Dispatch: Economic Nationalism Can Help Fight Social Breakdown

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By an anonymous Better Angels Member and Trump Supporter

Ever since the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, the word “nationalism” has become connected to domestic terrorism. It is regularly asserted that domestic white nationalist terrorism is the greatest terrorist threat confronting our nation. The New Zealand mosque and El Paso shootings seem to validate this idea that White Nationalism is growing, perhaps in response to mass migration and the fear of shifting demographics. A growing number of people are reading about these ideas on social media platforms, which has resulted in people being de-platformed, and message boards being taken down. All of the Democratic presidential candidates have made statements about White Nationalism and social media’s role in its spread.

From my perspective, though, there’s an important distinction that needs to be explored, between economic nationalism and the more sinister ethno-nationalism. The ignorance of this distinction, whether willful or otherwise, has contributed greatly to the disconnect between supporters of President Trump and those who condemn him.

Nationalism simply means putting your nation as the top priority, and the vast majority of those of us who support it have no desire to see the U.S. become an ethno-state. Steve Bannon, the president’s former advisor, and by many accounts the architect of his successful election, is an economic nationalist. It’s about using the state to protect the little guy against corporatists—it’s not about skin color. And the consequences of not practicing economic nationalism can be extreme.

Before Millennials were old enough to vote, the United States globalized economically.  On December 8, 1994 the Uruguay Round Agreements Act was signed into law, which made the U.S. part of the transformation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) into the World Trade Organization (WTO). Financier Sir James Goldsmith predicted that this globalized economy would impoverish and destabilize the industrialized world, and cruelly ravage the third world. Goldsmith predicted the migrant crisis back in 1994, due to the coming globalization.

The U.S. embraced policies that would bankrupt companies that did not transfer production abroad, toward countries where people would work for next to nothing. American companies were rewarded for eliminating their own workforces. Their workers were told that this shift—forcing Americans to compete with workers in China, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, among others—would somehow create jobs and stimulate the economy by making goods more affordable.

Some argue that an industrialized world is better for developing countries. I can’t assess that idea with any confidence; I would like to learn more about what industrializing these regions actually does for them. But I do feel confident that what it did to America was crush the middle class, and the upper echelons of society and the mainstream media seem completely unaware that this happened.

The days of decent paying manufacturing jobs were over before the oldest of Millennials made it to high school, but they could now get cheap stuff at Walmart that was imported from the developing world. My understanding is that one of the consequences has been a decline in life expectancy in the U.S. due to drug overdoses and suicide.

I have heard Steve Bannon compare Millennials to 19th-century Russian Serfs. Bannon asserts that Millennials are better fed, in better shape, and more culturally aware than the Russian Serfs. But Millennials own nothing, are a mere two paychecks away from financial ruin, and live at the mercy of the globalized economy.

Andrew Breitbart used to say that politics is downstream from culture. I love this sentiment. Anger and resentment has replaced apathy in what was once the middle class. This is something that needs to be addressed, and Trump addresses it. Trump hosts massive rallies in the forgotten states and supports the people’s battle cries. Why? Because politics is downstream from culture. He is empowering the culture of the middle class. From my perspective, this shows incredible leadership from the president.

As a member of his base, I can tell you that I want all neighborhoods in America to be clean and safe. I would like to live in a society where people were focused on intrinsic values, like being a trustworthy and kind neighbor. When I think of “Make America Great Again,” I think about a time when people were fair-minded, and not trying to glamorize debauchery. When people saw members of their community pulled over to the side of the road with car troubles, their instinct wasn’t to “stay out of it,” like it is now.

When I say MAGA, I’m not saying that I wish I lived in a segregated society. America declined when the middle class was crippled by the move to a globalized economy. The unraveling of middle class morale, the breakdown and distrust of others—this all happened with the loss of our jobs. MAGA represents the times before this breakdown.

I would consider President Trump an economic nationalist.  He has demonstrated economic nationalism in multiple policy initiatives since his election.  Much of Trump’s base, myself included, feel that the left’s solutions only put a band-aid on problems that their globalism-on-steroids has caused, like extreme income inequality, the opiate crisis, and the destruction of decent stepping-stone jobs.

Economic nationalism is a tool to strengthen the influence of the American middle class in a world that would prefer to ignore the fly-over states. It’s a framework that calls for controlling globalism at a pace that is best for working-class Americans.

The author requested to remain anonymous. -LNP

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2 thoughts on “Dispatch: Economic Nationalism Can Help Fight Social Breakdown”

  1. Justin Naylor

    Thanks Anonymous for this post. I too think of myself as an economic nationalist, and the distinction you draw is essential and a good starting point for conversations between reds and blues. I share your admiration for Bannon too. But I wonder about Trump. I don’t see him as a true economic nationalist because I don’t know what he really believes and I’m not sure he has a firm grasp on the depth of these issues. And even if he did, I’m concerned that his polarizing rhetoric makes him unfit for the job. Also, although I think you and I would agree on an ideal economic vision for America, we are currently so far from that ideal that I’m not sure how to even begin to get there. Our economy is so global, that I fear that taking steps to untangle it could make things much worse, which might be happening with the tariffs. For me, it would require a true Marshall Plan, of sorts. It’s the work of a generation. I wonder how you think we can begin the work without making things worse?

  2. Erica Etelson

    I agree with you that economic nationalism and ethno-nationalism are distinct ideologies and that there’s a legitimate debate to be had about economic protectionism and the many devastating downsides of globalization. From what I’ve observed, Trump is a proponent of BOTH forms of nationalism. Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and other Trump advisors have a long history of sowing anti-Muslim disinformation and hatred and pushed him to ban Muslims from entering the country. Miller worked closely with avowed white nationalist Richard Spencer when they were students at Duke. Spencer and other white supremacists have, at various times, hailed Trump as their leader. And Trump has made many inflammatory, disparaging remarks about non-white “invaders” and people of color who should go back where they came from. When it comes to vote for the next POTUS, I’m looking for a candidate who will improve wages and working conditions for all workers and who will honor principles of racial, ethnic and religious equality and inclusion.

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