Is Trump a Nationalist?

Mike Wilson

Mike Wilson

Throughout his boisterous campaign, Donald Trump has made many enemies. His anti-politically correct rhetoric stimulates Americans fed up with ‘safe spaces’ and ‘trigger words’. He is an emotional bulldozer, speaking his mind with little to no regard for those who differ in opinion until just recently. Many people, voters and political analysts alike, saw Trump’s hawkish political moves to be more of a downfall than something to back, but it seems the majority of Republicans can rally to the call. Not only Republicans, but Americans as a whole place Trump ahead of Clinton by one point, in a recent poll conducted by CNN. However, previous polls put Clinton at a three point lead, although the voter base is skewed lightly towards a Democratic Party bias. As parties become more polarized the majority sides with democrats, putting independently registered voters in the majority with 42%, Democrats totaled at 29% and Republicans at 26%. With this obvious divide in the voter base, how is it Trump is keeping up with and even beating Clinton in the polls?

The niche that Trump has created for himself is in support of the distinct pseudo-nationalism that goes against most elite opinion. Things like opposition of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and punishment tactics, draconian in nature, for illegal immigrants and abortion. Strong points include: bringing down the hammer on Japanese and Chinese trade, “beating” Mexico and increasing national defense spending to reenergize the United States military. These are all specific signs of nationalism, in one form or another, but lack the unification process to precede the policy implementation. Trump is in support of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s actions in the Middle East, offering words of praise and stating he would get along well with the Russian. Hypocritically, he favors a much more aggressively backed campaign against the state of Islam.

In some cases, isolationist and nationalist go hand-in-hand, but not this one. Trump is truly a nationalist when it suites him best, but an isolationist in most cases. A true testament to this claim would be the wall he wants to build to the south. A literal illustration of isolation.

Surprisingly, this is popular among Republicans. The party usually backs signs of strength, like Reagan in the 80’s against drugs or Bush in the 00’s with counter terrorism, and like to see a strong sense American pride. Current demographics in Republicans show a three way split, focused on conservative internationalism, nationalist conservative and conservative isolationist.

Conservative internationalists believe that the United States should be an active members in events overseas militarily, fiscally and politically. This is a testament to this belief would be presidents Truman and Reagan. Their efforts in foreign policy are illustrated through the “War on Drugs”, efforts to put a stop to the drug trafficking running rampant in the southern United States, and the “Truman Doctrine”, which offered support in all cases of countries threatened by Soviet forces. Trump immediately falls out of this category due to his hands-off approach in foreign affairs. The triangle block to the square hole.

National conservatives embody the principles that focus on mainly national priorities and upholding current cultural identities. Issues like Syrian refugees looking to enter the country create a sense of distress to this group, showing weakness in national defense and immigration policy. Nationalist conservatives are found mostly in southern Europe in post-communist countries and revolve around the fact that other countries reside in close proximity. Many are socially conservative as well, focusing on praise of a family as the center of one’s identity as well as a limit to immigration and ratifying ‘law-and-order’, in favor of a strict criminal justice system, polices. Trump seems to fit a little more neatly into this group, but is even more reserved on foreign affairs and in stronger support of national defense. The circle block to the square hole.

Conservative isolationists hold a strong historical focus on national defense, but refuse to engage in foreign disputes. Supporters like Ron Paul believed that the removal of a robust foreign engagement system would result in a strengthened nation, somewhat like keeping their noses out of others’ business. President Woodrow Wilson attained reelection due to his rhetoric “keep out of war” after Theodore Roosevelt the “Panamanian Revolt” against Columbia to gain control of the Panama Canal. The country was not in favor of this move and showed so in their votes. Neo-isolationism has shown itself in the 21st century due to a chain of poor global affair choices like the War on Terror and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Sound familiar? Trump seems to slide right into this group, advocating their policies and taking them a step further with his “war” on the Islamic state. The square block in the square hole.