The Corner

‘Revenge of the Nation-State’

In Politico today, I wrote about Trump’s vindication of the nation-state:

In general, immigration is an important focus for Trump’s nationalism because it involves the question of whether the American people have the sovereign authority to decide who gets to live here or not; of whether the interests of American or foreign workers should be paramount; of whether we assimilate the immigrants we already have into a common culture before welcoming more.

The Trump phenomenon is pushback against what the late political scientist Samuel Huntington called the “deconstructionist” agenda in his typically farsighted 2004 book, “Who Are We?” The advocates of deconstruction, according to Huntington, seek to undermine America’s national identity through mass immigration and hostility to assimilation and opposition to the teaching of U.S. history from a traditional, patriotic perspective, among other things.

This deconstruction has been a decades-long project of the country’s “de-nationalized” political and intellectual elites. Huntington argues that until the late 20th century these elites promoted national unity, as one would expect. “Then in the 1960s and 1970s,” he writes, “they began to promote measures consciously designed to weaken America’s cultural and creedal identity and to strengthen racial, ethnic, cultural, and other subnational identities. These efforts by a nation’s leaders to deconstruct the nation they governed were, quite possibly, without precedent in human history.”

If Trump is a welcome rebuke to this attitude . . .