Remember when you were a kid and your parents or grandparents hosted the holiday dinner? You had the run of the house, you could go wherever you wanted, and do whatever you wanted while your cousins sheepishly tried to figure out the rules and boundaries. At other times, you were that cousin, sitting on the couch as old people watched golf, unsure if any alternatives existed. This is why Donald Trump wants the G7 next year to be held at his resort at Doral.
Home field advantage is a powerful thing. In America, sports teams play entire regular seasons to secure this advantage for a handful of playoff games. In the rest of the world this measure isn’t enough, and they often have two-game matches so each team has a game at home.
Next year the United States has the opportunity to host the G7, arguably the most important meeting among the most important economies in the world. For all the sturm und drang surrounding Trump, his presidency has from day one been first and foremost about trade.
He has already negotiated the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) to replace NAFTA. This is a measure with bipartisan support waiting for Congress to take it up. He has been preoccupied with China and spent vast political capital in his trade war against it. There is little question that the trade war with China has hurt him, but it is so central to his message and presidency that he has to take the hit. And he has to win.
Trump’s single and central premise for his presidency, in regard to immigration, trade, and military spending, is that the rest of the world is taking advantage of the United States. This is the central motif. That having won the Cold War the United States set itself up as the father/protector of the world and is always too lenient in helping out the kids with a few bucks or bombs here or there.
More than anything, Trump’s project is to blow up and recreate the United States’ relationship with the rest of the world. And there is no greater format for doing so than the G7. This is the big boys’ table, where decisions that move billions happen over mediocre hors d’oeuvres. Home field advantage for that? To be able to scuff the table with the heel of your shoe while sitting back relaxed? That’s a hell of a thing. To be able to point to everything and say, That’s mine.
Trump has a style that many, including me, feel lacks manners and basic standards of propriety, but he always has. He got elected because of it, not in spite of it. Of course he wants to lord his giant resort over the head of everyone he meets at the G7. What, are we supposed to be shocked by this? This is what he was elected to do.
And that’s the point. Trump was elected to shake things up, to take Angela Merkel into a gaudy ballroom and proudly tell her that he personally approved every chandelier there. He is meant to bask in his own glory as a proxy for our nation’s and remind the other powers just who exactly they are talking to.
Now look, does it have to be absolutely clear that the G7 doesn’t profit Trump? Yes, of course. Make sure that it is all done at cost. There is no doubt that Democrats will be on top of this like granola on yogurt. But assuming those ducks line up? Come on, this is great. Why don’t we want the president negotiating from a position of strength? He knows where the bathrooms are and that he can raid the fridge. Just like holiday home field advantage, this situation will help the president and the country.