The whole point of America is that we are not a tribe. We are a universal nation, founded on universal principles, attracting talented people from across the globe, active across the world on behalf of all people who seek democracy and dignity”?
.. America was in fact a tribal enterprise.
.. Brooks would have us believe that the United States began as a pristine crusader state on behalf of global democracy and internationalism, a “universal nation” devoted to “diverse hopefulness” as opposed to “fear-driven homogeneity.” No, the people who ventured onto these shores and then pushed westward inexorably were highly conscious not only of their religious provenance but also of their cultural and ethnic heritage. They brutally pushed aside the aboriginal peoples, declined to mix with them, and created societies that mirrored those of the Old Country, even naming their towns and cities after those inhabited by their overseas ancestors.
.. No one expressed more forcefully than Theodore Roosevelt this sentiment that newcomers must assimilate into prevailing American culture, for that culture had no intention of adjusting to the newcomers. “We freely extend the hand of welcome and good fellowship to every man,” wrote Roosevelt, “no matter what his creed and birthplace, who comes here honestly intent on becoming a good United States citizen like the rest of us; but we have a right, and it is our duty, to demand that he shall indeed become so, and shall not confuse the issues with which we are struggling by introducing among us Old-World quarrels and prejudices.”
.. Brooks is not wrong when he says that much of the Trump constituency is driven by tribal impulses. But he is wrong to say that these sensibilities are un-American and the result of bigotry. Tribalism is a part of the American story
.. Today, the main enemy is not aliens; it’s division—between rich and poor, white and black, educated and less educated, right and left.
.. Trumpist populists want to widen the divisions and rearrange the fences. They want to turn us into an old, settled and fearful nation.
.. The divisions Brooks laments with such invidious intent won’t vanish until the fears and concerns of Trump voters are addressed in ways that can alleviate, at least to some extent, those grievances.