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Is Trumpism the Rebirth of Nationalism?

Since China devalued its currency 3 percent, global markets have gone into a tailspin. Why should this be? After all, 3 percent devaluation in China could be countered by a U.S. tariff of 3 percent on all goods made in China, and the tariff revenue used to cut U.S. corporate taxes.

The crisis in world markets seems related not only to a sinking Chinese economy, but also to what Beijing is saying to the world; i.e., China will save herself first even if it means throwing others out of the life boat.

Disbelievers in New World Order mythology have long recognized that this new China is fiercely nationalistic. Indeed, with Marxism-Leninism dead, nationalism is the Communist Party’s fallback faith. China has thus kept her currency cheap to hold down imports and keep exports surging. She has run $300 billion trade surpluses at the expense of the Americans. She has demanded technology transfers from firms investing in China and engaged in technology theft. Disillusioned U.S. executives have been pulling out.

And the stronger China has grown economically, the more bellicose she has become with her neighbors from Japan to Vietnam to the Philippines. Lately, China has laid claim to virtually the entire South China Sea and all its islands and reefs as national territory.

In short, China is becoming a mortal threat to the rules-based global economy Americans have been erecting since the end of the Cold War, even as the U.S. system of alliances erected by Cold War and post-Cold War presidents seems to be unraveling.

Germany, the economic powerhouse of the European Union, was divided until recently on whether Greece should be thrown out of the eurozone. German nationalists have had enough of Club Med. On issues from mass migrations from the Third World, to deeper political integration of Europe, to the EU’s paltry contributions to a U.S.-led NATO that defends the continent, nationalistic resistance is rising.

Enter the Donald. If there is a single theme behind his message, it would seem to be a call for a New Nationalism or New Patriotism. He is going to “make America great again.” He is going to build a wall on the border that will make us proud, and Mexico will pay for it. He will send all illegal aliens home and restore the traditional value of U.S. citizenship by putting an end to the scandal of “anchor babies.”

One never hears Trump discuss the architecture of our rules-based global economy. Rather, he speaks of Mexico, China, and Japan as tough rivals, not “trade partners,” smart antagonists who need to face tough American negotiators who will kick their butts.

They took our jobs and factories; now we are going to take them back. And if that Ford plant stays in Mexico, then Ford will have to climb a 35-percent tariff wall to get its trucks and cars back into the USA. Trump to Ford: Bring that factory back to Michigan!

To Trump, the world is not Davos; it is the NFL. He is appalled at those mammoth container ships in West Coat ports bringing in Hondas and Toyotas. Those ships should be carrying American cars to Asia. Asked by adviser Dick Allen for a summation of U.S. policy toward the Soviets, Ronald Reagan said: “We win; they lose.” That it is not an unfair summation of what Trump is saying about Mexico, Japan and China.

While the economic nationalism here is transparent, Trump also seems to be saying that foreign regimes are freeloading off the U.S. defense budget and U.S. military. He asks why rich Germans aren’t in the vanguard in the Ukraine crisis. Why do South Koreans, with an economy 40 times that of the North and a population twice as large, need U.S. troops on the DMZ? “What’s in it for us?” he seems ever to be asking.

He has called Vladimir Putin a Russian patriot and nationalist with whom he can talk. He has not joined the Republican herd that says it will cancel the Iran nuclear deal the day they take office, re-impose U.S. sanctions and renegotiate the deal. Trump says he would insure that Iran lives up to the terms.

While his foreign policy positions seem unformed, his natural reflex appears nonideological and almost wholly results-oriented. He looks on foreign trade much as did 19th-century Republicans.

They saw America as the emerging world power and Britain as the nation to beat, as China sees us today. Those Americans used tariffs, both to force foreigners to pay to build our country, and to keep British imports at a price disadvantage in the USA. Then they exploited British free trade policy to ship as much as they could to the British Isles to take down their factories and capture their jobs for U.S. workers, as the Chinese do to us today.

Whatever becomes of Trump the candidate, Trumpism, i.e., economic and foreign policy nationalism, appears ascendant.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. [1] Copyright 2015 Creators.com.

29 Comments (Open | Close)

29 Comments To "Is Trumpism the Rebirth of Nationalism?"

#1 Comment By mohammad On August 25, 2015 @ 12:43 am

Trumpism has two aspects. One, as Pat correctly mentions, is a xenophobic nationalism. But the other aspect is vulgarism, perpetuated by TV and Hollywood and become a feature of suburb America. Trump’s patriotism is an extremely vulgar one. Without being so vulgar, he wouldn’t be so successful.

#2 Comment By William Dalton On August 25, 2015 @ 3:31 am

“To Trump, the world is not Davos; it is the NFL. He is appalled at those mammoth container ships in West Coat ports bringing in Hondas and Toyotas. Those ships should be carrying American cars to Asia. Asked by adviser Dick Allen for a summation of U.S. policy toward the Soviets, Ronald Reagan said: “We win; they lose.” That it is not an unfair summation of what Trump is saying about Mexico, Japan and China.”

Toyota is the only major auto manufacturer in the United States to day which is selling a motor vehicle made in the United States from totally U.S. made parts and labor. The percentage of U.S. parts and labor in Toyota vehicles exceeds that of every U.S. based car company, including GM, Ford and Chrysler. It may strike a popular chord to say we can bring Big Three auto jobs back to America, and make them again dominate the world market to boot, but that is not today’s reality. All these companies in manufacturing and financial industries are today multinational, and you don’t know what countries’ interest they may be serving by looking at their name.

Congress should indeed rewrite the tax code and other laws to make it more profitable to employ American workers and safeguard the supply of vital manufactures here on U.S. shores, and a strategic and judicious resort to tariffs may be a vital part of this plan. But let us not ignore the fact that we will not recreate the world of fifty years ago. The major market for manufactured goods today does not lie in the United States, but abroad. And if we really want to stem the flow of illegal immigration to the United States, we should be hastening to install more plants in Mexico and Central America, and insist on fair wages and working conditions for the labor employed there, rather than trying to take those jobs back to the U.S.

#3 Comment By rosita On August 25, 2015 @ 7:17 am

Trumpism is the same ol’ same ol’ recycled politics of white grievance. I have read some well written articles on this very point penned by other conservatives: [2]

That I think communicate that point quite lucidly. Certainly his ‘nationalism’ is not pluralistic in even the remotest sense…..as a person of color do I see a bright new dawn in the new America of Trump? Certainly not!

#4 Comment By John Gruskos On August 25, 2015 @ 7:34 am

Buchanan was William Wallace, Trump is Robert the Bruce.

Get ready for Bannockburn, lads!

#5 Comment By Clint On August 25, 2015 @ 7:35 am

Trump is demonstrating that opposition to the PC lib media agenda and the Washington Establishment can attract many Americans.

His energetic call to return America’s greatness is attracting Americans,but his scatter gun criticism of anything “Un-Trump’ may wear thin as shallow egotistical bloviating blather.

#6 Comment By Kurt Gayle On August 25, 2015 @ 8:40 am

“They took our jobs and factories…”

“They” didn’t “take” our jobs and factories. American capitalists willingly shipped American jobs and factories overseas so that they could make ever higher profits.

It’s all well and good to talk now about a “New Nationalism” – Americans working together to bring back jobs and factories — but we need to say openly and honestly that it was a certain group of greedy American capitalists who sold out American jobs to begin with – and sent those jobs and factories overseas.

Pat, your solution to the problem is by far the best one: “If that Ford plant stays in Mexico, then Ford will have to climb a 35-percent tariff wall to get its trucks and cars back into the USA. Trump to Ford: Bring that factory back to Michigan!”

But we need to understand that Ford was a big part of the problem to begin with. We need to understand that Ford as part of the Washington donor class can’t be trusted. What we need to do now is to force Ford to do the right thing. Just as you say, we need put a tariff in place high enough that Ford will have no choice but to bring those jobs and factories home!

A great column, Pat! There is hope!

#7 Comment By Mr. Libertarian On August 25, 2015 @ 9:50 am

This:

“While the economic nationalism here is transparent, Trump also seems to be saying that foreign regimes are freeloading off the U.S. defense budget and U.S. military. He asks why rich Germans aren’t in the vanguard in the Ukraine crisis. Why do South Koreans, with an economy 40 times that of the North and a population twice as large, need U.S. troops on the DMZ? “What’s in it for us?” he seems ever to be asking.”

To which I’d add: why can’t Turkey, Kurds, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the U.A.E., and what’s left of the Iraqi military send ground troops in to defeat ISIL? Why does it have to be U.S. troops doing the dying?

This also:

“He is going to build a wall on the border that will make us proud, and Mexico will pay for it. He will send all illegal aliens home and restore the traditional value of U.S. citizenship by putting an end to the scandal of “anchor babies.””

What the commentator ruling class seems to forget is that the U.S. government has been promising its citizens a solution to illegal immigration once and for all, for years with zero results. Desperate times call for desperate measures. They lack the imagination and the smarts to envision a way forward. Skeptics might support an amnesty bill like Schumer-Rubio, if it was satisfactorily demonstrated that this would be the last amnesty. From henceforth, illegal immigration would be practically impossible in the United States. If you want to become an American, you must do it legally, you must demonstrate fealty to this country first, and you must obey all federal laws. And btw, regarding the wall, if walls are allegedly so ineffective, why are they yet so popular? I yet to see any real technology that can replace physical barriers for keeping people out. And as for Mexico paying for the wall, maybe they won’t. But here’s a proposal I have: we’ll give amnesty to any illegal alien who surrenders to the INS or ICE, undergoes a background check, pays a fine, learns English and agrees to help build the wall. The wall could also be one of those great public works projects that Paul Krugman says is necessary to build, like pyramids, obelisks or space lasers, to get this economy moving again. So from a neo-Keynesian perspective this massive public works project could employ tens of thousands, and get money circulating.

Great article Mr. Buchanan! One of your best. You seem to be the only TAC commentator that gets Donald Trump. And I love how you’ve been eviscerating the leftist and neoconservative morons on the McLaughlin Group recently regarding Trump, illegal immigration, the Iran nuclear deal, foreign policy generally and other issues.

I am seriously starting to wonder, whether or not a populist third party, which an issue mix that could draw from both parties, could succeed. I’d love to read your thoughts on the idea of a populist third party.

#8 Comment By Johann On August 25, 2015 @ 9:52 am

Trumpism is the nationalism nurtured by the neoconservatives that is back-firing on them. They are horrified that the nationalism has turned toward economic and immigration issues which detract and may very well eventually oppose their foreign intervention directed nationalism. The reason its backfired I believe is because of the lack of an economic recovery for much of the population that was previously middle class.

#9 Comment By KD On August 25, 2015 @ 10:14 am

Rosita raises an important point, there hasn’t been much outreach to the Black community, which is strange given the persistence of high unemployment since 2008 and empirical studies showing that employers have a preference for Hispanics over Black workers. Also, if you look at Chicago and other traditional Black strongholds, established politicians are being forced out by politicians backed by Latino voting blocs.

None of this, of course, compels the Black community to have one view or the other on immigration. However, it is clear that the political and economic costs of mass immigration are being disproportionately born by the Black working and middle class. Why doesn’t Trump or one of his supporters start addressing these issues, and the stake the Black community has in the immigration debate?

#10 Comment By Fred Bowman On August 25, 2015 @ 10:26 am

Just a thought on the “Wall” that Trump wants to build to keep out illegal immigrants. How those that work? I keep thinking of the words of General Patton who stated that “Walls are monuments to the stupidity of man” What Trump is offering is a “dumb down” and simplistic form of change to a very complex world. If Trump was ever to become POTUS, I’m wondering “just how” he’ll to make these changes? Can’t imagine him being to popular with Congress. Basically Trump doesn’t “play well with others.” Problem is most people don’t get involved with politics until Presidential Elections. And basically what they’re looking for is a “Superman (or woman)” who’ll be a “game changer” and that’s completely unrealistic. Unfortunately that’s what Trump supporters are setting themselves up for.

#11 Comment By Kurt Gayle On August 25, 2015 @ 12:05 pm

KD wrote that “Rosita raises an important point, [that] there hasn’t been much outreach to the Black community, which is strange given the persistence of high unemployment since 2008…It is clear that the political and economic costs of mass immigration are being disproportionately born by the Black working and middle class. Why doesn’t Trump or one of his supporters start addressing these issues, and the stake the Black community has in the immigration debate?”

On the contrary, KD, the Trump immigration policy paper (IMMIGRATION REFORM THAT WILL MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN [3]) has strong recommendations for doing something about high black unemployment and the fact that the “economic costs of mass immigration are being disproportionately born by the Black working and middle class.”

The Trump policy paper states:

“The effects [of illegal immigration] on jobseekers have also been disastrous, and black Americans have been particularly harmed…Today, nearly 40% of black teenagers are unemployed. Nearly 30% of Hispanic teenagers are unemployed. For black Americans without high school diplomas, the bottom has fallen out: more than 70% were employed in 1960, compared to less than 40% in 2000…We need to control the admission of new low-earning workers in order to: help wages grow, get teenagers back to work, aid minorities’ rise into the middle class, help schools and communities falling behind, and to ensure our immigrant members of the national family become part of the American dream.”

#12 Comment By TruckinMack On August 25, 2015 @ 12:40 pm

Trumpism is the great hope of the American people that we could actually elect someone willing to fight the Liberal Democrats, the Liberal media and Liberal Hollywood.

I suspect that ultimately we will be disappointed, but right now it doesn’t matter. He is the only one standing up, clenching his fists and saying, “Do you want a piece of me?’

Mostly the RNC is sitting around in focus groups trying to plot a strategy that will appeal to the far Left.

#13 Comment By John Gruskos On August 25, 2015 @ 12:55 pm

Fred Bowman,

The Israelis have a wall and it works just fine.

With all due respect, Trump really is a game changer. The media can’t ignore him, the big donors can’t buy him, and he doesn’t like to lose.

#14 Comment By JonF On August 25, 2015 @ 1:13 pm

Mexico is in a very different spot from these other countries: it is right next door to the US and as such it is inherently and inescapably linked to us economically just as Canada is. One can make a case for economic nationalism applied as a response to China– but doing that with Mexico would rebound against us as well.

#15 Comment By Tiber On August 25, 2015 @ 1:45 pm

Trump knows how to talk. Big deal. His clothes are made in China just like the rest: [4] . If he wants Ford trucks to be made in America, he should be talking about Ford and not China.

Also Pat, you might want to brush up on history. China has pretty much always considered itself the 800-lb. gorilla of the east. Trump likes to throw his weight around, but China won’t care. Look at the Hong Kong protests. Their reaction to opposition is to double down. That’s WHY we have bases in South Korea and Japan. Do you think we’re really scared of North Korea?

Even as a liberal, I agree with some of the things he’s saying. But all he’s really given us is a bunch of wild promises that have little to no chance of succeeding. Even if he really can’t be bought (which I doubt), how’s he going to get that tariff through Congress? He’s not even president yet and he’s already enemies of some members of the GOP, not to mention and both sides of the aisle are funded by the same businessmen who moved their manufacturing to China. Maybe Trump should talk to his advisers, and come back to us with an actual plan to accomplish all the things he promises. Hopefully they’ll be more nuanced than, “let’s use economic sanctions as a club to force compliance.”

#16 Comment By Majumder On August 25, 2015 @ 2:21 pm

“Since China devalued its currency 3 percent, global markets have gone into a tailspin.”

Devaluation of Chinese currencies is not the only reason for 30% to 50% U.S. stock markets correction that is taking place and, which in my opinion, is long overdue.

Other reasons are: Over 90 million Americans do not find full-time jobs anymore and the trillion dollars of “Stimulus” money that American government spent actually went to salvage employee unions’ pension funds as well as private universities’ endowment funds in lieu of re-building American roads, bridges, airports, and tunnels.

American corporations have been sitting on piles of cash and, instead of investing those piles of cash in American economy, American corporations have been busy buying back stocks and doing costly Mergers & Acquisitions in order to inflate stock prices!

#17 Comment By Andrew Zook On August 25, 2015 @ 3:24 pm

@ Kurt Gayle “They took our jobs and factories…”

“They” didn’t “take” our jobs and factories. American capitalists willingly shipped American jobs and factories overseas so that they could make ever higher profits.”

Exactly… and the “conservative” GOP business class/political class probably did the most of it. And after they did it, they actively and to this day, hoodwink their voters into thinking someone else is doing it. And Trump has done and is doing the same thing. I’m happy to see Trump bring it up. But what would be really sweet, is if it turned on him and all his friends in high places.

#18 Comment By Junior On August 25, 2015 @ 5:13 pm

@Tiber

“Even as a liberal, I agree with some of the things he’s saying. But all he’s really given us is a bunch of wild promises that have little to no chance of succeeding. Even if he really can’t be bought (which I doubt), how’s he going to get that tariff through Congress?”

The main reason why these Politicians are able to get away with the nonsense that they do with no repercussions for their actions is because their Constituents are unaware. Trump can shame them through the media into doing what needs to be done by bringing light to their actions. If President Trump were to have press conferences calling them out by naming-names and these Politicians actually began fearing losing their re-elections maybe something might actually get done in Washington. The greatest bully-pulpit of all is be being President and who better for a bully-pulpit than Trump?

#19 Comment By Clint On August 25, 2015 @ 5:30 pm

Exactly… and the “conservative” GOP business class/political class probably did the most of it.

Actually,the largest corporate donors favored Democrats the last election cycle.

[5]

#20 Comment By hetzer On August 25, 2015 @ 6:48 pm

I can’t spare this goofball, he fights.

#21 Comment By SmoothieX12 (aka Andrew) On August 25, 2015 @ 8:41 pm

It is, actually.

#22 Comment By ElteCommInc. On August 25, 2015 @ 9:37 pm

W should have closed the borders and had a national reassessment about who we are after 9/11.

And just to be clear:

Mr. Trump is certainly appreciated, but for those of us who paid a price for opposing bad foreign economic and military policy

better late than never. The same as for those who trumpeted those policies and now have come around claiming superior wisdom, without ever acknowledging fault.

That is a long and distinguished list of networks and popular columnists, book writers, commentators, policy advocates, industrialists, and TV personalities. Not too mention no small number of the public. All of whom I hope at least have some private shame.

#23 Comment By Fran Macadam On August 26, 2015 @ 12:34 am

“They took our jobs and factories; now we are going to take them back.”

It was profitable for elites here to turn on American workers.

#24 Comment By TB On August 26, 2015 @ 7:42 am

John Gruskos said: Trump is Robert the Bruce. Get ready for Bannockburn
______________________

Trump is Mussolini. Get ready for Ethiopia.

#25 Comment By KD On August 26, 2015 @ 11:38 am

Kurt Gayle:

Then why isn’t Black Jobs Matter shutting down Hillary campaign events?

#26 Comment By Hal Fiore On August 26, 2015 @ 12:23 pm

So what is Trump’s position on protective tarriffs?

#27 Comment By Russel On August 26, 2015 @ 7:13 pm

KD, because she is a former First Lady and has a Secret Security detail. They wouldn’t be able to get so much as a finger on stage. And the reason why they don’t harass republicans is because they feel they can have more of an impact on the issues by pressuring Ds than by dealing with Rs, because the R primary caucuses favor people like Trump who would throw them out of the room instead of Sanders who let them speak. (Dont have time to cite, but the Chairewoman of the DC BLM was on democracynow.org)

#28 Comment By Legal immigrant On August 30, 2015 @ 7:13 am

Trump is AWESOME because he is FREE to speak! Unlike our toy politicians who are already fascists as puppets of corporate lobbyists. There are no D and Rs,there are only big monies controlling society. As a legal immigrant here in the US 40 years and a small business owner I am disgusted with all talking heads in the US (Fox, CNN, radio guys) who muddle the minds of Americans with their propaganda. At least Trump blurts out HIS MIND! Send all illegals back, YES

#29 Comment By Mr. Libertarian On August 31, 2015 @ 9:12 am

@ Russell

Let’s be clear about what happened at the Sanders’ event in Seattle. The BLM protesters threatened to shut down and disrupt his political event, where thousands of people had showed up to see him speak, not them, Bernie Sanders, and ruin everybody’s good time, and Sanders’ just capitulated. He looked weak. I used to be a strong Sanders’ supporter but I changed to Trump after that. I was disgusted. Sanders looked so weak and so impotent. We don’t need that in the Oval Office. You’re right about one thing, Trump would never let them disrupt one of his campaign events. I was disgusted, that and Sanders needs to start attacking Hillary Clinton with negative ads now. I get emails from Sanders claiming we need more Democratic debates. I agree. But what’s the point if Sanders isn’t going to attack Hillary Clinton. Listen, Biden is going to get into this thing because he knows, better than most, how vulnerable Hillary Clinton with this email scandal. Then this race is going to move really fast. Sanders just looks like a deer in the headlights.

And btw, no one has asked how Sanders is going to get any of his platform done? All these media personnel are frothing at the mouth at how enraged they are at Trump, and cannot wait to denounce him in the most vehement way possible and to claim that all of his position have zero possibility of success. Oh yeah, well what about Sanders? How is he going to shove his economic policies through a Congress that implacably opposed? How is he going to amend the Constitution to change the First Amendment? What is his foreign policy? Don’t get me wrong I still like Sanders and would vote for him over 90% of the other candidates. But give me a break! What a double standard. You know Noah Millman has this very smart idea piece on Trump he published, but then he has the temerity to end it with, But I’d never under any circumstances vote for Trump. Really? Seriously? I have never seen in my life anything like this. No one here lays out the virtues and vices of say Sanders or Paul or JEB! and then adds, but I would never vote for them. Unbelievable.