A cure for Trumpism

A more nationalist politics is, in one sense, a more exclusive politics, as it is based on the premise that there is such a thing as an American national community, and that this community’s interests at times must be placed ahead of humanity as a whole. But nationalism can also be inclusive, insofar as it emphasizes the interests that Americans of all classes and ethnic backgrounds share.

Why should privileged Americans care more about the fate of children raised in low-income United States households than poorer children elsewhere in the world? Part of the reason is that all Americans live under the same government, and if its policies fail the most vulnerable among us, its very legitimacy is in question. Another part, however, is that as Americans we are — or ought to be — linked by bonds of affection and a sense of shared fate.

If the Republican Party wants to offer this kind of unifying nationalism, it clearly needs to abandon Trump’s explicit appeals to white identity. But that’s just a baby step: The only way that Republicans can actually win more Hispanics or African-Americans is by expanding their party’s vision of the American nation to fully include those voters and by persuading them that the party cares about their fate.