Louis Triggs: Must seek shared sense of nationhood

Sunday, March 26, 2017
Must seek shared sense of nationhood

The recent international shift to populism of the right is motivated by a dangerous, outmoded kind of nationalism that must be replaced with newfound reassurance and all-inclusive faith in a global progressive project.

Borders are slamming shut in the United States, in Hungary, in the United Kingdom; France is on the precipice. The Netherlands only just weathered the storm, but as Geert Wilders, chief of the Islamophobic Dutch Party for Freedom, remarked, “The genie will not go back into the bottle.”

We watch aghast as hyper-nationalist, radically conservative forces wrack the international political framework. Nowhere is this as evident as in the U.S. and the U.K., two nations that have held themselves for a number years in the highest regard as model democracies. Their elections were uprisings of imperialist sentiment in a post-imperialist age: according to British polling website YouGov, 57 percent of Britons feel a sense of pride and nostalgia for the old imperial days.

To abate the forces of nationalism, we must redefine it. We must replace “us vs. them attitudes” with ways to give those left-behind voters who are most vulnerable to the honeyed words of right-wing populists a renewed and inclusive sense of national pride. This will not happen under the reign of such a divisive government with such little intent to address the issues that won the votes that sprung it to power.

As Democrats ready their senatorial counterattack in 2018, they must above all else give voters reason to believe in a new, shared sense of nationhood.

Louis Triggs

South Hadley