Jefferson was characterized as using Federal means to achieve Republican ends. Donald Trump may be similarly described as using nationalist or populist means to achieve conservative ends. This is limited to his tax cuts and court picks. Trump’s trade policies and use of central control is much more progressive than conservative. Trump is without an ideology, and occasionally stumbles on a few conservative goals.
Kevin Williamson at National Review writes The First Nationalist:
It is significant that my National Review colleague Conrad Black has in these pages and elsewhere made original and eloquent defenses of two American presidents: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Donald J. Trump. Black’s biography Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom is one of the finest things ever written about Roosevelt, who emerges in Black’s telling not as a lefty antecedent to Bernie Sanders but as a thoroughgoing nationalist, one committed to that “principle of federal activism” that Professor Beer wrote about, whose purpose was to bend the fractious political, regional, and economic blocs to a unified national purpose: recovering from the Depression, first, and then beating back savagery abroad.
Goldberg’s argument in Liberal Fascism was scorned by progressives (many of whom obviously had not actually read the book) who took his connection of progressivism to fascism as serving a merely pejorative purpose rather than a substantive one. But as Professor Beer wrote a generation ago, the question of federal activism is central to our politics, and nationalism is the spiritual energy of such activism. President Trump understands the federal government not as a guarantor of liberty but as an activist champion for American business interests, and nationalist hocus-pocus is deployed to prevent such inconvenient questions as why the interests of Americans who sell steel should trump the interests of Americans who buy steel, or why we should encourage automobile manufacturing rather than software engineering, commercial space exploration, or medical research.
The words “permit it” speak to the divide between traditional conservatives on the classical-liberal model and the (New) New Nationalists on the Roosevelt-Obama-Trump model. This permission mentality touches every aspect of nationalist economic thinking, which is how such meaningless bookkeeping exercises as the calculation of trade deficits and income inequality come to be understood as pressing national concerns. Putting markets under economic discipline is where progressivism, socialism, fascism, and nationalism all intersect, each of those ideas being based on the superstition that the nation has interests distinct from those of the people who compose the nation.