Hey Trump: Learn something from Mr. Rogers

Hey Trump: Learn something from Mr. Rogers

By Ellen Ratner   
(National Museum of American History)

LOS ANGELES — This past weekend, President Trump attended the G-7 meeting in Canada. He left early to attend the summit with Kim Jong Un, and it was clear that leaders and members of the G-7 were not happy.

The G-7 has a long history. The group originally had Russia as part of it and was called the G-8. However, Russia was kicked out of the group after it annexed the Crimea and then supported the pro-Russians in Ukraine. Russia was disinvited in 2014.

President Trump said this week that Russia should be part of the G-7. “Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run,” Trump said. “And in the G-7, which used be the G-8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.” He may be right about Russia, but why not China?

Before he left for the summit in Canada, Trump said to reporters that he had been Russia’s “worst nightmare” but argued the country should be part of the economic talks. “With that being said, Russia should be in this meeting,” he said. “Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting?”

The G-7 is a group of countries that have the leaders meet once a year. The G-7 is made up of large economies. It was organized in response to the 1973 world oil crisis. Russia formally joined in 1998. In 2017, the world’s four largest economies were: the United States, China, Japan, and Germany. The G-7 is supposed to focus on economic and political challenges while the G-20 focuses on important global issues.

In a statement issued by 6 of the 7 countries at the G-7, they said that together they were a larger economic powerhouse than the United States. Issues that have been tackled in the recent past include transparency and corruption, taxes, food security, and nutrition, as well as jobs and employment. According to press reports, the G-7 countries represent “62% of the global net wealth ($280 trillion).”

It is interesting to note the papers are filled with the new documentary about Mister Rogers and his “Won’t you be my neighbor?” theme. Mister Rogers was an ordained minister, and reports are he chose the neighbor theme based on the teachings of Jesus. In reaching out to the Christian right in the U.S., President Trump is forgetting that being part of the G-7 is also being neighborly. Putting tariffs on steel and aluminum is not the neighborly thing to do.

Some of the press has dubbed it “G-6 plus 1.” The point of the G-7 is to try and fix the world’s problems. That is why it was begun by the United States way back when. The EU (which was also invited to the meeting) might have a big trade surplus with the United States, but it is made up of many neighboring countries. It is not a single trading partner with America. Donald Trump’s style is to go it alone.

In our small world, which has been made smaller with the internet and cell phones, we can’t afford to go it alone. The world had too many challenges, and one of them is climate change. Going it alone is an old concept. It is not neighborly and means America is out of touch with how the world exists in the 21st century.

It was not helped by two of President’s Trump’s communications when he left the meeting. The president told reporters, “They have no choice. I’ll be honest with you, they have no choice. … We’re going to fix that situation. And if it’s not fixed, then we’re not going to deal with these countries.”

Then Trump tweeted: “Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!”

This tweet is not how to get along with our neighbors and is not going to win America any friends, which is what the G-7 is about.

We can’t go it alone. Mr. Rogers taught us that when we were growing up.

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