In 2016, with the election of President Donald Trump, the United States saw a political shift toward nationalism. Slogans like “Make America Great Again” abounded as some Americans voiced their desire to save their country from globalization and supposed international threats.
National pride is integral to American identity, but when did patriotism turn into with nativism? Since 2016, the U.S. has become a hotbed for nativism, encouraging nationalism in other countries around the world. This rise in nationalism could lead to the persecution of minorities and degradation of democracy around the globe.
Though they have become more visible, nationalistic feelings have been prevalent in the U.S. and around the world long before Trump’s election.
Cas Mudde, a professor of international affairs at the University of Georgia and author of “The Far Right Today,” said in an email, “The U.S. is not leading the pack, but following it. Far right politics have been on the rise in Western Europe since the mid-1980s and has become increasingly mainstreamed since the beginning of the 21st century.”
However, since Trump’s election, white nationalism has become increasingly noticeable, such as in the 2017 Charlottesville protests and 2018 Tree of Life Synagogue shooting. Those aren’t isolated incidents.
According to Mudde, “nativism has become more important to people. This has to do with the focus on socio-cultural issues, notably identity and immigration, often related to security and economic anxiety.”
These violent outbursts are rooted in the thought that international invaders are “killing” America. Fear of diversity has dangerously turned American pride into xenophobia.
Georgia has been split on nationalist politics. Five Georgia companies based in Atlanta and Augusta were interested in the competition for building a prototype for President Trump’s proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
But, while some Georgians push for nativist policies like the wall, others have gone in the opposite direction. The small town of Clarkston, for example, welcomes refugees into their city with open arms, demonstrating how people of all backgrounds can coexist in harmony.
The U.S. is not alone in the era of nationalism but supports nativism immensely. Politicians in Europe are denouncing immigration and globalization, manifesting as Brexit and other euroskeptic movements, actions that were applauded by the Trump administration. China’s government is detaining and brainwashing the country’s Muslim Uighur minority in detainment camps. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro rose to power by copying Trump’s actions and hate speech. India’s parliament passed the highly controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill led by the Hindu nationalist, Bharatiya Janata Party. Called anti-Muslim by opponents, the bill marginalizes Muslim migrants and makes religious faith a condition of citizenship. Nationalistic politics have only promoted homogeneity and exclusion around the world, and as a world leader, the United States amplifies this trend.
We should be proud to be American. This country has long stood for freedom, democracy, innovation and success. Yet in 2019, American analytics company Gallup found that American pride has hit a new record low. Merely 32% of Americans are proud of their political system, and the polarized political climate is doing nothing to help. Citizens’ patriotism shows their strength and will to do better, but patriotism and nationalism are nothing alike. If the U.S. continues to follow this path of extreme nationalism, our country will forget its core belief that “all men are created equal.”