I believe Donald Trump when he says that he’s a nationalist. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s obvious he’s not intelligent enough to hold to any substantial ideological framework, however nationalism is precisely the sort of shallow ideological framework that would appeal to a habitually dishonest grifter and con man like Trump.
As an ideological framework, nationalism barely qualifies. Nationalism doesn’t require any deep intellectual commitment, only an unquestioning loyalty to the partisan nation-state. That is and has always been the danger posed by nationalism. This is why nationalism has always been a simple-minded ideology for simple-minded people.
The dumber someone is, the less likely they are to question a lie draped in a flag no matter how ridiculous the lie is, and, in the age of ideologically biased alternative media spewing ideologically biased “alternative facts” to people demonstrably incapable of discerning truth from fiction, nationalism has become more dangerous than ever.
Every nationalist is capable of the most flagrant dishonesty, but he is also – since he is conscious of serving something bigger than himself – unshakeably certain of being in the right.George Orwell, “Notes on Nationalism”
The real problem posed by nationalism is that it has absolutely no intellectual framework. Nationalism is just an empty political box into which its partisan leaders can put whatever culturally significant symbols they need to get their supporters on board. It’s supporters will see what they want to see in nationalism.
American conservatism, on the other hand, is a philosophically dense ideology, rooted on centuries of political philosophy. Symbols come out of conservatism, but no one symbol can fully encompass the ideas within. Conservatism isn’t an eagle, a bell, or a flag but sacred truths that exist independent of those or any other symbol.
The truths at the core of American conservatism, such as the belief that all men and women are endowed with unalienable rights that supersede governments and societal assumptions, ring true, whether an eagle or a even a chicken is emblazoned on a nation’s coins. The colors on the flag are totally irrelevant to these truths.
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.Martin Luther King, Jr
The truths sacred to American conservatism are not limited by borders, deserts, rivers, seas or even the sky itself. Wherever a man or woman may go, even into the deepest reaches of space, there too will he or she be entitled to the rights of life, liberty, and property. These truths submit to no nation or creed.
And here is the great divide that stands between the nationalist and the conservative. The nationalist believes that being born on the wrong side of a national border introduces some defect within the foreigner’s unalienable individual rights such that arbitrary matters of the nation-state can and must supersede the individual’s rights.
The conservative, on the other hand, recognizes such tyranny for what it is, a sacrilege against the divine spark of our common creation, intended to separate brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters. For the conservative, there can be no greater betrayal of the truth of the bonds that exist between all of humanity.
Reject nationalism, patriots. Embrace “liberty and justice for all“.
Liberty is For The Win!