As I listened to the Republican National Convention last night, every time the GOP motto Country First came up, I got an itchy, nervous feeling. As the evening went on, that itchy feeling grew worse and worse, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on the place that needed scratching.
Then I remembered the definition of totalitarianism I learned when I was a kid: The country first, and individual freedom last. As the American Heritage Dictionary puts it, under totalitarianism, “the individual is subordinated to the state, and opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed”. That describes the Republican approach quite well, doesn’t it?
There’s another aspect to totalitarianism that relates to the Republican motto of Country First: Nationalism. It isn’t just that the Republicans value authority and centralized power. They worship the idea of the nation as well. The Republicans are showing a nationalist ideology in that they regard the worth of their nation as paramount, and the worth of other nations as insignificant. That leads to the kind of foreign policy we’ve had under George W. Bush, in which international law is disregarded and arrogance and militaristic unilateralism replaces diplomacy.
Country First means individual rights come last. Country First means our country’s power is recklessly asserted upon the world stage without considering how other countries will react.
Country First means totalitarian nationalism. That’s what the Republican Party offers American.
I say no thanks. I say human rights first.