The new nationalism is generic white identity politics

First, suggestions that a Trumpian nationalism is rising among all low-income Americans could only be true if all low-income Americans were white. Reading Breitbart’s celebrations of populist nationalism or the constant invocations of “We the People” from Trump supporters on social media might leave you with that impression. This is not to say that everyone who supports Trump is a “white nationalist” — which conjures various racist doctrines. Rather, it is to simply point out that Trump’s support is overwhelmingly, almost exclusively, white.

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Clinton, according to some polls, gets nearly 9 out of 10 Latino voters and 9.9 out of 10 African-American voters. When Trump pointed out a black attendee at one of his rallies and said, “That’s my African American,” he might have been speaking literally.

I think commentators focus on the broad-stroke economic arguments because the real issues — the American cultural ones — are so fraught. Simply put, this so-called nationalism in the U.S. is really little more than a brand name for generic white-identity politics.

Liberals are uncomfortable discussing this; to do so would acknowledge how they failed the white working-class voters who were once the emotional heart of the Democratic party but are now the core of Trump’s support. The Democrats’ emotional heart now revolves around a diversity-mania that left many of its traditional voters feeling deserted — or as President Obama once put it, bitterly clinging to their guns and their Bibles.

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The Trumpian nationalist right wants to stay focused on economics, because to be open about their cultural appeal would be to admit that they have surrendered to the logic of left-wing identity politics.

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