In this case, Trump isn’t the problem. The problem is American foreign policy, which has been a virtually unmitigated disaster for the entire 21st century (and really, can we talk about Yemen at some point?). It needs a reboot, partly because our Ozymandias-like endeavors (nation-building! region-building!) were so misguided and partly because the world has changed. America can’t be everywhere and shouldn’t try. That recognition stings, burns, humbles perhaps even the least-interventionist folks among us. In so many places and despite our intentions, Washington has made the world a worse place, a less stable place. Power, especially military power, isn’t what it used to be.
If the markets are tanking and a recession is looming, well, of course. What have we done since the Great Recession other than recreate the exact conditions that led to it? We’ve increased government spending and debt in a way that predictably leads to low growth, a stifling of innovation, and, eventually, a bad labor market (federal spending has been above 20 percent of GDP, a historically high level, since 2008 and shows no signs of reducing). Again, Trump isn’t the cause per se of this; he’s just the latest in an apostolic succession of presidents who helped to light the path. His trade wars aren’t helping, for sure, but that’s not the biggest problem facing us right now when it comes to long-term economic growth. Congress, which abdicated its responsibility for foreign policy a few years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, is now doing the same thing with many of its other functions (when’s the last time a real budget was enacted?). Parties end, bills come due. Not a good time. The same thing is happening in other parts of the world, especially Europe.