Donald Trump as a post-loyalty candidate

by Chris Zappone

It’s getting closer. The moment when the subject of loyalty reemerges in the US national discourse/political shoutfest. Between IS recruiting and sympathizing, armed militias and Russian propaganda designed to exploit legitimate differences within open democracies, you can only expect the issue of loyalty to return. I don’t know if the US in for a round for McCarthyism Part II, but spasms of national paranoia can come on suddenly.

In a way, it sort of makes sense too.

There was a gasp when candidate Donald Trump brushed off concerns about the targeting of journalists in Russia in his praise of Vladimir Putin. It’s a mini-reality check for how far domestic politics have drifted in the US and Europe.

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Donald Trump (WikiCommons: Photo Michael Vadon)

In the past 30 years, Western society has embraced globalization – borderlessness, which is being exploited by transnational terror groups; the internet, which facilitates the spread of ideology regardless of location; and even a post-Cold War complacency about geopolitical challengers, which has seen governments let their guard down to those risks. That’s part of a broad trend.

Soon voters may want to know there is a border, whether political, ideological, or otherwise, between themselves and the outside world. Playing up loyalty to one’s country would also be a way for elites to show their allegiance to the public, rather than to their global peers, which has been a challenge for some.

So there may be a renewed emphasis on national loyalty as an actual issue, especially if there is the sense that the openness of society is being exploited by outside, unfriendly governments and organizations.

The worry is that it manifests itself in outbursts of xenophobia and racism.

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