Political Focus: What it really means to be a nationalist

Ben Hume, Staff Reporter

President Donald Trump has misused language since the very beginning of his campaign. Words to him are a pretty garnish for his blunt and simple vocabulary. Last week, he finally championed a word that broke the camel’s back. During a speech in Texas on Monday, Oct. 22, Trump declared he was a proud nationalist, a word at odds with the job description of the leader of such a nation.

Nationalism has many definitions and connotations. Trump was most likely trying to use the simple definition, “loyalty and devotion to a nation,” but decided to not read the bottom part of that definition, which says, “exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations.”

In a nutshell, Trump is defending a platform of international superiority and, connected to that, a type of racism. Nationalism is connected to a great number of negative historical movements, like Nazism, the beginning of World War I and colonization. The idea that one nation is superior to all leads to corrosive mindsets about outsiders and other nations, something not foreign to this administration. Anyone keeping up with the story of the migrants seeking asylum at the Mexican border and this administration’s response to it can see that clearly.

Trump, of course, would never filter anything he said before a speech — it simply wouldn’t be in character. But doing any cursory dictionary search would have revealed just how negative it is to be a nationalist. Trump might have a veil of idiocy to cover some of his decisions, but this is egregious. Anyone who took a high school history class knows the negative effects of nationalism on a struggling post-World War I Germany.

This veil of misusing language to rally his loyal fanbase is a tried and true tactic of this administration. Trump has used words seemingly incorrectly before just to see his voters support him blindly. This time, there are real stakes.

Remember that at this time, there are multiple international events and crises demanding the attention of the United States. The migrant caravan on its way through Mexico, the largest cyclone to ever strike Asia and the ever present issues this president has with the Middle East — all issues that should demand the attention of a large nation such as the U.S. But it is easier to burn a bridge than to build one, and aggressively focusing inward at the expense of the international community and the earth is on the top of the docket.

Any time anyone in politics uses a word you are unfamiliar with, the easy way out is to just go with it. Resist that urge, look up things you don’t know. But Google is always within reach, and being educated on as much as possible is the way to combat techniques like the one Trump uses. Stay vigilant, and stay educated.

It is far easier to hate and dismiss, especially in today’s confusing and antagonistic political climate. We must try to be better.