Republican strategist Rick Wilson found himself deeply disturbed by President Donald Trump’s decision to embrace overt nationalism this week, and he thinks that the logical outcome of that ideology will lead to violence on the streets of America.
Writing in the Daily Beast, Wilson breaks down the history of nationalism in the 20th century and explains how governments that have embraced it as their guiding creed have almost always ended in calamity.
“It isn’t feckless, PC social justice-warrior hand-wringing to remind you how dangerous nationalism is as a tool in the hands of those who believe racial identity defines a nation,” he writes. “The 20th Century is replete with examples where nationalism slips down a long, bloody trough to violence, ethnic cleansing, and genocide.”
Wilson says that nationalism thrives because it appeals directly to people’s darkest fears of their fellow humans and tells them that their fears are totally justified.
“It’s a story where the wicked ‘they’ have suppressed and insulted the working volk,” he writes. “‘They’ have a different face in every iteration of this grim dirge. Sometimes, they’re Tutsi. Sometimes, they’re the educated class. Sometimes, they’re Jews.”
In his conclusion, Wilson paints a grim picture of where America is headed under Trump’s nationalist leadership.
“Nationalism deafens its adherents to appeals to the better angels of our nature,” he writes. “Nationalism excuses their hatreds, their resentments, and ultimately their violence… and that violence is the almost inevitable endpoint of most successful nationalist movements in the last hundred years.”