It’s All Just History Repeating Itself

It’s All Just History Repeating Itself
Posted on: July 27th, 2023

I’m always asking the question, “Is history repeating itself?” In politics, being popular and receiving media attention can be necessary for winning a reelection. Some politicians may prioritize this over presenting sound policy ideas.

This approach has been embraced by some Republicans, influenced by former President Trump, who have focused on generating media attention by repeating extreme or populist ideas. As a result, more moderate fiscal conservatives have been marginalized within the party.

However, this approach may not be the most effective way to govern responsibly and address complex policy issues. For the first time in over 30 years, those identifying as Republican have outpaced those identifying as Democrat. So what’s happening here?

This isn’t new

One hundred years ago, we were in the same proverbial boat. Conservatives were gaining traction in congress and passing repressive laws that were often a reaction to the perceived excesses of the previous decade. Sound familiar? Is this history repeating itself?

A few examples:

  • Prohibition: In 1920, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution went into effect, making the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol illegal. This “Prohibition” era lasted until 1933 and was enforced by a network of federal agents and local law enforcement agencies. However, Prohibition led to increased organized crime and bootlegging and was widely viewed as a failure.
  • Immigration restrictions: In 1924, the U.S. Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1924, severely restricting immigration from non-Western European countries, including a complete ban on immigration from Asia. This law was motivated by fears of the “racial purity” of the American population and concerns about competition for jobs.
  • Anti-sedition laws: In 1918, the U.S. Congress passed the Sedition Act, which made it illegal to criticize the government, the flag, or the military during wartime. Although the law was repealed in 1921, similar laws that limited freedom of speech and the press were passed in subsequent years.
  • Anti-communist hysteria: In the wake of the Russian Revolution in 1917, there was widespread fear in the U.S. of the spread of communism. This fear was stoked by government agencies and private groups, leading to a “Red Scare” in which thousands of people were arrested, deported, or blacklisted for their political beliefs.

These repressive laws and policies reflected a conservative backlash against the social and cultural changes of the previous decade and had a lasting impact on American society and politics.

High tariffs hurt industry

The U.S. government also implemented protectionist trade policies, such as high tariffs on imported goods, to protect American industries. This led to retaliatory tariffs by other countries, which decreased demand for American goods and further reduced production and employment.

All of these things led to the Great Depression, which lasted ten years and wiped out the life savings of many Americans.

Americans wanted nothing to do with war, especially after the devastating effects of WWI. This allowed other regimes to grow substantially. But since it was not in our backyard, we didn’t think it mattered to us.

You know how that turned out unless you were asleep during History class. Power is a vacuum; if we self-isolate, another country will take our place as a world leader. What happens when that new leader is hostile to our way of living?

History tends to repeat itself

U.S. politics always tends to ebb and flow from right to left. This is a good thing as it keeps our country balanced. The problem is when one side gets a little too extreme. This causes rifts on the other side, pushing them to the other extreme. This has happened several times before, and the eventual fallout tends to end badly.

While we are better situated today from letting any recession get out of control, we aren’t as fortunate with the self-isolation stances that lead to other countries filling in the power gaps we may leave behind.

Let’s Pretend: History repeating itself

Let’s pretend that America said, “Screw everyone else; leave us alone.” What might happen?


Russia would make short work of Ukraine and move on to the other Baltic states, causing a war between themselves and the rest of Europe. Europe would form its own military bloc without America, making them more potent than America as we wouldn’t have the capital to keep such a monstrous military afloat as we do now.

Our significant allies, like Australia and Canada, would likely join forces with the European bloc.


China would stand to gain the most from this. They would make quick work of Taiwan and move on to the other former colonial powers around Asia. They are already turning several African countries into their own personal factories to supply their large population. Their rise to power would happen much more quickly than our own did.

Chinese currency would quickly become the global reserve having determinantal effects on the U.S. economy.

If this were to happen, it would be nearly impossible for America to recover from the rise of the much larger China, Russia, and Europe.

Middle East

Without the American presence, the Middle East could potentially see an escalation of conflicts. Saudi Arabia and Iran might engage in a more direct conflict, with the Sunni and Shia tensions further escalating into more widespread regional warfare. Turkey could attempt to exert influence over the region, further intensifying these conflicts.

Also, Israel, one of America's closest allies in the region, would be at a higher risk. The balance of power could shift unfavorably for them, leading to a potential increase in conflict within the region.

South Asia

India, being a major strategic partner of the U.S., would lose an important ally against its disputes with China and Pakistan. This could potentially destabilize the region, leading to an arms race or escalated tensions between these nuclear-armed countries.

International Organizations

U.S. withdrawal would also mean a power vacuum in international organizations like the UN, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, where the U.S. has considerable influence. This might lead to the weakening of these institutions, or worse, they could come under the sway of other major powers like China and Russia, shifting the global order.

Technology and Economy

The U.S., being a global leader in technology and innovation, stepping back would allow other nations to dominate these sectors. China, already a significant player in technology, could potentially take control of setting global standards in crucial, emerging technologies like AI, quantum computing, and bioengineering.

American companies, which thrive on global markets, could lose out significantly. Global trade policies could become less favorable for the U.S., and the American economy could face serious challenges.


On the environmental front, U.S. withdrawal from international climate agreements could lead to an increase in global emissions, contributing further to global warming. With China and India being major polluters, the absence of U.S. pressure could lead to insufficient action on climate change.

Be kind, Rewind.

Should the United States recede from the global stage, a cascade of events could be triggered with profound consequences. Nations such as Russia and China stand to be the primary beneficiaries of such a power vacuum. Their ascension to global leadership is not just a hypothetical outcome but a strategic goal, and they are employing a multitude of tactics to make this happen. Both nations need America to relinquish its active role in international affairs, not just for their growth but for their survival in the new geopolitical order. To believe that they are not exerting influence on our political agenda would be a dangerous oversight.

In this complex global chess game, let's not allow divisive politics or misinformation campaigns to pit us against each other. As American citizens, we are all passengers on the same ship. Indulging in hostility or polarization is equivalent to rocking this ship, risking not just our national unity but our international standing.

History, as the old saying goes, tends to repeat itself. But it's crucial to remember that we are not just observers but active participants in this historical process. Do we need to sit idly by as history's wheel turns, or can we learn from our past and navigate towards a more cooperative, less divided future?

While we must certainly protect our national interests, turning inwards and ignoring our global responsibilities is not the solution. Instead, let's reinforce our common bonds, acknowledge the interconnectedness of today's world, and strive for a balanced approach in global politics.

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