President Donald Trump on Monday evening proudly asserted that he is a “nationalist” — a designation some of his fiercest critics have previously wielded against him as an attack on what they deem nativist policy pursuits by his administration.
“You know, they have a word, it sort of became old-fashioned. It’s called a nationalist,” Trump said at a campaign event in Houston, where he rallied voters to support Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) in November’s midterm elections.
“And I say, ‘Really? We’re not supposed to use that word,’” Trump continued. “You know what I am? I’m a nationalist. OK? I’m a nationalist.”
As the crowd in the Houston Toyota Center roared with applause, the president continued: “Use that word. Use that word.”
Trump’s remarks followed a rebuke of “globalists” whom he accused of putting other nations’ interests ahead of those of the United States.
“Radical Democrats want to turn back the clock. Restore the rule of corrupt, power-hungry globalists,” Trump said. “You know what a globalist is, right?”
He explained: “A globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly not caring about our country so much. And, you know what? We can’t have that.”
The words “nationalist” and “globalist” — both loaded terms with sometimes sinister implications — have made their way into the popular political lexicon since Trump ascended to the White House.
The former can refer to the promotion of self-governance and one country’s interests. But it has also been associated with the “alt-right” movement, which is broadly supportive of the president’s agenda but has occasionally been accused of harboring white supremacist tendencies. And the latter label, which can imply a more economically connected world of multinational alliances, is sometimes employed by racist commentators on the internet in a conspiratorial sense as a euphemism for Jewish people.
In his frequent campaign trail stops for Republican congressional candidates ahead of the midterm elections, the president has repeatedly emphasized the national security risks posed by illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border, and warned of violent gangs and drug runners who he claims threaten American communities.
Earlier Monday, Trump took to Twitter to proclaim that a caravan of migrants en route to the southern U.S. border was a “National Emergency,” writing online that “Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in.”