Patriotism not nationalism

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The United States has been exceptionally adept at creating a society in which advancement is contingent on the merit and work ethic of the individual, regardless of factors still important in many parts of the world:  factors like ethnic background, ancestry, and religion.  This is an achievement to cherish because the race between humans to get ahead can get quite ugly.  America enables people to get ahead in a fairly peaceful manner, something much of the world struggles to do.

Donald Trump often has a nasty bite to him, but when people live in times of exceptional hardship, and feel very insecure, they are not only prone to behave worse themselves, but also prone to look to leaders who appear to have the kind of grit that’s required to make it in a tough world.  We live in a world of difference and conflict, where people readily engage in battles to outperform and defeat each other in competitive environments.  Donald Trump has appealed to so many Americans because, in their eyes, he’s a symbol of a successful man who has made it big.

A contingent of Trump supporters feel like they are losing in life’s competitive atmosphere, because they think that the rules of the game are unfair and increasingly biased against them, whether because jobs are being outsourced overseas, or the jobs at home are being taken by illegals crossing the border.  Many of Trump’s supporters are white, having a sense of ownership and entitlement regarding the idea that this land is primarily their land.

Progressives in the US obviously struggled long and hard to make non-whites gain the privileges and rights that whites have had from the onset of the republic.  But progress throughout our history has always been accompanied by backlash, and worries that more inclusivity would make the competitive arena of life more difficult than it already is.  It’s thus understandable that in any country, groups who comprise the dominant ethnic group, whose settling and establishment of the country have defined the mainstream culture, cite their affiliation with this group to get more favor and privilege.

Will America become more like other parts of the world, in which traditionally dominant ethnic groups go to far lengths to advance their interests at the expense of others?

Even though America has become an increasingly civilized and just society, universal human inclinations towards ethnocentrism and nationalism still lurk in our society as they do everywhere else; as a result, many Americans support Trump to lead them to more secure and prosperous times in the particularly unstable and harsh waters of contemporary life.

The US has endured as a relatively stable and cohesive society throughout its’ existence, except for the devastation that was wrought upon our land by the Civil War.  Although I can’t fathom how another full-scale conflict like that can happen again, we need to take heed of when particularly volatile forms of nationalism may start to take a turn for the worse.

 

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