How Samuel Huntington Predicted Our Political Moment by JASON WILLICK
In 2004, the eminent political scientist offered key insights into the nationalist-cosmopolitan divide at the heart of our society.
Samuel Huntington, the professor of government at Harvard University (and member of The American Interest editorial board from its founding until his death in 2008) was a titan of 20th-century social science. Several of his books, including Political Order in Changing Societies, The Third Wave, and The Clash ofCivilizations,are classic works that will shape political thought for generations.
Huntington’s final book, however, has been denied a place in that pantheon. Who Are We?—a wide-ranging treatise that argued, among other things, that American elites were dangerously out of touch with the American public when it came to issues of patriotism, foreign policy, and national identity—was panned by most mainstream reviewers in 2004 as an ideological and careless screed that flirted with xenophobia. At 77, the eminent scholar was accused in respectable circles of losing his marbles.
But as the Republican Party prepares to hand its nomination to Donald Trump—a self-described “America First” nationalist, running on a platform of immigration restriction, trade wars, and Jacksonian foreign policy—Huntington’s thesis is looking more prescient than ever before—not as a prescription, but as a way of describing the divisions running through the heart of American society.