You know America is in trouble when the president is viciously slammed simply for saying good things about the country.
Appeals to the inherent goodness and manifest greatness of America used to be a staple of political oratory. It was so commonplace that it was entirely noncontroversial. Love of country was taken for granted.
But when President Donald Trump described himself as a “nationalist” at a rally in Texas, it set off a firestorm of criticism. Nationalism is now the new “n-word.” CNN’s Jim Acosta pathetically insinuated the president was making a secret appeal to racism. MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace invoked her History Channel-based education to tie in Nazi appeals to German nationalism, while perhaps being unaware that the Nazis also were ardent socialists. Maybe she missed that program.
This predictable progressive panic is baseless and tiresome. It is a willful misunderstanding of what Trump means when he says nationalist. The president framed the term against “globalist,” which in his words is “a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly not caring about the country so much.”
This has always been part of the president’s America First agenda, to represent U.S. interests in dealings abroad rather than promoting the internationalist agenda of his predecessors of both parties.
Nationalism as a response to the left’s tribalism
Trump’s nationalism is also a patriotic appeal for national unity and pride. It is a response to progressive tribalism, which seeks to divide the country into grievance groups and promote a narrative of shame. Decades of revisionist history and grievance ideology have corrupted the American story. The left defines politics in terms of alleged oppression that forms the root of their demands as purported victims. Any notion that the United States is praiseworthy disrupts their relentless quest for proof of victimhood.
Thus when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said America “was never that great,” he was simply expressing the dominant progressive view in very mild terms.
And woe to any Democrat who forgets that America exists only to be criticized. In Pennsylvania, Allegheny County Democratic Party Executive Director Mark Salvas, a former Marine and veteran, was driven from his position for posting “I stand for the flag, I kneel at the cross” on social media. He failed to realize that on the left, flags are for kneeling or burning and crosses are for tearing down. Then-Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, in the wake of the 2017 violence at Charlottesville, innocently invoked “patriots … Thomas Jefferson and George Washington who brought our country together” as an appeal for unity in the wake of the tragedy. He was immediately slammed by the left for daring to praise icons of U.S. history who were “seeding white supremacy.” To the progressives, the Founders were slavers, the Constitution is racist, and Mount Rushmore should be blown up.
We need a national narrative we can believe in
President Trump’s patriotic appeals are controversial only because hating America has become so deeply embedded in progressive thinking. But if our nation is to survive, it must have a national narrative that seeks not to blame but to inspire, not to divide but unite, not to demean but uplift. As I noted in “Erasing America: Losing Our Future by Destroying Our Past,” people want to feel good about their country and their history. Americans have a right to a positive national story that engages their spirit and sense of possibilities. It is not a thoughtless glorification of all things American, but the recognition of American ideals, and a belief in seeking the best for the country as a whole.
Donald Trump is appealing to this time-honored idea; not just restoring economic growth and international clout but reviving the greatness of the American spirit. Part of making America great again is restoring the American story, and with it our sense of destiny, dynamism and optimism. Whether you call it nationalism, patriotism or Americanism, it is our common legacy. We discard it at our peril.
via USA Today