'America First': Why Has Nativism Resurfaced in the New World? Donald J. Trump and Nativist Politics in the USA

Yoeri Maertens
In tegenstelling tot Trump de nationalist of Trump de populist, argumenteert deze scriptie dat Trump het best omschreven kan worden als een nativist - iemand die opkomt voor de 'inheemse bevolking' en immigranten en andere outsiders als 'tweederangsburgers' beschouwt. Op die manier is Trump onlosmakelijk verbonden met Amerika's langdurige identiteitsproblematiek.

‘America First’: Donald Trump de nationalist – of niet?

In de nasleep van Donald Trumps onverwachte overwinning waren de pogingen tot verklaring legio. De hoofdvraag was en is nog steeds hoe Donald Trumps politiek best kan worden omschreven. Is hij, zoals velen hebben beargumenteerd, een nationalist die het belang van het land vooropzet, of kan Trump beter omschreven worden als een nativist – iemand die hoofdzakelijk opkomt voor de inheemse bevolking en immigranten en andere ‘outsiders’ als tweederangsburgers beschouwt?

Op 8 november 2016 verbaasde Trump vriend en vijand door Hillary Clinton te vloeren en zo de 45ste President van de Verenigde Staten te worden. Velen – de auteur incluis – vroegen zich af hoe dit had kunnen gebeuren, aangezien Trump tijdens de kiescampagne erin was geslaagd om bijna alle minderheden in de Amerikaanse samenleving voor het hoofd te stoten: Mexicanen waren criminelen, verkrachters en bad hombres, vrouwen kon je zomaar bij de poes nemen en Moslims konden het best de toegang tot de VS ontzegd worden. Hoe kon Trumps steile opmars verklaard worden? Misschien kon een zoektocht doorheen de Amerikaanse geschiedenis een tipje van de sluier lichten. In tegenstelling tot de gangbare verklaringen van Trump de nationalist of Trump de populist, ligt een meer fundamentele verklaring in Trumps nativisme.

Nativisme in de VS

Nativisme – een politiek gestoeld op de superioriteit van de inheemse bevolking ten aanzien van immigranten en andere zogenaamde ‘tweederangsburgers’ – is even oud als de Verenigde Staten zelf. Doorheen de Amerikaanse geschiedenis heeft deze ideologie regelmatig de kop opgestoken. Denkt men maar aan de Know Nothings in de aanloop naar de Burgeroorlog, de Ku Klux Klan in de jaren 1920 of de meer recente Tea Party.

Wat al deze bewegingen gemeenschappelijk hebben, is hun opdeling van de Amerikaanse samenleving in een groep ‘echte’ Amerikanen enerzijds en een groep outsiders anderzijds. Terwijl de outsiders regelmatig van gezicht veranderden, is de ‘echte’ Amerikaan grotendeels dezelfde gebleven: een blanke, in Amerika geboren Christen.

Als men Trumps retoriek beschouwt, merkt men al snel dat ook hij hetzelfde discours onderschrijft. Om Amerika terug groots te maken en de echte Amerikaan zijn vergane glorie terug te schenken, wil Trump immigranten buiten houden. Schoolvoorbeelden in dit opzicht zijn de moslimban, die de immigratie van een aantal hoofdzakelijk moslimlanden aan banden legt en de Mexicaanse muur, die ervoor moet zorgen dat minder Mexicanen illegaal de grens oversteken.

Dan rest natuurlijk de vraag waarom deze ideologie net nu terug de kop opsteekt?

Waarom nu?

Zoals iedereen weet, is de hedendaagse maatschappij doordrongen van globalisering. Ten gevolge van deze steeds toenemende globale verbondenheid ondergaat de Amerikaanse samenleving enkele zeer drastische veranderingen.

Eerst en vooral is er de aardverschuiving op het vlak van demografie. Terwijl Amerika 20 jaar geleden nog voor driekwart blank was, voorspellen steeds meer studies dat binnen 30 à 40 jaar blanken zelf een minderheid zullen vormen. Dit leidt nu al tot paniekreacties bij een groot deel van de blanke bevolking, aangezien ze tot nu toe de krijtlijnen van de Amerikaanse maatschappij hebben uitgezet. In de nabije toekomst zullen ze, net als alle andere bevolkingsgroepen, tot een minderheid behoren.

Een tweede reden is veeleer economisch van aard. Enkele decennia geleden verdeelden de blanke arbeiders- en middenklasse de hoofdmoot van de jobs onder elkaar. Nu moeten ze zich echter reppen om hun jobs en status te behouden. Ten gevolge van de steeds toenemende scholingsgraad hebben andere groepen zich opgewerkt in de samenleving, waardoor de blanke arbeidersklasse beetje bij beetje weggeconcurreerd wordt. Terwijl veel groepen hun status hebben zien verbeteren, voelen veel blanke arbeiders zich achtergelaten door de globalisering.

Bovendien opteren meer en meer bedrijven ervoor om hun jobs te verschepen naar landen met een lagere loonkost. Op die manier heeft de blanke arbeiders- en middenklasse veel van haar jobs verloren zien gaan. Zelfs de jobs die in de VS blijven, worden alsmaar vaker overgenomen door robots en computers. Terwijl vorige industriële revoluties erin slaagden om het aantal jobs te vergroten, vormt deze zogenaamde cognitieve industriële revolutie een existentiële bedreiging voor de mens, aangezien het ons overbodig maakt.

Alsof deze aardverschuivingen nog niet genoeg waren, is polarisatie verworden tot een van de kernwoorden van de hedendaagse Amerikaanse samenleving: Democraat of Republikein, The New York Times of Fox News, liberaal of conservatief; het zijn maar enkele van de vele breuklijnen in Amerika vandaag de dag. Velen veronderstelden dat de verkiezing van Barack Obama paal en perk kon stellen aan deze uitdijende kloof. Helaas, Obama werkte als een lap op een stier en de polarisering nam enkel verder toe. Volgens sommigen is Amerika nu zelfs meer verdeeld dan in de aanloop naar de Burgeroorlog 150 jaar geleden – het bloedigste conflict in de Amerikaanse geschiedenis met meer dan 600 000 doden.

Waarom Trump?

Met zijn boodschap om de vergane glorie van de VS te doen heropleven en het land uit het slop te halen, slaagde Donald Trump erin om de zogenaamde left behinds aan te spreken. Voor het eerst in lange tijd werden hun bezwaren bespreekbaar en kregen ze terug een stem. Door middel van zijn anti-establishment discours beschuldigde Trump de politieke elite ervan zich meer te bekommeren om de verscheidene minderheden dan om de blanke arbeiders- en middenklasse. Ook andere groepen die niet thuishoorden in de VS, zoals immigranten, werden te veel gepamperd. Fundamenteel was Trumps campagne dus gestoeld op de identiteitsproblematiek. Om de blanke arbeiders- en middenklasse te herstellen in hun oude glorie, moesten outsiders zoveel mogelijk buitengehouden worden. Met dit discours slaagde Trump erin om net genoeg stemmen van de blanke arbeiders- en middenklasse te verzamelen om Hillary Clinton af te houden in de race naar het Witte Huis.

Dus, in tegenstelling tot het meest gangbare discours over Trump de nationalist of Trump de populist, kan Trump het best gezien worden als een nativist, strijdend voor het belang van de ‘echte’ Amerikaan. Op die manier kan zijn campagneslogan ‘America First’ beter gelezen worden als ‘White America First’. Trump bleek de juiste persoon op de juiste plaats op het juiste moment.

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Universiteit of Hogeschool
Master of Arts in American Studies
Publicatiejaar
2017
Promotor
Prof. dr. Ken Kennard
Kernwoorden