The Origins of the Trump Revolution

The 2016 election ushered in a realignment of the political culture from a debate about big vs. small government and social issues to a one between globalism vs. nationalism. Aspects of those old debates remain, but they are now best understood as a clash between globalist elites ideologically committed to free trade, immigration and relaxed social values versus those who believe that stable families and the preservation of a national identity and the American Dream are more important. The attached article from 2016 is thus still relevant, if simply because it explains why approximately 40% of the electorate remains devoted to President Trump in spite of his obvious personal failures.

Politics has become more caustic because neither side fully recognizes this new alignment and the realistic legitimacy of the other side of the spectrum. To avoid this reality, media and governmental elites obsessively recycle the old debates much as the politics of the Gilded Age of the late nineteenth century degenerated into recycling old arguments about alcohol temperance, immigration, and responsibility for the Civil War (Rum, Romanism and Rebellion).

The rise of the Populist Party in the late 1800’s forced economic inequality, pernicious market power and the resulting crisis in democracy to the front of the debate. Eventually, the confrontational populist approach gave way to the Progressive Era, of which Theodore Roosevelt was a leader.

Donald Trump clearly is not that leader. However, his election will hopefully open the system to a new more constructive approach to the same kinds of issues that exist today. Whether this will require a new political party or an ideological shakeup of the current two parties still remains to be seen.

Nationalist Theory, Politics

A Globalist’s Failed Attempt to Understand Nationalism

This article missed a real opportunity to craft a modern American liberal nationalism in the tradition of Theodore Roosevelt’s New Nationalism speech. It first attempts to belittle nationalism by conflating the concepts of “nation” and “state”. While the modern-day state is arguably a recent phenomenon, nationhood is almost as old as humanity itself. Statehood is a creature of international law dating back to the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. States are entities that have sovereignty over territory. Nations, on the other hand, are peoples with a common heritage, usually ethnic in nature. There are states that are not nations and nations that are not states. The African states created after the end of colonialism are the best example of the former and the world is full of examples of the latter, such as the Kurds. 

In contrast, the United States was founded not on an ethnic or denominational basis, but on the concept that all were created equal and were endowed with basic human rights. As I mentioned in my previous post on MLK Day, there is, and never should be, such a thing as an ethnic American. While we have struggled, sometimes bloodily, to fully realize this vision, we should never forget how revolutionary the concept was during the monarchical, absolutist nationalism of the 18th and 19th centuries. We fashioned a nationalism that was committed to achieving the American Dream for all our citizens regardless of origin or religion in the hope that other nations would see the benefits of such a society and adopt this vision in their own unique way. 

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