America is exceptional, as Tocqueville observed. There are many reasons for this, but among them is the fact that we are a nation of immigrants.
On the other hand, human nature is universal. And eventually, European trends often do tend to influence us. So how special are we…really?
This question has taken on new significance as we contemplate the possibility that America’s Republican Party might be starting to look less like the party of Lincoln—and more like a European-style nationalist party.
Some observers are already starting to suspect that the rise of Donald Trump and Ben Carson suggests we’re headed in the direction where protectionism and nationalism define the GOP.
This is from Michael Brenden Dougherty at The Week:
Until recently, Labour voters in the U.K. never thought they’d be wiped out of Scotland. And then they didn’t believe Jeremy Corbyn could become their leader. Many French thought the momentum of the National Front and Marine Le Pen would have been exhausted by now. In both countries, major parties had bid hard for the middle, leaving core constituent concerns unaddressed, and giving ground (moral and political) to far-off challenges. Can it happen here?
… Maybe immigration and economic insecurity for the working class are going to do to the Republicans what these issues have been doing to major parties in Europe.
Dougherty’s not the first to make this observation. This summer, Ben Domenech warned that “What Trump represents is the potential for a significant shift in the Republican Party toward white identity politics for the American right, and toward a coalition more in keeping with the European right than with the American.”
My forthcoming book Too Dumb to Fail argues this is the exact wrong direction for Republicans to go. And it’s not a foregone conclusion. A Republican Party whose leaders are Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan would be dramatically different from a Republican Party that nominates Donald Trump (who recently advocated a “deportation force“).
Indeed, the GOP is at a crossroads. The 2016 election has the potential to dramatically redefine the GOP for a generation of voters. Do Republicans want to be an optimistic and inclusive movement—or a European-style Right wing party?
It’s a time for choosing.