The incoherence at the heart of Trumpist nationalism

Trump has inadvertently revived anxieties that animated the debate over the Constitution

President Trump.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Zach Gibson/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images, SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images, Joe Raedle/Getty Images, David McNew/Getty Images, LongQuat)

With the president of the United States launching flagrantly racist attacks on the congressional representative and residents of a major American city, it's worth pausing to assess precisely where we are and how we got here.

We don't lack for explanations. Some argue that Donald Trump is just the most extreme in a long line of increasingly right-wing Republicans. Others claim that he's just the latest in a long line of racists in American public life. Still others take a broader view and assert that he's the American expression of the global surge of anti-liberal populism. There's some truth to each of these accounts. But there's another that might be even more illuminating, rooted all the way back in the arguments of those who opposed the adoption of the U.S. Constitution more than 230 years ago.

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