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Bannon’s Bull: He Gives the ‘American System’ a Polk in the Eye

Sept. 12, 2017 (EIRNS)—In a prominent interview with Charlie Rose on CBS News’ "60 Minutes" on Sept. 10, Brietbart chief Stephen Bannon, late of the Trump White House, purported to explain and defend the "American System of economy." Bannon praised President Trump, who reportedly watched and appreciated the interview. Trump, while Bannon was his "strategic advisor," became the first President in more than a century to give public speeches calling for the nation to return to the American System of economy. The President, no doubt by honest error, included President Andrew Jackson among American System leaders Alexander Hamilton, Henry Clay, and Abraham Lincoln. But Bannon, pretending to defend it, lacerated the American System and stood it up as a scarecrow of British imperialism; and his errors appeared deliberate.

"What built America is called the American System, from Hamilton to Polk to Henry Clay to Lincoln to the Roosevelts," Bannon argued to Rose. "A system of protection of our manufacturing, a financial system that lends to manufacturers, and the control of our borders."

Alexander Hamilton, the unchallenged founder of the American System, would have been surprised to find that "control of our borders" was among its precepts, and amazed to hear that national banking and internal improvements ("new infrastructure") were not! But the inclusion of President James Polk should raise the hackles of all American System proponents. Polk defeated American System leader Henry Clay for the Presidency in 1844; wanted Texas in the United States because it was anticipated to be divided into four slave states to "balance" the Northwest territories coming in; happily ceded what is now British Columbia to Great Britain; and above all, waged the Mexican War which American System leaders Lincoln and John Quincy Adams fought against.

By including Polk (and Teddy Roosevelt), Bannon is deliberately including aggressive war in the "American System." This is false, and British.

Then Bannon got to "citizenship" as the core of the American System. America, he argued strongly with Rose, has never been a nation of immigrants, but rather a nation of citizens. "As long as you’re an American citizen, you’re part of this populist, economic nationalist movement." But immigrant Hamilton was not an American citizen when he laid the foundations of the real American System. The Constitution merely referred to citizens of the states and of the United States, but defined neither. United States citizenship was not defined until the 14th Amendment after the Civil War.

Combined with Bannon’s claim that firing James Comey was a grave mistake by Trump; and his advocacy of a civilizational conflict against China, the interview made clear why Trump’s letting Bannon go was not a grave mistake.