The Corner

Politics & Policy

Trump’s Unifying Nationalism

I wrote an opus at Politico today on nationalism and Trump’s State of the Union:

Donald Trump gave a notably unifying State of the Union address that didn’t back down an inch from his controversial nationalism.

This might sound like a contradiction. It’s not. It’s a step toward fulfilling the political promise of his style of nationalism that could appeal much more broadly than to Trump’s intensely devoted base.

Nationalism shouldn’t be synonymous with Trump’s crudity of expression. It doesn’t mean yelling at rallies, or tweeting inflammatory messages, or insulting political adversaries—all of which could more legitimately be pinned on Trump’s populism, or more fundamentally, his personality.

Rather, it is an American tradition that runs through Alexander Hamilton, Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.

A true American nationalism should be grounded in our common citizenship, champion popular sovereignty, and exult in our history, culture and ideals. It should the enemy of identity politics (“white nationalism” and “black nationalism” are contradictions in terms). It should be expressed in first-person plural, rather than in the first-person singular.

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

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