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Nationalism and Its Discontents: The Meaning of Trump

, January 25, 2016

I have many disagreements with Trump, but unlike his many enemies on the left and especially on the right I understand that his nationalism contains elements that are useful, instructive, and even admirable. Unlike Buchanan, he is certainly no intellectual, but then again the last intellectual to inhabit the White House – Woodrow Wilson – was an unambiguous disaster for the cause of peace and liberty, and so I don’t hold that against The Donald. There is surely a demagogic element to his astonishing rise, which his opponents – particularly those on the right – make much of. The recent jeremiad against him launched by the neocons over at National Review was filled with comparisons to Mussolini, Juan Peron, Hitler (of course!), and even Andrew Dice Clay, this latter barb a direct appeal to the smug snobbery that characterizes our urban elites. “He’s “vulgar,” he’s “rude,” etc. etc., and those were some of the gentler ways they characterized him personally.

Yet demagoguery didn’t bother them when it was deployed by George W. Bush as he marched us off to a disastrous war – a war Trump opposed,

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