Donald Trump recently “came out” and declared that he is a nationalist.
This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. His campaign slogan was “Make America Great Again.”
Nationalism can be defined as “a political, social, and economic system characterized by the promotion of the interests of a particular nation, especially with the aim of gaining and maintaining sovereignty (self-governance) over the homeland.” When a nationalist politician is elected, they put the interests of their own nation first.
Trump advocates an “America first policy.” More than anything, he wants America to have the strongest economy in the world. For Trump, international agreements must be in America’s best interest. If they aren’t, he wants to renegotiate them.
As a nationalist, Trump believes in free trade. However, unlike previous Presidents, he is willing to impose tariffs on imports if he thinks a trade deal is not fair to American companies or workers.
To better understand nationalism, it is helpful to examine its polar opposite: globalism.
Globalism can be defined as “the attitude or policy of placing the interests of the entire world above those of individual nations.” Whereas a nationalist says, “I’m an American”, a globalist says, “I am a citizen of the world.”
Globalists are often willing to sacrifice the interests of their own nation if it benefits a poorer nation.
For instance, globalists support free trade agreements that allow corporations to move to countries where taxes are lower, regulations are weaker, and wages are cheaper. This has resulted in America losing millions of manufacturing jobs.
Globalists believe in free trade because it lowers the cost of imports and opens access to new markets. Free trade also allows poorer nations to rise economically. If a trade agreement results in job losses in America, that is a sacrifice a globalist is willing to make.
Multinational corporations are in favour of globalism because of the potential for greater profits.
One reason Trump was elected is he gained the support of people whose lives were negatively impacted by globalism. He flipped Rust Belt states that previously voted for Democrats.
Trump’s America First Policy is a serious threat to globalist goals. As a result, globalists often attack American nationalism by conflating it with fascism and racism.
Case in point: Adolph Hitler was a German nationalist and a fascist who believed in a superior Aryan race. Hitler murdered 6 million Jews and tried to conquer Europe in World War 2. Democrats have often compared Trump with Hitler.
However, Trump’s nationalism is not about white supremacy or conquering other nations. Unlike Hitler, Trump has not tried to seize absolute power, but accepts the separation of powers in the U.S. government.
Trump believes in economic nationalism. He wants all Americans—not just white Americans—to be the most prosperous people in the world.
Whether a nationalist or a globalist, it is human nature to do what is in a person’s self-interest. If globalism has had no negative consequences in your life, you will have no reason to be a nationalist.
It is easy to support globalism when your job is secure. However, if globalism has resulted in the loss of your job or business, a nationalist politician may appeal to you.
Trump’s nationalism appeals to millions of American voters because they believe that unlike previous Presidents, he is trying to do what is best for America. Globalists oppose him because he is not willing to sacrifice American interests and do what is best for the whole world.