President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama presented wildly different views on globalism during their initial addresses to Congress.
Obama’s first address to Congress in Feb. 2009 focused heavily on the American financial crisis of the time, so much of his speech is hard to directly compare to Trump’s. However, like Trump he did touch on the theme of globalism and trade.
“And to respond to an economic crisis that is global in scope, we are working with the nations of the G-20 to restore confidence in our financial system, avoid the possibility of escalating protectionism, and spur demand for American goods in markets across the globe,” Obama said. “For the world depends on us to have a strong economy, just as our economy depends on the strength of the world’s.”
On the other hand, President Trump gave a strong endorsement of protectionism during his speech Tuesday night. “We’ve lost more than one-fourth of our manufacturing jobs since NAFTA was approved, and we’ve lost 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001,” the president said.
He later added: “The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, warned that the ‘abandonment of the protective policy by the American Government [will] produce want and ruin among our people.’ Lincoln was right — and it is time we heeded his words. I am not going to let America and its great companies and workers, be taken advantage of anymore.”
Obama also spoke highly of the idea that America should shape the world’s policies. “Those of us gathered here tonight have been called to govern in extraordinary times. It is a tremendous burden, but also a great privilege – one that has been entrusted to few generations of Americans. For in our hands lies the ability to shape our world for good or for ill,” the 43rd president said
Trump, however, said: “Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people –- and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path. My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America. But we know that America is better off, when there is less conflict — not more.”