- American Nationalism: Divided
- American Creed as the Basis for Nationalism
- Hillary Clinton’s Interpretation of American Nationalism
- Donald Trump’s View of the Democracy
- Ban on Immigrants from Muslim Countries
- Building a Wall on the Border with Mexico
- Trump’s Promise to Make NATO Allies Pay More
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Democracy has always been at the core of American identity, the very foundation upon which the country was built. Democratic principles have led the United States throughout its history, serving as a benchmark along the country’s historical path, ensuring prosperity and shaping the image of the U.S. for the rest of the world. However, no socio-political doctrine remains in its original form, naturally developing and evolving over the course of time; American democracy is no exception. Nowadays, there are numerous challenges of various kinds, some of which pose a significant threat to American democracy. The purpose of this essay is to analyze Mr. Trump’s foreign policy and its influence on American democracy. It also aims to investigate Mr. Trump’s electoral promises about U.S. foreign policy, which are perceived by a vast number of people as being destructive to American democratic principles: the ban on Muslims, building a wall along the border with Mexico, and charging allied countries to pay more for protection.
American Nationalism: Divided
Before assessing individual electoral promises, it is essential to overview the notion of American nationalism in the context of debates between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump. The comparison of their interpretations is necessary because it reveals the core elements of their political beliefs and, later, it will help to understand more profoundly the controversy, which surrounds Mr. Trump’s statements on foreign policy. First of all, it is important to discuss the historical development of the concept of American nationalism.
American Creed as the Basis for Nationalism
What is called U. S. nationalism nowadays is widely based on the idea of the “American creed.” This term was first coined by G. K. Chesterton, an English Catholic thinker, and later became to be broadly used by numerous American scholars (Lieven, 2016). The notion represented the idea of every American citizen having a common political creed, despite the differences in race, origin, class, etc. It is also important to mention that the word “creed” has a significant religious connotation, which implies that “American creed” is not only a political idea but it also possesses quasi-religious qualities.
The elements, which are essential for American nationalism, are “faith in liberty, constitutionalism, the law, democracy, individualism, and cultural and political egalitarianism” (Lieven, 2016, p. 9). These constituent parts remain the essence of the U. S. national idea, from the early 19th century, down to this day. However, as it was already mentioned, every doctrine evolves through time, as well as within one period but between different people. Therefore, it is important to discuss the differences between the interpretations of American nationalism by Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump.
Hillary Clinton’s Interpretation of American Nationalism
Touching first upon Mrs. Clinton’s interpretation, it is important to note that she incorporated more libertarian values in her doctrine. In general, racial tolerance and the idea of equality were perceived as full-fledged parts of the American nationalism in recent decades. In particular, Hillary Clinton and her supporters have put significant stress on the rights of women and the LGBT community (Lieven, 2016). Secondly, Mrs. Clinton aimed to use American nationalism as a force, which would help numerous immigrants to integrate into U. S. society. She claimed that American prosperity was built upon newcomers from various parts of the world, and thus it is essential to continue the implementation of such an immigration policy. Thirdly, one of the cornerstones of Mrs. Clinton’s political doctrines can be summed up by the term “Wilsonianism” (Lieven, 2016, p. 10). This notion refers to the idea of using the power of the United States to spread American democratic values throughout the world. According to “Wilsonianism,” the expansion of American domination is the core point of U. S. foreign policy.
Donald Trump’s View of the Democracy
Following on from the analysis of Mrs. Clinton’s views of American democracy, it is now essential to discuss Mr. Trump’s interpretation. It is possible to observe the electoral promises made by Donald Trump, which obviously represent his views on the development of the United States. First of all, one of his critical pledges was to ban all Muslims from crossing the borders of America. Compared to Mrs. Clinton’s view of this subject matter, it is possible to observe that Mr. Trump does not perceive the integration of newcomers into American society as a means of establishing or supporting democratic values.
Secondly, his most controversial electoral promise was to build a wall along the border with Mexico and to make the Mexican government pay for the construction. This could also be seen as evidence of reluctance to incorporate migrants into U. S. society; neither does it coincide with the idea of spreading the American democracy. Finally, his statements about modernizing NATO and forcing allies to pay more for protection do not imply a policy of expansion of American domination. The following sections will discuss each of these listed promises and their consequences in detail.
Ban on Immigrants from Muslim Countries
First of all, the problem of immigration should be elaborated in the context of Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton’s opposing viewpoints. This question represents the complexity of cultural, social, and political issues, which correlate reciprocally. Isolationism could be considered as one of the core characteristics of the president’s foreign policy (Payne, 2017). Nevertheless, as it was mentioned previously, Mrs. Clinton sees the American nationalism as the force of integrating the people from different countries and cultures into the U. S. society (Lieven, 2016). Mr. Trump, whose electoral promises could be considered as populism, seemingly tends to set the idea of political isolation as the foundation of American foreign policy (Aydın-Düzgit & Keyman, 2017). However, Mr. Trump must be omitting the fact that America was built upon the contribution of newcomers, and thus it is essential to continue the implementation of welcoming immigration policy (Lieven, 2016).
Also, it is essential to mention another fact, which contributes significantly to the perception of Mr. Trump’s promise of “Muslim ban” as hurting the American democracy (Payne, 2017). According to the report by Ortman, Velkoff, and Hogan (2014), the population of the United States is aging and declining. As the authors state, “the aging of the population will have wide-ranging implications for the country”, including challenges for social policy makers, businesses, and healthcare providers (Ortman et al., 2014, p. 25). Also, as it is stated by Lee and Mason (2014), low fertility and low birth rates among American women “adversely affect public finances and standards of living” (p. 229). Therefore, it is evident that the inflow of immigrants would significantly help in filling up the gap, which is created by the aging population. However, Mr. Trump’s electoral promise appears to be lacking of understanding the long-term effects of reducing the inflow of immigrants. Moreover, it is possible to observe that such absence of further projections is damaging the American democracy.
Building a Wall on the Border with Mexico
Further, it is essential to discuss the most controversial electoral promise made by Donald Trump, which is to build a wall on the border with Mexico and to force the Mexican government to pay for its construction. The purpose of this action, which Mr. Trump pursues, is to decrease the incoming flow of migrants. According to the president, the creation of the wall should represent the national greatness of the United States (Payne, 2017). Therefore, it is evident that, in his perception, the core idea of American nationalism is isolation and the prevention of other countries’ populations from being a part of U. S. society. Additionally, the cost of the wall, which is estimated to be around $20 billion, is also a significant threat to American democracy since it is assumed that the implementation of Mr. Trump’s idea will have to be supported by the money of American taxpayers.
Furthermore, it is possible to notice that this electoral promise, being the most controversial among many others, was so unpopular because of its contradiction with the core principle of American nationalism. As it was mentioned by Mrs. Clinton, the United States has always been led through its history by the idea of the expansion of American values (Lieven, 2016). It must be acknowledged that American expansionism, promoted by Mrs. Clinton, did not always bring positive results: the actions taken under the Bush administration, for example (Lieven, 2016). However, Donald Trump’s “defensive chauvinism” imposes even more serious questions to American national values (Lieven, 2016). It is evident that the promise under discussion, which is significantly related to the previous issue, poses a threat to American democratic values.
Trump’s Promise to Make NATO Allies Pay More
Further, it is of great importance to observe another Mr. Trump’s promise concerning foreign policy, namely the commitment to make NATO allies pay more for U.S. protection. It should be stated that this pledge is damaging the American democracy since the president tends to put the United States into political isolation (Ikenberry, 2017). This aspect of Mr. Trump’s policy could also be argued from the standpoint of his electoral opponent. As it was previously mentioned, Mrs. Clinton is the proponent of Wilsonianism, an approach with the primary goal of extension of American values’ influence across the world (Lieven, 2016). On the contrary, Mr. Trump, implementing a robust isolationism policy, refuses to expand the impact of American democracy in the countries where such political doctrine is needed. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that the promise under discussion hurts the American democratic values in a significant way.
Following this analysis, it is essential to come to some conclusions. To sum up the discussions made in this paper, one could argue that Donald Trump’s electoral pledges represent a significant threat to American democracy. First of all, in comparison with his electoral opponent, Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump provides a significantly more chauvinistic interpretation of American nationalism. It is possible to observe that his political discourse rarely revolves around the notions of liberty. Indeed, his rhetoric is primarily concerned with restrictions. Further, several electoral promises were discussed in their relation to core American values.
However, it is also essential to observe that liberal internationalism remains a possible option, despite Mr. Trump’s decisions against supporting this doctrine (Chaudoin, Milner, & Tingley, 2017). Also, as various studies show, in democratic countries, people can influence foreign policy, irrespective of the views of the decision-makers who enter office (Tomz, Weeks, & Yarhi-Milo, 2017). Therefore, it is possible that American democratic values can retrieve its prevalent position in the United States’ foreign policy again.
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Lieven, A. (2016). Clinton and Trump: Two faces of American nationalism. Survival, 58(5), 7-22.
United States Census Bureau, Economics and Statistics Administration, US Department of Commerce Ortman. (2014). An aging nation: The older population in the United States. Suitland, Maryland: J. M., Velkoff, V. A., & Hogan, H.
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