Donald Trump is a man rumored to value loyalty above all else. As we have seen, this “loyalty” tends to be starkly one-directional: while he demands complete loyalty from his subordinates, he does not hesitate to throw loyalists under the bus, if politically expedient.
Now, Trump is seeking to cultivate his brand of loyalty on a much larger scale. As reported by Fox News, “President Donald Trump on Friday proclaimed May 1 as ‘Loyalty Day’ as a way to ‘recognize and reaffirm our allegiance to the principles’ upon which America was built and express pride in those ideals, according to a release of the proclamation from the White House.”
“The United States stands as the world’s leader in upholding the ideals of freedom, equality, and justice. Together, and with these fundamental concepts enshrined in our Constitution, our Nation perseveres in the face of those who would seek to harm it.”
From a different leader in a different time, this move could be viewed as innocuous. However, given Trump’s nationalist impulses, and the continuing specter of white nationalism permeating the White House, this move is eerily reminiscent of efforts of nationalist regimes in times past. His proclamation of Loyalty Day, together with his escalating threats of military action, his demonization of immigrants, and his attacks on the free press, bear worrisome similarities to the actions of hyper-nationalistic strongmen of the 20th century. When public displays of loyalty are demanded by government, one must question the underlying purpose: is it to benefit the country, or the politicians who run it?