Populist, patriot and nationalist have become put-down words. Making the illogical and unfair error of judging an idea by its misrepresentation, critics of populism, patriotism and nationalism display their bigotry, not to mention their misunderstanding of words.
Judging Christians by the KKK that attempts to shroud its evil with the Christian cross is both wrong and ignorant. Judging churches by the actions of Westboro Baptist Church is just as wrong. Yet such misrepresentation has gone on for decades. Most Southerners are not bigots, most Jews are not rich, most millennials are not lazy and most citizens north of the Mason-Dixon Line are not unfriendly.
But reading the New York Times or a handful of other nationally known newspapers, one would think that any American who won’t disavow the labels populist, patriot and nationalist is illiterate and bigoted. Why this myopic view of fellow citizens? Why the disdain for simple love for one’s country? We used to call this disdain “prejudice,” a word that is falling away, but it means pre-judging or judging others as you lump them with a group and then cast aspersions on the entire group.
In the Marietta Daily Journal several days ago, columnist Pat Buchanan wrote, “The nation is the largest entity to which one can give loyalty and love.” Buchanan extols France’s great general Charles De Gaulle who believed in and pressed for “nation-states from the Atlantic to the Urals.” And what does Buchanan get for his love of his nation and the belief that American civilization is in great danger of early death? He is tagged as a “nationalist,” one who despises all other nations and views them with condescension.
But alas, it’s not just America’s deplorables who subscribe to love of one’s nation as per President Trump’s “America First” theme. European nations are also fed up with globalization, multiculturalism and all other such efforts to pull us into what amounts to world union. Enough of “We are the world, we are the people.” We are nations.
Across Europe and in India, Trump-like sentiments are spreading. Twenty-eight countries recently held elections for representatives to the European Union; 751 seats in the EU parliament in Brussels were up for grabs. At least three European nations come to mind where the winds that swept Trump into office are touching down in Europe as well. As it turns out, populist/nationalist coalitions are reshaping both American and European politics. In India, the pro-America Nationalist Party just won an overwhelming victory.
In England, the Pro-Brexit Party — which favors Britain’s departure from the EU and a return to national sovereignty — surged to victory. The established parties, Conservatives and Labour, faltered. In France, the National Front party led by Marine Le Pen won the national election for EU representatives, thereby moving Le Pen’s party into first place over current president Emmanuel Macron. Le Pen claimed Macron has “displayed extreme arrogance and spite for common people and the French people in general.” She asserted French politics can no longer best be described by the terms “left” and “right,” but by nationalist and globalist. How applicable to American politics is that?
Le Pen stated, “Globalism breeds a post-national spirit which carries the notion that borders must disappear.” In Italy, the League Party of Matteo Salvini also won big. Like Le Pen, Salvini has preached national sovereignty and independence from the EU.
These victories don’t mean the EU will soon be upended. They do, however, spell trouble. Given that Hungary and Poland also have nationalist parties that are on the rise and that Germany’s leader, Merkel, was soundly defeated in the EU vote, change is definitely happening.
What is all of this but the desire for local rule? How was Donald Trump able to smash both political parties, embarrass the experts and tame a previously impenetrable news media? Why, even in Scotland, are coalitions forming to bring about a total break from Britain? Why, if “union” is so good, did the Soviet Union last barely 70 years?
Europe’s Old Guard is faltering. So is the political party system in America. Trump’s rallies are nothing more or less than a great revolt of the middle class. His supporters are based in work and driven by faith. They apparently like a billionaire who, though he cusses, doesn’t drink or smoke and definitely connects with them.
Populism means “of the people.” As it turns out, people around the world are tired of having pseudo-“diversity” crammed down their throats. The Brits want to be Brits, the French want to be French, and India wants to be Indian. What’s wrong with that?