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American Thinker
American Thinker
24 Feb 2024
David Rand

NextImg:The Return of the Old Right

American foreign policy has long labored under the consensus that it is the nation’s duty to police the world. This philosophy has resulted in an overly powerful state and almost constant war overseas. But recently, political discourse has seen a resurgence of traditional American values. It could be that the Old Right philosophy of peace and non-intervention is returning just in time to rescue our republic.

Recent developments remind me of the plot from Marvel’s Captain America: Winter Soldier. The film begins with Captain America reeling from 70 years frozen in ice. He must now confront a U.S. obsessed with control as the world’s only superpower. The government, influenced by sleeper cell Nazis called Hydra, creates a predictive algorithm to eliminate potential threats before they can oppose the new world order of Hydra with its flying super-drone weapons. The government’s violation of liberty and conscience spurs Cap to fight back, uncovering and destroying Hydra.

The film’s premise offers a perfect metaphor for the current domestic debate over American foreign policy. Uniquely American ideas that have been frozen in time are now reawakening to confront a modern foreign policy consensus that has led to financial ruin, domestic tyranny, and endless wars. This awakening isn’t about a superhero in a costume fighting cartoon Nazis hidden in our government, but rather a revival of values and ideas that challenge the status quo of being the world’s police

Like Captain America, the Old Right is precisely what a dying Republic needs to save liberty for future generations. 

Recent events, like Tucker Carlson’s interview with Putin, are a signal of the Old Right’s return, challenging long-held perceptions of American foreign policy and media elite. This interview, drawing over 205 million views, symbolizes a shift in public understanding, questioning the narrative of unequivocally ‘good’ American governance and ‘bad’ foreign entities portrayed by the media. It asks if our government is a big part of the global problem?

The fight surrounding the Biden Administration’s request for more “foreign aid” and a touch of border spending is also demonstrative. We can all recall a time when there was little domestic dissent for more military spending; now, there’s a growing insistence on negotiating the trade-offs between the foreign policy goals of the D.C. elite and American interests, as shown in the debates surrounding the deal that was filibustered in the Senate and now DOA in the House. Importantly, Republican lawmakers are pointing out that our border is broken, millions of people are coming across, and we are bankrupting ourselves to defend someone else’s border. This America First reasoning harkens back to the nation’s founding principles of independence and non-intervention.

Like Captain America, the Old Right is now re-emerging from a long slumber with a new brand, more self-aware, more skeptical perhaps, but also realistic and life-affirming. It’s what Vivek Ramasamy termed “Nationalist Libertarianism” or the “America First movement,” described by Trump-world. This change, arguably the most critical in the American political landscape in a century, should not be understood as an aberration of the American consciousness (as the Neocons and Neoliberals frame it) but rather a return to an American tradition.

But what is this tradition -- who was the Old Right? Murray Rothbard described them in his autobiographical history of the 20th Century; they were a group of writers, activists, and politicians: people like HL Mencken and Senator Robert Taft who were old-school American Liberals, what we’d call libertarians. They opposed FDR’s New Deal and America’s postwar foreign policy consensus both as progressive schemes to remake the world in Man’s image rather than remaining humble to the realities we can’t change and loyal to the traditions that made America a shining city on a hill.

At the end of Avenger’s Endgame, Captain America goes back in time and lives the civilian life he always wanted. As a nation (and not a fictional superhero with access to time travel) we cannot take back 70 years of foreign-policy blunders that put so many into the grave and bankrupted our country. What we can do is change course, and we must. 

The public should embrace the rising America First movement, and we should understand it not as a pathology or novel theory, but as a return to American values. We can embrace a foreign policy rooted in the American tradition, as American as superheroes and apple pie. We can return to an ethic that says we will fight should it come to us, but we refuse to dominate the globe in the name of safety and at the expense of our American soul. 

David Rand is a Young Voices Contributor, Philosopher, Podcast Host at Human [Re]Action, Media, and Political Consultant. Find him at