Panelists Steven Vertovec, a CU alumni and expatriate researching global diversity; Michael Franc, the director of the Hoover Institution and a Republican strategist; and Maurizio Geri, an international relations analyst, led a discussion titled “Nationalism Returns to America” that addressed the recent, sharp rise in nationalism in the country and around the world.
The talk, part of the Conference on World Affairs at CU Boulder, centered around the nationalist political climate surrounding President Donald Trump’s election and its relation to other nationalist beliefs in countries around the globe.
According to Vertovec, there are different forms of nationalism, but each shares one unifying factor: every leader of a nationalist country governs in the name of the people. However, he believes the problem in these beliefs lay in the fact that “the people” usually only accounts for a certain group of the whole public.
“This is the rhetoric of addressing ‘the people’ in exclusionist terms,” Vertovec said. “We see the same thing picked up by Donald Trump [on] Feb. 17.”
Vertovec referenced President Trump’s Feb. 17 tweet criticizing media outlets like the New York Times and CNN for reporting “fake news” and calling them “the enemy of the American people.”
Despite the many manifestations of nationalism, the similarity among them creates a hierarchy of people that perpetuates elitism, according to Vertovec.
Franc defined this segment of people in America as being non college-educated whites that believed they must stand in solidarity against the institutions that they believe weren’t helping them.
Franc used the term the “Trump tradition” to compare it to the Jacksonian frame of thought that prizes honor, a strong military and purveying an “America first” ideal.
Geri addressed the nationalist trait of prioritizing one’s home country over international relations.
“Nationalism is coming back because of the illusion of the nation-state,” Geri said.
According to Geri, after World Wars I and II, some leaders sought to appeal to older identities associated with the nation-state that relate to that same Jacksonian framework.
The panelists each agreed that nationalism can take various forms, but there was an underlying warning hidden in their message. Vertovec quoted George Orwell’s Animal Farm to illustrate the division of “the people” that nationalism creates:
“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
Contact CU Independent News Staff Writer Sydney Worth at firstname.lastname@example.org.