Trump voters are creating a “herrenvolk” political culture where white conservatism has a symbolic anchor in “simple” and “authentic” patriotic gestures like the Flag, the Pledge, and the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Like conservatives everywhere, Trump voters have a hunger for tradition as a guarantee of their moral rightness, but conservative political traditions and historical figures have come under such intense attack in the post-Civil Rights era that conservatives have had to either give up on or de-emphasize Columbus, the Pilgrims, the Puritans, the Old South, the Confederacy, pioneers, McCarthyism, and other badges of conservative honor. Unable to identify with liberal political movements and figures, conservatives have more or less retreated to George Washington as the sole guarantor of the conservative version of national honor.
But that’s not enough and conservatives have been working overtime to shape Donald Trump into the kind of mythic figure who functions on such a monumental scale that he can substitute for almost 250 years of the honored historical traditions to which conservatives are so poorly connected.
They are also creating a set of cultural rituals in which displaying flags, re-enacting the Pledge of Allegiance, and singing songs like “the Star-Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful” that identify them as “simple,” “authentic,” “patriotic,” and thus superior in virtue to the liberal coastal elites and Black Lives Matter, Critical Race Theory, LGBT, and feminist activists who condescend towards them as “bigots.” Real “patriots” practice and revere such rituals while all the enemies of conservatives ignore, disdain, or rebel against them.
Thus revealing themselves to be “enemies of the people” just as much as the mainstream media.
At the rally for Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate last night, the Pledge and Flag ritual was made extra special by the American flag flown at the Jan. 6 Insurrection. But herrenvolk conservatism need not be limited to political rallies. As is the case with Trump reverence, all segments of the religious right, gun culture, and the conspiracy world can rally around herrenvolk patriotism and feel a sense of identity in opposition to the rest of the country.