On March 30, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to warn that “The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!” To his credit, Pres. Trump is not entirely wrong. The GOP, the White House, and Republican constituents are all currently fundamentally at ideological odds. The Democrats are faring little better, stumbling over themselves to turn out young, cynical progressives who remain reluctant to vote while failing to entice their traditional working class base. More radical members of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) such as Rep. Keith Ellison and Sen. Bernie Sanders chafe under the leadership of old-guard moderates such as Senators Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein, as well as Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
These fissures opening up in the political establishment are endemic of a system organized around an outmoded principle: the left/right dichotomy. To find proof of this, one has to look no further than the policy goals of the Democrats and Republicans. Do Democrats favor trade protectionism? The answer depends on whether you ask Sen. Sanders or President Clinton. Do Republicans favor trade protectionism? The answer depends on whether you ask Rep. Justin Amash or President Trump. These glaring inconsistencies can be found on every issue from trade, to immigration to civil liberties. These aren’t minor contradictions; these are fundamental ideological questions.
So if people and their elected representatives can no longer neatly split along the left/right, Republican/Democrat divide, just how exactly should we categorize them? The answer, which will be the definitive political chasm of the 21st century, is that of nationalist vs. globalist.
Nationalists will have a penchant for some combination of trade protectionism, strengthened borders, populism/authoritarianism, isolationism, and idealism over practicality and compromise. They believe their respective nations should come first in terms of trade and martial power even at the expense of others, and will resist cooperation with other nations. Nationalists thrive on a fear of outsiders and elites, and will have border restrictions and policies attacking either the political or economic establishment to correspond to those fears. They will want to withdraw from the global liberal order and cooperate less with other nations. Nationalists have completely upended US politics, with their standard bearers Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders inflaming populist fervor against the neoliberal establishment. While they appear to fall on opposite ends of the political spectrum, Sanders and Trump share a proclivity for anti-elitism, isolationism, trade protectionism, and emotion/identity based political philosophy, which aligns them more closely than their supporters would like to believe. Other modern nationalists include Vladimir Putin in Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi in Egypt, and many others. This new wave of authoritarian leaders is coalescing into a loosely aligned rejection of the global liberal order, threatening the fabric of modern civilization.
Globalists will favor liberalism, freedom, pluralism, rationalism, and compromise. They will strongly favor integration into the international community, and will advocate for free trade amongst nations and cooperation on issues such as military conflicts and climate change. They will be staunch defenders of civil liberties and stand against authoritarianism. They will be welcoming and understanding of outsiders, encouraging ideological diversity and welcoming refugees and immigrants. They will not stoke fears by scapegoating minorities or elites; rather, they will want to maintain but work from within to improve the current political and economic system. Unlike nationalists who thrive on absolutism and loyalty, globalists will leave room for different viewpoints. Globalists may be hawkish or dovish on foreign policy or prefer a more or less expansive social welfare system, but there is room for compromise on these issues within their ranks. Examples of globalist leaders are Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, President Emmanuel Macron of France, and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. Presidents Obama and Clinton would also be considered globalist.
It is essential to recognize that quintessential American values: those of liberty, justice, and pluralism, call on us to embrace a free, equal, and global community. These values run contrary to those of nationalism, and as such it is high time we as a nation definitively reject it in all its forms. So, in forming your political identity, consider these things: Do you prefer an open world to a closed one? Do you prefer freedom over authoritarianism? Do you believe policy should be constructed to benefit all of humanity rather than one special interest group? If your answer to these questions is yes, then you are a globalist.