavored actions taken by the Biden administration.
Just days after taking office, President Joe Biden signed a “Made in America” executive order seeking to increase purchases of products made in the United States, chiefly by tightening rules around federal procurement and giving the government a bigger role in supporting U.S. businesses. The action makes it harder for federal agencies to buy imported products by raising local-content requirements, cracking down on waivers that allow exemptions to current Buy American Act rules, and tightening implementation of the new efforts.
Trump ran in 2016 on an explicitly “America First” agenda, with a landmark foreign policy speech in April of that year widely interpreted as harkening a pullback from the interventionist policies of his predecessors. After he was elected, the practical elements of Trump’s doctrine became clearer. On an economic front, he pursued policies that sought to prioritize the interests of American workers by trying to force transnational corporations to reshore their supply chains, and by seeking to protect them from unfair foreign competition both from low-wage centers like China and from illegal immigration that drove down wages.
“Once unleashed, this doctrine has shown it won’t easily be tossed aside,” Grenell said. “The American people demanded a part in the democratic process of formulating foreign policy. Once they got it, they won’t ever let it go. Ever.”
Trump’s America First doctrine also sought to limit engagement in what he often referred to as “endless wars,” and renegotiate international trade and defense pacts to get a better deal for the United States.
“Previous administrations have tried to limit the American people’s participation in deciding what kind of foreign policy this country should pursue. They delegated it to unelected technocrats and career bureaucrats with the help of lobbyists and others with financial interests overseas,” Grenell said.
“There is still a group of foreign policy professionals who want to restore this old way of doing things. They tell us we can’t understand the complicated issues,” he said. “They tell us other countries will fail and fall if we don’t send more U.S. troops. They tell us they can solve our problems by creating more government programs.”
“But they lie to us, and they think we don’t see it,” he said.
Grenell argued that a creative, outsider approach allowed for successful renegotiation of trade agreements under Trump that “made our relationship[s] fairer and better” and led to breakthroughs in areas long stuck in a diplomatic standstill, like the Abraham Accord normalization deals between Israel and Arab states that were negotiated with the help of the White House.
“The lesson here is that the outsiders always have something to say, always something to contribute,” Grenell said.
In his speech, Grenell also hinted at a possible run for California governor, saying has “never seen a better case for a recall” than the bid to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“And of course, if a public official is still failing to deliver on their promises, and if you can’t limit their term or recall them in time, there’s always one other option: you can run against them yourself,” Grenell said at the end of his speech.
Epoch Times’ contributor Roger L. Simon, in an op-ed, hailed the prospect that Grenell may be mulling a gubernatorial challenge to Newsom.
“Grenell has had an amazing career, starting at the United Nations, going through his ambassadorship to Germany where he was virtually the only person to face down Angela Merkel and restrain her on Iran and then his important stint as acting Director of National Intelligence,” Simon wrote.
“But could a Republican actually win the governorship in Wokeland in this day and age? Beats me, but if anyone could, it would be Ric,” he wrote.
“People are fleeing for Red States (Please don’t bring your politics with you),” he wrote, adding, “Someone’s got to fix it.”