Populist nationalism in the age of Trump


  • Damani Johnson
  • Chelsee Autry Western Washington University




This paper builds upon the arguments advanced by Johnson and Frombgen in “Race and the Emergence of Populist Nationalism in the United States” (2009). Johnson and Frombgen made three central arguments: that the US is two nations, not one; that racial attitudes are central to each national identity, and that social movements of a populist character have critically shaped each national identity. They then offered a typology of left and right national identities, each of which had been shaped by populist social movements. This paper seeks to revisit the two nations thesis in the era of Donald Trump on the right and Bernie Sanders on the left. Following Johnson and Frombgen, it employs the Gramscian theory of hegemony to analyse both populisms, the overarching nationalisms associated with them, and the place of race within each national identity. It goes on to examine the tensions within both traditional and progressive nationalism between the mainstream and populist hegemonic projects regarding the American nation. Thus, a typology revising Johnson and Frombgen’s is also offered.


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