It is often said that with the election of Donald Trump nativism was raised from the dead. After all, here was a president who organized his campaign around a rhetoric of unvarnished racism and xenophobia. Among his first acts on taking office was to issue an executive order blocking Muslim immigrants from entering the United States. But although his actions may often seem unprecedented, they are not as unusual as many people believe. This story doesn’t begin with Trump. For decades, Republicans and Democrats alike have employed xenophobic ideas and policies, declaring time and again that “illegal immigration” is a threat to the nation’s security, wellbeing, and future.
The profound forces of all-American nativism have, in fact, been pushing politics so far to the right over the last forty years that, for many people, Trump began to look reasonable. As Daniel Denvir
argues, issues as diverse as austerity economics, free trade, mass incarceration, the drug war, the contours of the post 9/11 security state, and, yes, Donald Trump and the Alt-Right movement are united by the ideology of nativism, which binds together assorted anxieties and concerns into a ruthless political project.
All-American Nativism: How the Bipartisan War on Immigrants Explains Politics as We Know It
(Verso, 2020) provides a powerful and impressively researched account of the long but often forgotten history that gave us Donald Trump. Join us to hear Daniel Denvir lay out the grim history and current state of US immigration politics and policy.
Stephen Pimpare is Senior Lecturer in the Politics & Society Program and Faculty Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. He is the author of
The New Victorians (New Press, 2004),
A People’s History of Poverty in America (New Press, 2008), winner of the Michael Harrington Award, and
Ghettos, Tramps and Welfare Queens: Down and Out on the Silver Screen (Oxford, 2017).