KLAVAN: The Real Difference Between Donald Trump and Joe Biden

It’s about what America is.

Attendees wait to hear President Trump speaks at a campaign rally on October 16, 2020 in Macon, Georgia. President Trump continues to campaign against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with 18 days until election day. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

This is not an “issues” election. As I write this, Hunter Biden’s leaked emails, if authentic, are revealing facts about his business in Ukraine that reveal his father’s flagrant dishonesty, at the very least. The potential implications of this utterly eclipse those of the inconsequential phone call over which Trump was impeached. But not only has the press downplayed the emails: the New York Post exposé that first broke the story has been blatantly censored by both Facebook and Twitter.

All this should matter much more than it does. But I suspect people are not paying attention to tech censorship, or Biden’s corruption, or really any individual bombshell or policy proposal. What we are fighting about right now is who we are. Each of the two presidential tickets represents a vision of American citizenship and national identity which goes far deeper than politics in the day-to-day sense of the word. The difference between Donald Trump and Joe Biden is political in a much more foundational way: it speaks to how we organize our shared life together, and on what grounds.

In Chapter 10 of his famous handbook on governance, The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli says this about contemporary Germany:

The cities of Germany are absolutely free. They own but little country around them, and they yield obedience to the emperor when it suits them, nor do they fear this or any other power they may have near them: they are fortified in such a way that every one thinks the taking of them by assault would be tedious and difficult, seeing they have proper ditches and walls and sufficient artillery, and they always keep in public depots enough for one year’s eating, drinking, and firing.

Things have changed since the 16th century when Machiavelli was writing only to this extent: it is now not cities but nation-states that must maintain their freedom. And it is not war that most threatens that freedom, but the prospect of total absorption into a global collective — into the kind of borderless world government of which the E.U. and the U.N. are only prototypes.

Since Brexit in 2016, we have seen how ferociously the oligarchs of global governance will fight to prevent states from reclaiming their autonomy once it has been surrendered to a supranational government. Increasingly, the result of integration into the new world order is turning out not to be greater peace and understanding, as was hoped, but subjugation to an entitled and destructive ruling class.

Donald Trump represents the same approach for America in the 21st century that Germany represented for Machiavelli: an insistence on national sovereignty, enforced by border walls and defended if need be at the cost of life and treasure. His insistence on “America first” is really an insistence simply on America, as distinct from other nations. His approach to immigration and global trade is of a piece with his unapologetic patriotism, his pride in the American Constitution and our traditions of personal liberty: all of them are ways of saying, this country is ours, and it is we the people — without exception — who direct our own affairs.

What Joe Biden wants, by contrast, is the kind of America that his old boss Barack Obama wanted: an America wracked with guilt over its past sins and fawningly deferent to global bureaucrats. The reason Biden wants us back in the Iran deal, why he wants us to follow Dr. Fauci’s instructions to the letter, why he wants us to confess and atone for the “systemic racism” which infects the basic foundations of our society and history, is because he thinks that’s who we ought to be: not a proud and independent people, but interchangeable members of a faceless and submissive global citizenry.

Biden wants Americans governed, not by our own heritage and traditions as a people, but by the dictates and whims of the bloodless aristocrats whose sensibilities are aligned with the progressive vision for a new world order.

The 2020 election, then, is not about whether America will enact this or that policy — it’s about whether America will really be America, or whether it will continue to let the corrosive acid of unfettered liberalism dissolve it and melt it away. I know what I’d prefer. I hope I’m not alone.

Spencer Klavan is host of the Young Heretics podcast and assistant editor of the Claremont Review of Books and The American Mind. He can be reached on Twitter at @SpencerKlavan.

More from Spencer Klavan: How The Barrett Hearings Force Democrats To Play Their Hand

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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