Pandemic Nationalism

Even in the grip of virus-related panic, most liberals are demonstrating a remarkable ability to remain focused on what they regard as Job One: trashing Donald Trump. Nevertheless, in some quarters on the Left, one can perceive glimmerings of uneasiness. In addition to ordinary human concern over the fate of themselves, their friends and family, and mankind as a whole (a concern from which leftists, despite their neurotic fixation on Trump, are not immune), this uneasiness has two primary causes.

First, leftists are beginning to perceive the danger in Trump’s newfound status as what is, in effect, a wartime president.

Trump is leading America’s—and, to a point, the world’s—response to an unprecedented crisis. These are circumstances in which a chief executive can bolster his image greatly, unless he fumbles the opportunity in legendary fashion. Leftists and the “gentlemen of the press” are working diligently to create the impression that Trump is indeed floundering, but unfortunately for them, the relative success of the United States, versus the Euro-socialists, in containing and managing the pandemic, makes these smears less than credible.

There is compelling evidence that Trump is plowing right through the blizzard of misinformation and connecting with the American people in a positive and reassuring way. Once the “curve” really does get “flattened,” and infections and deaths begin to decline, it’s hard to imagine that President Trump would not be credited with helping to rescue the American people from a terrible threat.

Second, and less obvious in the heat of epidemiological battle, is the fact that the worldwide response to the crisis has not followed the pattern that leftists would prefer.

While global and supranational coordination of the virus response has been important, the most critical decisions about how to respond are occurring at the national, state/provincial, and even local levels. The Left has been laboring for decades to create a world that is seamlessly interconnected, that is borderless and multicultural, that is devoid of ethnic and nationalist prejudices, and that transcends as much as possible the concept of the nation-state and national sovereignty in favor of the construction of a new world order in which bureaucratic, corporate, and academic elites enact progressive change on a wide, regional basis, at a minimum (think: the European Union), and on a global scale, if at all possible (think: the United Nations).

The coronavirus pandemic has scrambled these assumptions and aspirations, to say the very least.

While leftists would like for Americans, and others, to think of themselves as members of a “global village,” in the current climate of high anxiety, things have moved quickly in the opposite direction. President Trump was criticized, from a globalist perspective, for his early decisions to cut off airline travel with China, and then with the European Union. Days later, the very Euro-socialists who had chided him were acceding to the implementation of identical policies in their own homelands.

Everywhere we look, countries are closing their borders, denying entry to foreigners, forbidding the exportation of critical medical supplies, nationalizing vital industries and infrastructure, and raising the proverbial drawbridge of global oneness. It would seem that, alarmed by the rapid, transnational spread of the virus, most people’s reaction, understandably, has been to focus first and foremost on “taking care of one’s own.” Even Germany, arguably the headquarters of internationalism, is rapidly reconstructing and securing its borders.

Not surprisingly, under these circumstances, some Europeans are beginning to ask if the E.U. and the U.N. are so powerless and useless in a moment of crisis, and if most people turn instead to their national leaders for guidance and protection, then what is the bloc’s future?

What is the point of pursuing internationalism even as an ideal, when interconnectedness itself exposes us to such serious risks?

After all, the pandemic would have been far easier to manage if cross-border trade and travel were not so pervasive—if people, all along, had stuck closer to home. These are perfectly reasonable and natural questions to ask right now. They are also questions that the Left has done its level best either to ignore or to suppress for decades.

As always, the Left has attempted to achieve its long-term ideological goal—the obliteration of nationalism and the creation of a globalist mass consciousness—in a gradual, insidious manner. In many ways, their project has been crowned with remarkable success, at least if the widespread opposition to border protection, to the enforcement of immigration laws, and to the pursuit of trade fairness and reciprocity is any indication.

The headwinds of the coronavirus pandemic threaten to derail the Left’s anti-nationalist program in a serious, and perhaps permanent, way. As Nigel Farage declared recently, in the Age of Corona, “We are all nationalists now.”

If he’s right, President Trump’s reelection prospects will start to look brighter—and the sneering know-it-alls who have shoved the E.U. and the U.N., and much else besides, down humanity’s collective throat for more than 60 years may finally be forced into a strategic retreat.

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About Nicholas L. Waddy

Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs at: www.waddyisright.com. He appears on the Newsmaker Show on WLEA 1480/106.9.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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