On May 19, 2020, President Donald Trump abruptly reversed his choice to nominate Chuck Canterbury as the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives.
In 2019, the former president of the Fraternal Order of Police was nominated by Trump, but the appointment has not progressed due to conservative concerns over his Second Amendment views. The Senate Judiciary Committee halted his nomination in 2019 after those complaints began to surface. Trump nominated Canterbury again in February.
According to an administration official, Canterbury would have not been able to make it out of the Judiciary Committee, thus prompting the withdrawal.
Canterbury’s withdrawal is part of an ongoing trend working against ATF nominees during the last few years. Since the ATF’s director position became a Senate-confirmed affair, there has been a growing number of acting directors. Todd Jones was confirmed as ATF director in 2013 after a spirited effort to get him confirmed. So far, he has been the only person to be confirmed to the position.
Currently, Regina Lombardo is the bureau’s acting director.
Dudley Brown, the President of the National Association for Gun Rights, chimed in on the situation:
The National Association for Gun Rights was the first gun rights organization to sound the alarm on Chuck Canterbury’s abysmal record on the Second Amendment, and in the end it was his past support for gun control that tanked his nomination.
It was NAGR members who deserve the credit for defeating Canterbury.
We’re glad the committee listened to our 4.5 million members and supporters by grilling Canterbury for his past support of the “assault weapons” ban. We encourage the White House and Congress to take the next step and dismantle this failed agency once and for all.
Will Josh Hawley be the Next Champion for an America First Foreign Policy?
America First May Have its Next Leader to End Wars Abroad
Does America First have a new non-interventionist champion?
Missouri Senator Josh Hawley has been viewed by many as one of the figures who could potentially lead a Trumpist movement after Trump, should Joe Biden end up being installed as president on January 2021.
Hawley has made a name for himself as a champion of Middle America and questioning the neoliberal orthodoxy on immigration and trade. Lately, Hawley has made a pivot towards questioning the interventionist conventional wisdom on foreign policy.
In early October of this year, the Missouri Senator called for the American government to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Hawley tweeted, “Almost 20 years now in Afghanistan. Long past time to draw this war to an end.”
Hawley’s foreign policy has been a work progress over the past two years. During a 2019 speech Hawley gave at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), he questioned the nation-building policy prescriptions of previous administrations, demonstrating some degree of skepticism towards non-stop interventionism abroad on the part of the Senator.
That said, it remains to be seen if Hawley’s legislative record will fully match his rhetoric.
Hawley is a staunch China hawk, who fears the rise of China and is a strong voice against China’s expansionist efforts. Hawley’s track record shows that his foreign policy views are rough around the edges. Daniel Larison of The American Conservative is not as optimistic about Hawley judging by his votes on the Yemeni Civil War. Larison cited several of Hawley’s votes that may be cause for concern:
“Sen. Hawley voted against the Senate’s resolution of disapproval that opposed the president’s effort to circumvent Congress with a bogus “emergency” to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. More important, he voted with the president and most Senate Republicans against the antiwar Yemen resolution that would have cut off all U.S. support to the Saudi coalition.”
Nevertheless, Hawley’s comments on Afghanistan are a good sign that Hawley is catching on to the fact that Americans are tired of foreign wars. Politicians can change their views and behaviors. Hawley is likely recognizing that the America First movement is exhausted by the endless wars and wants candidates and elected officials who offer withdrawal plans.
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) November 24, 2020
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, a fierce interventionist skeptic, maintained cautious optimism about Hawley. In a tweet, he commented, “All kinds of reasons to be skeptical of the authenticity here, but — purely as a matter of rhetoric — just imagine any national Republican speaking this way about a Dem administration even 10 years ago. The framework of politics is radically shifting.”
All kinds of reasons to be skeptical of the authenticity here, but — purely as a matter of rhetoric — just imagine any national Republican speaking this way about a Dem administration even 10 years ago. The framework of politics is radically shifting:https://t.co/0g3jpVPsDm
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) November 24, 2020
The jury is still out on Hawley. Regardless of flaws in his voting record, America First advocates should continue to push him and other America First leaning Republicans in the right direction. We should never forget that politicians are still receptive to political pressure and the grassroots holds the keys to political change.
Young senators like Hawley are the future of American politics and it makes sense for foreign policy restrainers to lobby them and push them in a direction that favors non-interventionism.
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