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ANDY SMARICK on A Nationalism of Community. He argues in his review: nationalism in America is messy and paradoxical—and needs a new emphasis.
So, like other nations, our nationalism is partially rooted in stories about ourselves and in externally minded factors (like territorial integrity and national economic interest). But our nationalism, unlike that of most other nations, is also rooted in a collection of processes related to public life. That is, American nationalism includes a commitment to the very systems that enable vastly different people to debate, dissent, negotiate, exercise freedom, and protect particularism so we are able not just to coexist but also to collaborate for the common good.
One result of this unusual type of nationalism, is that conservatism and nationalism in the United States have a very different relationship than in much of the rest of the world. Conservatism elsewhere is often associated with the preservation of centralized state power—maintaining the state religion, the authority of the monarchy, state-owned industries—or the singular identity of the population. In America, somewhat paradoxically, conservatives generally aim to strengthen the nation by decentralizing power. American conservatives understand the necessity of preserving the authority of states, counties, towns, community-based organizations, and local businesses.
BLM signs have come down, and tough conversions now are about what racial equity looks like. For instance, is getting rid of the SAT the best solution? Plus, The Washington Post's Perry Bacon and guest host Tim Miller get personal on the struggle to find a diverse school for their kids.
Happy Wednesday. I’m sure you’re excited for this year to end, as I am. May all your troubles soon be gone.
On the Jukebox… Coldplay’s ‘Christmas Lights.’
Super Late Christmas gift ideas… Because of COVID, you might not see your loved ones until 2022, or maybe you’re an Orthodox Christian and won’t celebrate until then anyway. One game always popular in my house is ZENN, a game invented by my high school math teacher. My family has been subjected to it for years, but this year, my in-laws all got addicted. As a treat, I bought each of them ZENN. It’s been made in the USA for nearly 50 years, and here’s a little bit more about its inventor, Vincent Benander, a brilliant guy and a character to boot. This concludes the Jim Swift Gift Guide™ for 2021.
Home for the holidays… The last of my family left today, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you to Matt Labash’s classic essay about visiting family.
RIP John Madden. Of all commentators, I cannot stand Cris Collinsworth, but I love, love me some John Madden. And the life he lived was truly extraordinary.
RIP Senator Reid. I was not a fan of Harry Reid’s politics. That’s probably because I worked for a member of the Senate GOP’s leadership team. So, yeah, biased. But Harry Reid as a person? Irascible. Sometimes cruel. But, also periodically thoughtful. And, a policy guy. I’ve spent the last day reading tributes to him on social media from people who worked with or for him, and here’s a worthwhile story.
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