Opinion: Globalists & nationalists — Who owns the future?

Robert Bartley, the late editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal, was a free trade zealot who for decades championed a five-word amendment to the Constitution: “There shall be open borders.”

Bartley accepted what the erasure of America’s borders and an endless influx or foreign peoples and goods would mean for his country.

His vision and ideology had a long pedigree.

This free trade, open borders cult first flowered in 18th-century Britain. The St. Paul of this post-Christian faith was Richard Cobden, who mesmerized elites with the grandeur of his vision and the power of his rhetoric.

“I look farther; I see in the Free Trade principle that which shall act on the moral world as the principle of gravitation in the universe — drawing men together, thrusting aside the antagonisms of race, and creed, and language, and uniting us in the bonds of eternal peace,” Cobden said in 1846.

Britain converted to this utopian faith and threw open her markets to the world. Across the Atlantic, however, another system, that would be known as the “American System,” had been embraced.

The second bill signed by President Washington was the Tariff Act of 1789. Said the Founding Father of his country in his first address to Congress: “A free people … should promote such manufactures as tend to make them independent on others for essential, particularly military supplies.”

This was wisdom born of experience.

At Yorktown, Americans had to rely on French muskets and ships to win their independence. They were determined to erect a system that would end our reliance on Europe for the necessities of our national life, and establish new bonds of mutual dependency — among Americans.

Britain’s folly became manifest in World War I, as a self-reliant America stayed out, while selling to an import-dependent England the food, supplies and arms she needed to survive but could not produce.

America’s own first major steps toward free trade, open borders and globalism came with JFK’s Trade Expansion Act and LBJ’s Immigration Act of 1965.

By the end of the Cold War, U.S. trade deficits in goods were surging into the hundreds of billions.

Americans were coming to realize that free trade was gutting the nation’s manufacturing base and open borders meant losing the country in which they grew up.

The new resistance of Western man to the globalist agenda is now everywhere manifest.

We see it in Trump’s hostility to NAFTA, his tariffs, his border wall.

And Europeans have begun to see themselves as indigenous peoples whose Old Continent is mortally imperiled by the hundreds of millions of invaders wading across the Med and desperate come and occupy their homelands.

The problem of the internationalists is that the vision they have on offer — a world of free trade, open borders and global government — are constructs of the mind that do not engage the heart.

On Aug. 4, 1914, the anti-militarist German Social Democrats, the oldest and greatest socialist party in Europe, voted the credits needed for the Kaiser to wage war on France and Russia. With the German army on the march, the German socialists were Germans first.

Patriotism trumps ideology.

And our transnational elites have a seemingly insoluble problem.

To rising millions in the West, the open borders and free trade globalism they cherish and champion is not a glorious future, but an existential threat to the sovereignty, independence and identity of the countries they love. And they will not go gentle into that good night.

Writes for Creators Syndicate.