The ultimate low point of Barack Obama’s presidency was perhaps his failure in easing the increasing cultural divide in his own nation. With the rise of extremism in groups like Black Lives Matter, the blossoming strength of identity politics, and the acceptance of social justice madness—the first black president doesn’t have much to show for in uniting the nation.
However, the Obama presidency is in the past. What has happened cannot be undone, only addressed. We now have another controversial leader in office: President Donald Trump. I will not claim that he hasn’t been a divisive figure, as even those within the conservative movement had mixed feelings on him. Many identify as Never Trumpers, believing that the Republican Party shouldn’t have to settle for someone like Trump for a number of reasons. While the ideas of Never Trumpers could be unpacked and discussed for hours, a more intriguing discussion revolves around the ideology that has accompanied Trump on his journey to the White House: Nationalism.
Claims that President Trump is a nationalist abound, often without constructive discussion about what that means and what he has done to earn the label. Is nationalism racist? Is it just a strong form of patriotism? If you’re not white, or are an immigrant, can you be an American nationalist? The concept has been tainted by extremists and mischaracterized by those who don’t understand it. Now more than ever, it’s time to set the record straight on nationalism. It’s time to acknowledge that it’s the glue that holds a nation together.
If we examine our nation’s history, it’s obvious that nationalism isn’t a new concept. Nationalism lit the fire that became the American Revolution. Those living in the colonies under Great Britain no longer identified with the Crown. Because of this, the first sentiments of being American, as an identity separate from being English, grew strong. Their experiences were unique and their conviction grew. Thousands died for the desire to be independent.
America, while having internal and domestic ups and downs, has still grown to be a true gem: a nation that values life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How has a nation with such strong and beautiful roots become so divided? It appears as though we’re less likely to view ourselves as Americans and more so as whites, blacks, immigrants, or whatever else it takes to make us feel special. Embracing heritage can be done in reasonable doses, but it is important that we think of the nation we call home first.
Accepting that America has a unique value system, culture, history, and language is crucial to leading a purposeful life in this nation. Embracing this will strengthen unity across all races and backgrounds. How phenomenal is it that there are no biological or ethnic parameters to being an American? Nationalism, when properly executed in America, does not exclude those who are not a certain color. However, Nationalism does encourage assimilation to our culture and shared values, such as free speech, the English language, objective history, and respect for the fact that God has blessed this country greatly.
I’m not suggesting that those from different cultures drop everything about where they came from, but it is beneficial that people here should consider themselves as Americans first. I’m suggesting that we support policies to elevate America on the world stage, respect our autonomy, strongly regulate our immigration to ensure the safety and prosperity of those within our borders, and preserve our current free-market economic system.
There is the question of nationalism versus patriotism and how they differ. Being patriotic is easy, but does not have much value. Patriotism is identified by love and respect for a nation. However, American nationalism is stronger. It honors history, values, and people in an exclusive sense, recognizing that no other nation has topped what the United States has accomplished. This is not to say that individuals from around the world are by any means lesser people than Americans, but recognizing that American culture as whole has impacted the world in a unique and excellent way. Some are quick to use words like “racist” and “hateful” to describe this ideology, though this is an incorrect and lazy assessment of a rich concept that is centered around love: Love for a country that serves the people.
A house divided against itself cannot stand. Should we properly reclaim and implement nationalism into our sentiments, we can equip ourselves with a tool against the rampant division we are faced with. We will see fewer threats to our democracy. Peace will emerge if we can look past the threat of rifts in the modern political scene.
We have thrown nationalism to the side as an outdated concept for too long; now is the time to understand and fully embrace it. We are currently riding a wave of economic prosperity, a return to mainstream nationalist figures, and a break from the far-left “social justice” policies of the past administration. For the sake of healing the social division our great nation is faced with, let’s reclaim nationalism and embrace it for the positivity it holds. For God and country, let us protect our land from all threats, foreign and domestic, tangible and intangible.