Donald Trump

Watch 84 Lumber's Pro-Immigration Commercial that Was Too Hot for Super Bowl

Donald Trump is fearful of the world, and that's a big problem for America.


During tonight's Super Bowl, 84 Lumber, a chain of building-supplies stores, ran a teaser ad about Mexican migrants moving north to the United States for work and opportunity. The first part of the ad is here and the final portion of the ad is up on YouTube and is well worth watching:

Like his full-throated embrace of trade protectionism, Donald Trump's considerable contempt for immigrants and immigration should be recognized for what it is: evidence that he fears America's best days are behind us. He may bitch and moan about so-called globalists who put everyone else's interests ahead of America's own, but only folks fighting over a static or shrinking pie think that way. As conservatives shed their reservations about Trump's lack of principles and embrace his nativist agenda as their own (see, for instance, National Review's cover story on "nationalism"), expect zero-sum thinking to proliferate on the right. Michael Moore and other lefty progs are already struggling with the fact that they agree with Trump on trade; they share a common mind that one person's gain is another's loss. Left and right have effectively given up on growth and innovation; they are arguing instead over strategies to manage decline.

Bluster aside, Trump's obsession with shutting out newcomers (including Iraqis who aided the misbegotten American adventure in that country) and renegotiating NAFTA (which actually created a level playing field among Mexico, Canada, and the United States) springs fully formed out of Christopher Lasch's The Minimal Self: Psychic Survival in Troubled Times. That is, Trump's brittle and perpetually aggrieved sense of identity isn't a sign of strength but a sign that he feels everything in the world is escaping his ability to control it. Lasch, who also wrote The Culture of Narcissism, believed that lack of economic growth in the 1970s and constant Cold War fears of annihilation had created society-wide withdrawal on both psychological and cultural levels. Americans were retreating inward, the better to pretend we could still control at least some aspects of our lives. There are many reasons to be critical of Lasch's methods and conclusions, but I think he helps explain aspects of Trump's agenda and appeal.

One of the main goals of libertarianism over the coming months will be to revive an Enlightenment belief in universalism and cosmopolitanism, and of the belief that one can (and should) be a citizen of the world and a citizen of a particular nation, culture, tradition. Trump addresses the world from a defensive crouch, one that is obsessed with fucking over the other guys before they screw you over. It's a cramped and backward-looking way to be, and it will not make America great again, though it may well take us to dark corners of our past, when we banned large swaths of the planet from our shores in the name of preserving a mythic purity.