‘National’ Doesn’t Mean ‘Federal’

Donald Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” has been portrayed by some as a form of national socialism. Democrats, Republicans, political pundits and conservatives alike have criticized Trump on his nationalistic rhetoric. But is this justified?


Young boy holding a “Make America Mexico Again” sign at an anti-Trump protest.

In a 1993 article in Foreign Affairs magazine titled “The Clash of Civilizations?” Samuel P. Huntington wrote:

World politics is entering a new phase, and intellectuals have not hesitated to proliferate visions of what it will be-the end of history, the return of traditional rivalries between nation states, and the decline of the nation state from the conflicting pulls of tribalism and globalism, among others. Each of these visions catches aspects of the emerging reality. Yet they all miss a crucial, indeed a central, aspect of what global politics is likely to be in the coming years.

It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.

Conflict between civilizations will be the latest phase in the evolution of conflict in the modern world.

[Emphasis mine]

I believe that those Americans who have voted to make Donald Trump the Republican nominee for President of the United States understand this idea of a “clash of civilizations.”

Trump’s focus on national sovereignty (i.e. protecting the U.S. borders, limiting immigration, bringing jobs back from overseas and America’s global  partners, such as NATO, paying their fair share for defense) is a reflection of his understanding that the world has changed. Trump understands that those who gave him the nomination yearn for a revitalized and restored American culture.

After all the United States of America is the only Constitutional Republican form of government in the world.

In 1997 David Brooks wrote a column in The Weekly Standard titled “A Return to National Greatness: A Manifesto for a Lost Creed.” Brooks wrote:

The fact is, if liberals choke on the “greatness” part of national greatness, conservatives choke on the “national” part. Most conservatives have come to confuse ‘national’ with ‘federal.’ When they hear of a national effort, they think “big government program.” Conservatives have taken two sensible ideas and ballooned them to the point of elephantiasis. The first is anti-statism.

They took a truth — that government often causes suffering when it interferes in the free market — and stretched it into a blanket hostility to government. Instead of arguing that government should be limited but energetic, slender but strong, they have often argued that government is itself evil.”

[Emphasis mine]

Some “conservatives” confuse Trump’s nationalism with growth of the federal government’s power. I propose they are wrong. Trump’s nationalism is focused outward, not inward. His nationalism is couched in terms of respect from other nation states to further U.S. national security interests. His focus is on a coherent foreign policy, which puts America’s, and its allies, interests first.

Donald Trump made a major foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. to a gathering of The National Interest Magazine, and its parent institution, The Center for the National Interest. Trump set his vision, purpose, direction and strategy for an “America First” foreign polity:

  1. America is going to be strong again.
  2. We’re getting out of the nation-building business and instead focusing on creating stability in the world.
  3. I will not hesitate to deploy military force when there is no alternative. But if America fights, it must only fight to win.
  4. The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense, and if not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves.
  5. Our goal is peace and prosperity, not war and destruction.
  6. In the Middle East our goals must be, and I mean must be, to defeat [Islamic] terrorists and promote regional stability, not radical change.
  7. Iran cannot be allowed to have a nuclear weapon, cannot be allowed. Remember that, cannot be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.
  8. Finally, we must develop a foreign policy based on American interests.

Trump’s “America First” foreign policy aligns with the current threat of a clash of civilizations but creates a federal government that is limited but energetic, slender and strong.

Trump is leading an insurgency to make America great again. Trump is the leader because he follows the lead of the insurgents – the American people.


Only five countries out of 28 spent the NATO-required 2% of GDP on defense last year

What a 19th Century Political Thinker Can Teach Us About ‘True’ Conservatism

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is by Zassle.com.

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