While watching the State of the Union speech last night, I couldn’t help but momentarily wallow in the American pride triggered by the eloquent rhetoric of Trump’s speechwriters’ concluding remarks. As a mostly white, middle-class, male, I must say America’s been pretty damn good to me and I love this country. While in Europe I recall exclaiming with pride that I hailed from the USA. I cherish America’s history, beauty, culture, values, and so much more about it. However, am I a “nationalist?” This is a complicated question given the numerous denotations and connotations of the term.
I reside in the United States so I obviously desire its success for practical reasons. I root for American athletes in the Olympics because it is more enjoyable to pretend to have some kind of ‘stake in the game’. I most closely identify with other Americans likely due to a shared language, set of experiences, and culture. However, my support of the country is certainly conditional. I will not support a decision America makes if it conflicts with my personal values, which stem from a variety of sources. I do not desire the failure of any other nation. There are additional aspects of my identity that define me far more than my identity as an American. So I suppose in some ways, I’m a nationalist and in other ways I’m not.
I do believe; however, that I’m fundamentally opposed to certain aspects of nationalism. I’d hope my loyalty is to humanity and the world as a whole over America as a legal and political entity. This is certainly a topic that requires additional contemplation.