Nationalism has a gravitational force that pulls one leftward on social welfare policies, which is why the Trump agenda is both nationalistic and progressive. The new breed of nationalists hasn’t noticed, but nationalism takes two very different forms. Vertical nationalism desires its country’s glory, its preeminence over that of other countries. Horizontal nationalism rests on a sense of kinship to and fraternity with fellow citizens, and that in turn implies free market policies that create the economic conditions that provide jobs (with a better understanding of economics than anyone possessed in 1911), as well as a generous social safety net for those who can’t work.
Historically, Republicans have been the party of vertical nationalism, and Democrats the party of horizontal nationalism. That kind of nationalism they left to the Democrats, to people like FDR. What was remarkable about the 2016 Republican victory was that, almost for the first time, a presidential candidate ran on a platform that united the two strands of nationalism.
If that’s what makes the progressive conservative progressive, he is also a conservative who thinks that the government should suppress riots forcefully, that the police are owed our presumptive support, and that nothing good was ever born out of anarchy. He thinks that we’re self-deceived about our goodness and that a sense of justified anger too often serves to excuse crimes.