Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Noted Restrainer, Cardi B

State of the Union: The old, realist American equidistance instinct is still somewhat alive in corners where one might not usually look. 

Credit: lev radin

“In New York, there is a $120m budget cut that’s going to affect schools, public libraries and the police department. And a $5m budget cut in sanitation… We are gonna be drowning in…rats,” the musician, singer, and noted realist Cardi B recently said in a statement. 

“I’m endorsing no presidents no more,” Cardi B continued, “Joe Biden is talking about, ‘Yeah, we can fund two wars,’ …talking about, ‘Yeah, we got it, we’re the greatest nation.’ No…we’re not. We don’t got it, and we’re going through some sh*t right now. So say it! We are really, really, really f***ed right now. No, we cannot fund these…wars.”


Of somewhat dubious syntax, and arguably lacking the calm persuasion of “why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice,” the sentiment is nevertheless one of timeless American realism: That there are enough problems of our own. That American tax dollars should prioritize American taxpayers. That there is no need to fund random foreign wars in strategic backwaters. And that anyone waving foreign flag on this soil is welcome to leave, and join their pet wars wherever they desire. Men from George Washington to Teddy Roosevelt would be proud, even if they might not quite grasp the random double negatives.

Up until today, I had no idea who Cardi B is or what she does. It was interesting to find a similarity on foreign policy between her, a far more famous (and otherwise different) person than I, and me. While one might not often feel overtly grateful amidst generic gloom, there is a lot to be thankful for, including the fact that, despite the divisions, sometimes there are major alignments. There’s something in the soil, perhaps, or the foundational philosophy of this nation.

The old, realist American equidistance instinct is still somewhat alive, albeit in unusual corners. One only has to look for them, and reach out in affinity.