That idea remains very much with us: Barack Obama’s spoke of “economic patriotism,” an idea dear to President Trump, and he self-consciously imitated Theodore Roosevelt’s “New Nationalism,” even going so far as to deliver a speech on the theme at the site of TR’s original “New Nationalism” speech. “I’m here to reaffirm my deep conviction that we are greater together than we are on our own,” he said, which was if anything anodyne compared to TR’s version, which calls to mind the rhetorical excesses of Elizabeth Warren: “We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well-used. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community.”
The words “permit it” speak to the divide between traditional conservatives on the classical-liberal model and the (New) New Nationalists on the Roosevelt-Obama-Trump model. This permission mentality touches every aspect of nationalist economic thinking, which is how such meaningless bookkeeping exercises as the calculation of trade deficits and income inequality come to be understood as pressing national concerns. Putting markets under economic discipline is where progressivism, socialism, fascism, and nationalism all intersect, each of those ideas being based on the superstition that the nation has interests distinct from those of the people who compose the nation.