Whenever I debate nationalism with friends who champion it, the argument I usually hear up front is that the country needs more solidarity. Nationalism binds the country together. Nationalism is the only means by which patriotism and solidarity can express themselves in the political arena.
I have my agreements and disagreements with all of this. But there’s no need to dwell on them here. What I will say, however, is that these views are expressed in good faith and with good intentions, at least by my the people I have in mind. And, as I always say, I do believe a little nationalism is necessary for any country to survive and thrive.
I am still open to the idea that this is mostly what Trump has in mind when he says he’s a nationalist, as he did again last night on Laura Ingraham’s show.
(Of course, he adds another element. It’s an echo of Yoram Hazony’s argument that I think should more properly be called “nation-ism” not “nationalism.” Hazony argues that the Westphalian nation-state should be the bedrock unit of international relations. Hazony’s argument is complex. Trump’s is simplistic: Either you are a nationalist or a globalist. This is a really silly or useless framing. But we can discuss that later.)