Americans have to stop treating European populism like the identical twin of their caricature of American populists. European nationalist movements represent a diverse consortium.
Step 3: Get American conservatives to engage in a dialogue with European conservatives. There is a core of American conservatives and Central/Southern Europeans who share a common appreciation of the challenges we face.
European conservatives want to protect the foundations of national freedoms, yet still promote the notion of a peaceful, prosperous European community. Their internal debates reflect the real tensions in European thought.
There is a pull and tug in the United States as well—preserving our national identity, zealously guarding our sovereignty and recognizing that, in our self-interest, the United States must act in a community of friendly and allied nations to protect our freedoms.
American and European conservatives will never amount a common political movement. Yet they are sufficiently like-minded enough to recognize the value of supporting each other, the value of honest dialogue to understand one another, and the importance of working in trust and confidence. They can build a common dialogue and be an important bridge in the transatlantic discussion.
In particular, the transatlantic conservative conversation has to center on what binds the transatlantic community together and what marks the West as a distinctive civilization worth protecting. This could be just the beginning. A healthy discussion among transatlantic conservatives could grow into a broader dialogue that gives peoples something common to talk about rather than just something to get riled up about.
A Heritage Foundation vice president, James Jay Carafano directs the think tank’s research on issues of national security and foreign relations.