If populism wasn't already the political buzzword of the 21st-century before the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom (UK) and the rise of Trump in the United States (U.S.), it surely is now. Media stories about populism have been proliferating at an exponential rate, as have populism "experts". Everything is populism and everyone is a populism expert.
The coalescence of the Republican leadership around Donald Trump may be happening slightly quicker than expected, but it was entirely predictable. Turns out that for many Republicans #NeverTrump actually meant, "on balance we would prefer somebody like Marco Rubio, but we will support pretty much anybody who is not a Clinton or an Obama."
The problem in the never-ending presidential campaign is that words matter, and candidate Donald Trump has had an impact on Republicans, and sometimes even the Obama administration, when it comes to refugees and migrants. The nativist repetition about the evils of Islamic foreigners and Hispanic migrants resonates.
The story we tell ourselves is that the American identity is rooted not in place, but in the acceptance of a common set of ideals, irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity. The politics of the last decade, however, have strained the notion of e pluribus unum, revealing among whites three definitions of the American nation that are exclusive rather than inclusive.
Trump's call for a wall to protect U.S. borders from marauding Mexican criminals not only demonizes Latinos, but evokes toxic themes of Manifest Destiny that were used to justify American expansionism into Mexico. Themes that allowed white folk -- the U.S.' original "anchor babies" -- to be legitimized as citizens.