Exclusive — Charlie Kirk on ‘MAGA Doctrine’: Trump ‘Focused on Exceptionalism of Our Country’

NATIONAL HARBOR, MARYLAND - FEBRUARY 29: President Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center February 29, 2020 in National Harbor, Maryland. Conservatives gather at the annual event to discuss their agenda. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Charlie Kirk, founder and president of Turning Point USA and the author of a new book aimed at explaining the ideology behind the rise of President Donald Trump, told Breitbart News in a lengthy exclusive interview that the book aims to explain the “intellectual foundation” of the president’s movement.

Kirk authored the number one best-selling The MAGA Doctrine: The Only Ideas That Will Win the Future. President Trump, upon the book’s release Tuesday, publicly praised it and Kirk—tweeting that his supporters should get a copy of it.

When asked by Breitbart News for some things about Trump that the public may not know or may find most surprising, Kirk—who has gotten to know Trump well during his time in office—said the president has a number of interesting qualities that separate him from the rest.

“He loves differing opinions. He loves hearing from people who disagree with him,” Kirk said. “He’s relentless. He’s not afraid to embrace voices that aren’t necessarily part of the credentialed intellectual community that has been wrong about everything the last 30 years. He’s a great listener. He’s a deeply dedicated patriot. Every instance, every decision, he looks at through the lens of, ‘Does this benefit the nation-state and the country I’ve been sworn to protect and serve?’ That’s such an important thing. He looks at every individual decision under that guiding principle. No other president since Ronald Reagan has operated that way. No other president. Also, he’s someone that looks at far beyond right now or two years out—he looks at the long game of what’s going to benefit our country. Boy, do we have the results to show for it.”

Kirk, in this nearly 30-minute-long, wide-ranging exclusive interview, explains the ideological foundations of Trump’s “MAGA doctrine,” as he calls it in the book title, and how the president’s movement is not just a rejection of failed doctrines of the past from both political parties but the building of a foundation of a new ideology altogether.

“The reason I wrote the book, put simply, is I was growing tired of people putting the cheap insult towards President Trump and his supporters that there was no intellectual foundation behind President Trump and his movement,” Kirk said. “So I sought out to try to analyze both historically and presently what exactly drives this movement and are these ideas worth following and understanding. The answer is absolutely. So I call it the ‘MAGA doctrine’ which first and foremost is focused on American renewal and revitalization. I make this argument in the book that this is a path that is so unprecedented; it’s only been done a couple times in world history that a leader has been able to take office on a message of renewal and then actually deliver on it, when a nation seems to be in a kind of a period of managed decline. In the Bush and Obama years, it seemed like our country was in a period of descent and decay and managed mediocrity. So first and foremost I kind of go through a couple thousand year analysis of who and when in world history individuals have been able to turn around a civilization’s decline, and how that was done, so I look at everyone from King Justinian to Queen Elizabeth to Abraham Lincoln. I think President Trump stands out in a couple of ways. His improbability and sense of leadership is quite remarkable. The fact that he beat the whole Republican field, the media establishment, the Bush establishment, the Clinton establishment, the voter fraud industry, and social media tech oligarchs is quite remarkable.”

During the past several decades, Kirk said, leaders of both political parties—from Democrats such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama to Republicans such as George W. Bush and his father George H.W. Bush—have led the country down the wrong path. Trump, he argues, has course-corrected the nation, steering the country out of a perennial downward spiral and lifting it back up towards prosperity.

“The MAGA doctrine is focused on the exceptionalism of our country and an admittance it was going the wrong direction for the last 30 to 40 years,” Kirk said. “Then it rationally looks at every policy position that has been made by both parties and asks: Is this helping our country? So, some of these are against traditional Republican orthodoxy which I actually appreciate and applaud, like should we have an unlimited flow of illegal and legal immigrants coming into our country? No. Should we continue to have these endless occupational wars in countries that don’t serve our nation’s best interests? No. Should we continually raise taxes and erode our free market system? No. All of these things are kind of incorporated into this doctrine that I think will be one of the most fundamental, philosophical kind of compositions in our country’s history that, thank goodness, has brought our country from the brink of decline back to an American Renaissance.”

Part of how Trump is succeeding in doing this, Kirk said, is he is exposing the political class—“the ruling class” or “cartels in both parties,” as Kirk puts it—for their failures while he achieves his various successes. Kirk said there was no better speech from President Trump during his presidency than his most recent State of the Union address in early February, where the president did exactly this—exposed the bad of the past from his predecessors, and laid out the positive of the future from his administration.

“He’s in real time embarrassing the ruling class, the cartels in both parties, that have managed the decline of our country over the past several years,” Kirk said. “Make no mistake, this is both parties that have contributed to this. The case that I make in the book is that President Trump has done more positively for our country in three years than the ruling class has done in the last 40 or 50 years. That State of the Union speech was so brilliant in that it walked through, in a positive and optimistic way, just what he has accomplished. You look around and ask yourself, what has Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff and the entire ruling class accomplished for our country? People say President Trump is dividing our country. That’s nonsense. The real division in America is not right versus left. It’s ruling class versus the citizens. It’s the kingdom of Washington, DC, versus the rest of the country, that is producing value and is not part of this incestuous culture in the swamp, which he ran against. So, we now actually have evidence of an American renewal which is something that prognosticators and the talking heads thought was impossible—but the media elites have been wrong about everything that’s happened over the last three years. Look, from every single kind of prism of success—economic, foreign policy, and just general sentiment—President Trump’s presidency has been a huge success. So what I go about in this book is I say why? Is he a magician? Partly—I’m half kidding. But he does have something very special to him in that he’s relentless and he’s optimistic and has the most unbelievable perseverance I’ve ever seen in any leader. Also, the ideas he’s been implementing have been cast aside by the ruling class for too long. That’s the argument I make in the book.”

Kirk said that the reason why Democrats and the media class tried to eliminate Trump through their failed partisan impeachment was because they had no other way to defeat him and stop his progress in course-correcting the nation and undoing their failures over the past several decades.

“You have to look at impeachment as a political move to try to stop his re-election. Just ask yourself: What are Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden and all these people saying in their private meetings?” Kirk said. “In their private meetings, they are saying they’re worried President Trump is going to win re-election. That’s a sort of exercise we should do. What are they saying privately? They know he’s going to out-campaign, out-raise, out-work, and get more enthusiasm than whoever the Democrats put forward as their nominee. So they’re saying ‘what can we do to try to slow him down? What can we do to try to mar his presidency?’ They unsuccessfully tried to do the highest, nuclear war, scorched earth threshold that the Constitution allows which is impeachment. Okay, that didn’t work—five months of this nonsense, and distracting the American people away from the regular order of business in Congress I think has backfired in a spectacular fashion.”

Despite their five-month-long partisan impeachment that ended in failure—as it was always destined to do—Trump, Kirk says, kept delivering on his core agenda. From the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement to judges to continued moves toward energy independence and strengthening of the economy and more, Kirk says Trump blew past the failed impeachment with success after success demonstrating why he was elected in the first place.

“That’s why I think they did this, but President Trump continues to brilliantly renegotiate trade deals, end the endless wars, kill terrorists, and also an economic renaissance and success the elites never would have thought possible,” Kirk said. “We are finally energy independent, a geopolitical victory the likes of which we never could have imagined. We have Gorsuch and Kavanaugh and the rule of law, something which has been completely eroded by the ruling class. When you think about it, the elites don’t want impartial judges. They want judges who work for them, judges who will only enforce the laws they like, judges who will only enforce the laws that serve their interests—not judges like Gorsuch and Kavanaugh and 50 circuit court judges. One of the most positive things the president has put forward is a remaking of the Republican Party. It’s a party that actually represents the working class again, people who shower before work and after work not just the people who are part of the Acela corridor ruling class if you will—it’s not just for the people who live on the upper east corridor but the people who live in the middle part of this country. Trump stole the working class away from the Democrats—they are now part of the GOP—and I think the Republican Party’s success will be continuing to follow this model of success moving forward forevermore.”

Trump has also significantly reformed the GOP in his time in office. More than 43 percent of Republicans who were in the House when he took office are gone or leaving, replaced with Trump-like Republicans. Several GOP establishment senators are gone too, mostly replaced with better Trump-like members—with one exception, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), the former governor of Massachusetts and failed 2012 GOP presidential nominee who carpet-bagged his way into Utah to win the Senate race there in 2018 rather than running where he had already been elected in Massachusetts. Kirk says he was “ashamed” to have ever supported Romney in the past, even though many conservatives and Republicans had in the 2012 election when he was the GOP nominee, and that Romney should be forcefully “excommunicated” from the Republican Party.

“I’m ashamed I ever voted for him or supported him or I ever tried to get him elected,” Kirk said of Romney. “He’s far more self-interested than he is in the betterment of our country. He doesn’t represent Utah at all in any way shape or form. For him to vote to convict the President of the United States—for removal—is just such a step out of rational observance of reality it’s incredible to me. What does he believe? He comes from the very ruling class I’m going after. His father, George Romney, was part of the Rockefeller Republicans. Look, Mitt Romney—for the longest time in his life—was a pro-abortion, power-hungry liberal, everywhere he’s gone. Every place he has traveled to, he has been power-hungry from Massachusetts to Utah to the United States presidency. If he had won in 2012, we’d be in some other endless war and conflict. We’d be in economic malaise. We would not have Justices like Gorsuch and Kavanaugh—they’d be more flakey at best, more similar maybe to John Roberts and George W. Bush. Look, I think the American people see right through what Mitt Romney is doing right now and I’ve never seen a more venomous anger than what’s directed at Mitt Romney. I say this with no reservations whatsoever, he should be excommunicated from our party completely, totally, and categorically. Anyone who associates with him, anyone who even gets within his orbit, should be questioned on what are their real and driving motivations. You can have your policy disagreements with President Trump. Sen. Mike Lee has his policy disagreements with President Trump. But to vote to convict and remove him on such a sham partisan concocted impeachment is one of the most disgraceful things I can ever imagine and it really puts into question where is the patriotic allegiance of individuals that do that because this president has brought our country back from the brink of decline and this is something we as Republicans need to celebrate.”

Even with all of Trump’s successes in reforming the GOP, Kirk says that Republicans need to keep culling from their ranks anyone more loyal to lobbyists than voters and keep refreshing and re-energizing the GOP moving forward if Republicans want to be successful.

“It needs to continually be a grassroots party,” Kirk said. “We need to ask ourselves if we are representing the needs and wants of the American people or are we representing the lobbying class entangling us in endless foreign wars and open borders and pandering to the abortion lobby and the pharmaceutical lobby or are we actually serving the needs and wants of the country. I think we need more people like Rand Paul and more people like Ted Cruz and we need to get rid of the people who want ‘bipartisan agreement’ while the country is going into decline. Instead, we need fighters. We need insurgents to go to Washington, DC, and stand by President Trump and his agenda. The issues we’ve talked about are tech tyranny, immigration, the attack on Christianity in our country, endless wars, abortion—these things are so important and really I think that the more the Republican Party takes a page out of President Trump’s book and becomes a populist conservative freedom-centric party and not one that is focused on serving the administrative state and the deep state the healthier our country will be because of it.”

When it comes to foreign policy, Kirk said that Trump has changed the game and is a “master tactician.” He points to the strike that took out Iranian Quds Force Gen. Qasem Soleimani and the raid that eliminated ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as well as Trump’s missile strikes against Syria and his overall broader vision when it comes to the Middle East aimed at getting Americans out of the “region of sand and death.” Most importantly, Kirk said, Trump has found a new middle ground ideology and foreign policy that is practical and does not force American voters to pick between the false choice of endless war or appeasement of America’s adversaries.

“He’s not a dove. He’s not someone who’s trying to appease the Mullahs in Iran like Barack Obama who sent a billion dollars in the middle of the night in cash to the evil Iranians and lifted sanctions and allowed to get closer to a nuclear weapon,” Kirk said. “And he’s not a neoconservative nation-builder who’s trying to get into a war with every single country in the Middle East that further entangles us in the region of sand and death. That’s kind of the bigotry of binary choices if you will that the cartel in Washington, DC, has left us for the last 30 or 40 years. Instead, he has two main objectives in the Middle East. We can’t allow an Islamic theocratic dictatorship to get a nuclear weapon, that’s number one. And number two, we can’t allow American servicemen and women to continue to die for causes that are not totally articulated and is America’s continued perpetual and ubiquitous presence in the Middle East helping the nation state? That’s it. Those are his two objectives. And I think those are very rational objectives that a radical Islamic theocratic medieval-style dictatorship should not have nuclear weapons, but also that we should not be occupying every single nook, cranny, valley, river in the region of sand and death. And look at the results of this: History is going to be very unkind to the Bush and Obama doctrines. We have to remember Barack Obama, he gave a billion dollars in cash and $150 billion in sanctions relief to Iran. But he totally screwed up Syria and he totally screwed up Libya as well. He toppled Moammar Qaddafi—Libya is in shambles right now because of that—he allowed ISIS to rise without doing anything, and he did not strike back against Bashar al-Assad when he gassed his own citizens which led to hundreds of thousands of citizens being displaced or murdered because of famine or any of the other consequences of war.”

Kirk also said that Trump has completely changed the game on the Pacific Rim with regard to China, halting Chinese Communist efforts to build a “global empire” and focusing the U.S. and the world on the threat that exists from what Kirk considers “our greatest enemy.”

“He has repositioned the global conversation against our greatest enemy—I say this, he doesn’t, because he needs to be more diplomatic—and that is China,” Kirk said. “China is the number one enemy to liberty and freedom in the world. They are positioned against us. They are buying up ports of entry in Africa, mineral rights in South America. They are trying to build a global empire and they are ahead of schedule, so the president is correct to position the focus of the entire global community against China, not the region of sand and death that robs Americans’ lives and has wasted trillions of dollars with nothing to show for it.”

But perhaps more broadly significant than any particular policy win—and there are many of them—Kirk says that Trump has shifted power away from failed institutions of power to newer, rising institutions. Whether it’s the establishment media or cultural elites in Hollywood or the higher education powers-that-be or big tech oligarchs, Kirk says that Trump has been grinding away the failed institutions of the past and empowering the rise of new ones in their place—new institutions that better reflect and represent the state of the nation.

“It kind of goes back to this MAGA doctrine that there are non-governmental institutions that have just as much if not more power in certain vectors of American consciousness and American life that need to be challenged,” Kirk said. “That’s tech, media, Hollywood, and education—those are kind of the big four, and there’s more than that and I think big business might be a fifth—but you guys at Breitbart have done a great job highlighting tech tyranny and whatnot. Trump has pushed power to alternatives away from these extra-governmental institutions that have too much power. So, he’s challenged the fake news media in a way that I think will go down as one of his greatest contributions to our country. He’s allowed us to be critical of the journalist ruling class. He’s allowed us to have other media providers such as Breitbart report the news and be trusted news providers. He has challenged higher education by signing the executive order and pushing a lot of—we’re so thankful he’s given a lot of credibility to Turning Point USA. He’s given us a lot of oxygen and credibility, and we’re very thankful for that—speaking at our events, and highlighting the work that we’re doing and challenging the cartel of the colleges and what they’ve been doing to our country. That’s not to mention Hollywood, which is the means of telling our stories and values or lack of values and ethics to our country. I’ll tell you that Hollywood is broken. The news media is broken and shutting down. How many news organizations have been shutting down? I’m sure you can go through an entire list but I’m sure it’s astounding.”

Kirk said it’s a “good thing” that Trump is “pushing power to people, not to faces of monopolistic control.”

“This is something that’s very positive and good for our country, this decentralization of the presidency goes far beyond him challenging the administrative state or instruments of government. It also goes towards culture, higher education—you and I are fighting different fights every single day but they’re equally important and the president has had our back,” Kirk said. “He’s not afraid to engage in these control fights. This is one of the most crowning achievements of his presidency.”

He pointed to the president awarding the highest civilian honor to nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh at the State of the Union address in February as another example of this.

“He’s not supposed to do that, right? He’s not supposed to crown someone who reaches 12 million people a day on 500 radio stations as the voice of the forgotten man and woman of our country,” Kirk said. “He’s not ‘supposed to do that,’ but he did because he understands the value of culture. He understands how people get their information and who they align with. Meanwhile, the left has understood this for the longest time—President Obama gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Ellen DeGeneres. Give me a break. I mean, I think Ellen is actually is kind of fun—I actually don’t think she’s a pathological leftist like the rest of them, I don’t think she’s ‘pathological resistance’ and I don’t mean to single her out. But if she can get an award, my goodness Rush Limbaugh can get award. This goes to show that the president is finally fighting on their terrain. He’s playing offense against the left, something that will live long beyond his presidency.”

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