The New York governor is in the news for saying on Wednesday that America “was never that great.” He went on to explain that the U.S. “will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged” — while complaining that Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan was “retrospective” and intended to return the country to darker times past. As political gifts to the Trump 2020 campaign go, it’s hard to think of one so perfectly wrapped.
For the young people I teach and the older people I meet off campus, this is political poison. Most folks are still very much steeped in the rhetoric of the nation-state, and “our nation isn’t the greatest” is anathema to them. Every nation exists because it believes itself to be not only the best but also eternal. That’s the price of admission to the nation-state game. The only game, I must repeat, that brings welfare protections with it.
Obviously, nobody but the eggheads on this blog and equally obscure places can verbalize what’s happening here, but people still feel a great sense of unease when they see somebody like Cuomo toss away the necessary myths of the nation-state. The Cuomos and the Cynthia Nixons of this world will be perfectly fine without the nation-state, so they can’t see what the fuss is about. But while they vie for the title of the most eager promoter of fluid capitalism, we are losing the only political party that could potentially have some interest in protecting us from it.