The Corner

Politics & Policy

Vocab. in the Age of Trump

Trump was speaking of Gary Cohn, his departing economic adviser: “He may be a globalist, but I still like him. He is seriously a globalist, there’s no question. But you know what? In his own way, he’s a nationalist, because he loves our country.”

Trump has not only changed the Republican party and the conservative movement — if there still is one — he has also changed the very way we talk. “Globalist” is on the lips of the Right now.

I have friends who were staunch Goldwaterites and Reaganites for decades. Last year, they started using the word “globalist,” as an epithet. I was shocked. Had never heard them talk that way, or think that way.

This is what I call “Trump trickledown.” I’ve seen some of the best minds of my generation, and others, addled by Trump. It is a self-addling, though: They have done it to themselves. (Peer pressure contributes, of course. “Hop on the Trump Train or git crushed,” people tell you.)

What is a “globalist”? Someone who supports free trade? Recognizes the need for alliances with others? Understands the value of U.S. leadership in the world? Travels? Is it a synonym of “Reaganite”? Is it code for “Jew,” as “neocon” often is?

I think the word “globalist” in the mouth of the Right is akin to “fascist” in the mouth of the Left: It means, essentially, “I disagree with you and I hate you and I’m better than you.”

Turn, now, to the other part of Trump’s statement about Cohn: “In his own way, he’s a nationalist, because he loves our country.” B.T. (Before Trump), we called someone who loves his country a “patriot.” Do you have to be a nationalist to love your country? That would rule out most of us patriots, I gather.

And the great nationalists, the great America Firsters, seem to be awfully quiet when it comes to the Kremlin’s attacks on our country. Knock the FBI, the media, and Oprah — knock the Democrats, Theresa May, and Jeff Sessions — but heaven forbid you should utter a peep about Vlad (unless it’s praise).

I have seen onetime moralists go positively libertine when it comes to presidential character. I have seen one-time free-marketeers make excuses for Trumpian autarky and corporatism. (“Don’t pick winners and losers!” they used to say.) I have seen people well along in years suddenly transformed in mind and speech. It has been one strange trip.

Words matter, especially out of a president’s mouth. Virtually everything a president does has an effect on the public. Kennedy didn’t wear a hat, so men stopped wearing hats. That kind of thing. But when Trump equates “globalism,” whatever he means by it, with treason or something, and when he substitutes nationalism for patriotism, I will fight him, and not alone, I’m happy to say.


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