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Trump's America fights back

Trump's America fights back
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The divide between the guiding political philosophy of the traditional GOP and the pragmatic approach of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE is on full display. Over the past few weeks, his disruption of the established world order at the G-7 meeting, the discussion of imposing tariffs on our North American allies, renegotiating NAFTA under threats of restricting trade, and announcing the possibility of yet more tariffs again have shown that the president is going about all this, and more, his way.

Trump is a pragmatist, not an ideologue. He sees a problem and wants to fix it. He does not have a preconceived ideology that must be applied in all cases. He relies on gut intuition honed over a lifetime of dealmaking. He is willing to rapidly add or subtract from potential deal, increase scope, and take advantage of the chaos he creates.

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He is governing as an entrepreneurial business leader and political independent, not as an institutionalist. To those in Washington and elsewhere unaccustomed to high-level private sector entrepreneurialism, Trump’s freewheeling negotiating style can be startling, and seem incoherent. To those of us familiar with the hurly-burly world of high-level entrepreneurial deals, it is characteristic of highly successful business people that regularly outperform hidebound institutions.

Unlike the traditional GOP, Trump recognized that the post-World War II geopolitical order led by the United States, as advanced by the various multilateral international organizations, was resulting in unacceptably uneven outcomes against Americans. Over decades, our partners in these undertakings have prospered at our expense. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersTrump attacks ‘Crazy Bernie’ Sanders over Medicare plans Overnight Defense: Trump says 'rogue killers' could be behind missing journalist | Sends Pompeo to meet Saudi king | Saudis may claim Khashoggi killed by accident | Ex-VA chief talks White House 'chaos' | Most F-35s cleared for flight Overnight Energy: Trump administration doubles down on climate skepticism | Suspended EPA health official hits back | Military bases could host coal, gas exports MORE said much the same thing during the Democratic primary, and had the playing field been level, he would have won the nomination.

After more than 70 years of an unfair playing field, we are burdened with chronic trade deficits and a national debt in excess of $20 trillion. Both items serve as a tax on our people and an anchor dragging down the next generation of Americans. Yet, we subsidize NATO and serve elsewhere as the world’s unpaid policeman. We rebuild the infrastructure of other countries while our own infrastructure has become old and decrepit in far too many places. We export billions to help other nations maintain their sovereignty abroad. Here at home, we have the most porous border in the developed world. These are all manifestations of weak management.

Trump takes the view, rightly in my mind, that American leadership is not in question, but the price of American leadership in the postwar global institutions has become too high. Initially, our partners in these institutions were in a ravaged state of affairs, with beat up battlegrounds, devastated landscapes, many millions dead, and governments at the brink of default. The United States was stronger than ever and generous in victory. With our direct aid and through the network of American-led multilateral organizations, the ravaged countries rebuilt, and for the most part of the ensuing 70 years, peace has been maintained.

Critics like my friend John McCainJohn Sidney McCainLive coverage: McSally clashes with Sinema in Arizona Senate debate Is there difference between good and bad online election targeting? Murkowski not worried about a Palin challenge MORE, for whom I worked assiduously during his 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns, say to the world, “To our allies, bipartisan majorities of Americans remain pro-free trade, pro-globalization and supportive of alliances based on 70 years of shared values. Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn’t.”

Trump understands, in a way his critics do not, that the costs to the United States and its citizens are unsustainable. Given our expanding economy and increasing military might, American leadership is not at risk, but the price and terms of it need to be renegotiated. Trump is using the trade deficit as a key metric of fairness. It is far from perfect, but none of his predecessors even recognized the need for an empirical measuring stick.

Contrary to the critics, rejecting the current agreements is not the same thing as saying America is in retreat. Our economy is growing, our military gaining strength. Our allies, partners, and aligned special interests have enjoyed a good run spanning decades that has been disproportionately at America’s expense. These inappropriate subsidies are now under review. We should expect some complaining from our partners and allies, but we should not be deterred by their criticism. The message should be clear.

American subsidies of international institutions are not entitlements. They are mutual agreements. The more shrill the critics, the defenders of the sclerotic rot that brought us to this point, the more confident the American people should be. As every U.S. bomber pilot in World War II knew, you catch the most flak when you are over the target.

Dan Palmer is a Republican donor and conservative political strategist. He served as executive director of United We Stand, planned the potential transition of Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBeto O'Rourke will not share million he raised with other Dem Senate candidates Election Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight Donald Trump Jr. blasts Beto O’Rourke: ‘Irish guy pretending to be Hispanic’ MORE, and supported the campaigns of Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyDemocrats in swing districts advised to avoid talking about immigration The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Trump travels to hurricane-ravaged Florida, Georgia McCarthy brother-in-law under scrutiny for earning federal contracts based on Native American identity claim MORE and Donald Trump. You can find him on Facebook @RealDanPalmer.