Thursday, July 19, 2018
Politics

Where did 'America First' originate?

After being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump delivered his inaugural address. In that address he mentioned putting "America first."

"From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land," Trump said. "From this day forward, it's going to be only America first, America first."

His inauguration speech wasn't the first time Trump has used the phrase. He made it a foreign policy talking point during the campaign and during his victory tour rallies.

But where did the phrase originate?

A century ago, President Woodrow Wilson brought the United States into World War I, ending a long period of forbearance from foreign wars that was rooted in the 1823 Monroe Doctrine.

During the 1930s, some Americans looked askance at political turmoil in Europe and opposed calls by Democratic politicians to combat the rise of fascism. Among the most prominent isolationists was aviator and Nazi admirer Charles Lindbergh, whose movement was also called America First. Lindbergh's cause failed and the U.S. military played a decisive role in World War II and in the postwar reconstruction of Europe and Asia.

Ian Bremmer, an author and political scientist, inadvertently provided the nomenclature for Trump by referring to his policy before the primary season as America First.

He didn't mean it as a compliment.

"I said, 'This is clearly America First.' It's not, Make America Great Again, because it won't make America great again. This is viewing international relations through a purely zero-sum, winners-and-losers kind of frame," Bremmer said in an interview. "It's blaming everyone else in the world for America's challenges."

"I was not suggesting this was a good thing."

When the New York Times asked Trump about it in April, he said he liked the expression and repeated it on the campaign trail.

Times researchers Caryn Baird and John Martin contributed to this report.

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