The erosion of citizenship

Today many condemn the idea of nationalism by connecting it to race hatred (e.g., white nationalism). But historically, the modern nation-state has proven uniquely suitable to preserving individual rights.

The American nation in particular was successful in uniting individuals of different races, ethnic backgrounds, and creeds into one people based on shared principles, a unique physical space, and a common national story.

Our nation is the best example in human history of positive nationalism.

The key to this benign nationalism is American citizenship, based on an understanding of American exceptionalism and formed by the American melting pot. But today, our citizenship is eroding and, along with it, American nationalism in the positive sense is disappearing.

American citizenship is eroding in three ways.

First, we are blurring the line between mere residents and citizens. We have between 45-50 million non-native-born residents in the United States today — the largest absolute number we’ve ever had.

There’s no legal problem with the 30 million of them who have green cards or have acquired citizenship — although even 30 million is a challenge for the American melting pot to assimilate and integrate.

But we also have, according to a recent Yale and MIT study, about 20 million people who are here illegally. In regard to them, the classical ingredients of American citizenship — the right to leave or enter the country as one pleases, for example, or to vote in elections, or to reside here as long as one pleases — are being blurred.

Where I live, in California, if you’re here illegally, you can de facto go back and forth across the border as you wish. In San Francisco, you can vote in some school board elections (the same is under consideration in some places in New England). And as we see with the DACA program, illegal residents can de facto live in the U.S. indefinitely.

We are becoming a country of tribes.

Some policies even discriminate against citizens. An illegal resident in California who is charged with a crime is not subject to federal immigration law to the full extent, whereas a citizen who flies into Los Angeles from overseas without a passport will be detained.

If you are in California as an illegal resident, you can obtain a driver’s license as citizens have in the past; whereas for citizens, starting next year, there will be an extra burden: to travel by commercial air, they will have to provide at least three sources of proof of citizenship to obtain a valid ID — given the apparent devaluation of the driver’s license.

People who come to the U.S. illegally and in great numbers usually do not have the degree of investment citizens do in our constitutional documents and are often unacquainted with our national story. Candidates from south of the border today fly into California’s Central Valley to campaign. Illegal residents vote in their home countries’ elections — and yet are unacquainted with political issues and candidates here in the U.S.

To avoid a fragmentation of society based on racial and ethnic chauvinism takes an extra effort to keep the melting pot working. We’re no longer making that effort. Indeed, we’re doing the opposite, encouraging diversity rather than unity.

Second, we’re becoming a country of tribes. The idea of multi-racialism — the notion that we’re of different races but we share a common culture — is eroding.

To avoid a fragmentation of society takes an extra effort. We are no longer making that effort. We are doing the opposite.

At many colleges and universities today, you can choose in advance the racial background of your roommate. Campuses have “safe spaces” that are reserved for people of particular races. There are dorms where students segregate according to race. Ethnic studies departments thrive by emphasizing racial exceptionalism.

Do we wonder why Elizabeth Warren chose to be a Native American, which, according to her own logic — the power of white privilege and systemic racism — would put her at a disadvantage? The answer is that she sought a careerist advantage. And Harvard was happy to comply. The law school bragged that she was its first “woman of color” faculty member.

I went to a grammar school that was about 90 percent Mexican-American. Some people who I went to first grade with later changed their names from Juan to John and dropped the accent on their last names. Now in their 60s, they’re changing back to Juan and adding back the accents.

Why? Because there is now a disadvantage in identifying as an un-hyphenated American, and an advantage to belonging to a tribe. And the danger is that this logic of tribalism leads to the kind of social breakup and civil discord that we saw in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and Iraq.

Third, the middle class, which had been encouraged and celebrated since the time of the American Founding, is now under sustained attack.

Tribalism leads to the kind of social breakup and civil discord that we saw in Rwanda, Yugaslavia and Iraq.

A solid, property-owning middle class anchors the nation. Traditionally, its members show the sobriety and judgment to achieve autonomy. They don’t look to government for help. They stand as a barrier against both property redistribution and crony capitalism.

Today, America’s middle class is threatened. Homeownership is down to about 62 percent from 71 percent just over ten years ago. The percentage of a family budget that goes to housing has risen from 20-30 percent in the 1950s to 30-40 percent today, especially in coastal corridors.

Middle class wages, until an annual increase of three percent under President Trump, had been frozen for ten years. And we have an aggregate $1.6 trillion in student debt.

If the middle class continues to erode, we will become a nation of peasants and oligarchs. In California, more than one out of five people live below the poverty line — despite the fact that California has one of the highest number of zip codes of America’s most affluent people and the highest number of billionaires.

If you drive through Palo Alto, you’ll see people living in RVs because they can’t afford to buy or rent a home — and these are people working for Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Oracle, and Apple, with a total market capitalization of nearly $4 trillion.

Additionally, we are seeing a formal assault on the Constitution by our elites.

Almost every single Democratic candidate for president was in favor of abolishing the Electoral College, which is in the Constitution to ensure equal representation to people living outside big cities, and to prevent the splintering of the electorate into several small parties.

Consider the nullification of federal law through the creation of sanctuary cities, in direct defiance of the immigration statutes. (Of course, such nullification seems to go only one way. Otherwise, imagine how our elites would respond if the people of Provo, Utah, decided within their municipal jurisdiction to nullify federal handgun registration or the Endangered Species Act.)

We are seeing a formal assault on the Constitution by our elites.

There is also a growing academic attack on the mode of electing the U.S. Senate — “Why should North Dakota or Wyoming have the same number of U.S. senators as New York?” progressives ask, in their eagerness to make U.S. senators proportionally elected in the manner of House members.

This insidious assault on the Constitution results from the fact that popular elections haven’t been going the Left’s way, and the Left believes that its superior moral agenda justifies using any means necessary.

Ancient authors from Plato and Aristotle to Petronius and Tacitus have suggested that affluence combined with leisure paradoxically creates a laxity that leads to the kind of societal and institutional disintegration we are currently seeing.

Another major ingredient of our current crisis is the failure of our education system to offer disinterested instruction, following from the post-1960s takeover by the Left of our colleges and universities.

The assault on the Constitution results from the fact that elections haven’t been going the Left’s way.

In response, we need to support colleges that continue to teach the principles and practices of liberty. We must support policies that recognize the distinction between citizens and non-citizens and that bolster the middle class. And we need to defend the Constitution, our last great hope to ensure American continuity and security.

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(The author of the above is Victor Davis Hanson. He is the Wayne and Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History at Hillsdale College. This piece was taken from Imprimis, which is published by Hillsdale, a superlative institution of higher learning. Subscribing to Imprimis is free. I highly recommend it.)

A two-nation man

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2005: Typing citizenship application on my 1923 Royal.

THE MOVEMENT of time fascinates me — calendars, watches, wall clocks, birthdays, anniversaries. You name it, I’m on it.

What is it today? My Mexican citizenship, 15 years now. I applied in January 2005*, and the papers were delivered in December of that same year.

Within a month, I had a Mexican passport. Citizenship does not come with a passport. You do that separately. Or not. I remain an American citizen, of course, and I renewed my U.S. passport two years ago at the consulate in San Miguel de Allende, a useless act. I don’t need it anymore, and not renewing it would not affect my U.S. citizenship. It was a waste of time and money. I have no intention of crossing the border again.

It was a knee-jerk action on my part.

Becoming a Mexican citizen was easy. I filled out a form that was similar to the form to renew my visa. I paid a fee (about $100 U.S. if memory serves), and I waited. That was it. The process is more complicated now, I’m told. A language test, a Mexican history and culture test, some other hurdles, none of which did I have to do.

I did speak briefly to the clerk in Spanish. Perhaps that was a language test, but there was no written requirement of anything. Piece of cake.

On just two occasions in the past 15 years have I had to salute the Mexican flag, and I’ll tell you the truth. It feels odd. Nationality is in your genes. Putting on a coat of another color, especially late in life, is strange. But I am very glad Mexico took me in, especially now that the United States is imploding.

Trump is only slowing that down. He cannot stop it.

Many Gringos move down here, stay for years, and never become citizens. They just renew temporary visas interminably or get a permanent resident visa, which is almost like being a citizen, but you cannot vote.

I vote in elections on both sides of the Rio Bravo.

I like being a two-nation man.

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* Coincidentally, it was also January 2005 when I started the blog.

Two to tango

WE MEXICANS are really incensed. We have been disrespected, as they say in the ‘hood. Oh, the effrontery!

The pinche (look it up) Gringo President Trump wants to build a wall along the border. What a slap in our faces.

And how undeserving!

We’re mad as hell, and we’re going to stop shopping at Sears, Costco and Walmart. Of course, that would only put the Mexican employees out of work, but it’s a price worth paying, shooting ourselves in the foot.

Those of you above the border cannot imagine how insulted we Mexicans are at this wall idea. Insulted, I tell you!

Here’s a post we might have titled Border Wall for Dummies. It  is the entire nasty matter in a nutshell.

First, both nations are equally — well, almost — at fault. For decades now, both Democrat and Republican administrations have ignored or even tacitly encouraged the immigrant invasion over the southern border.

Second, millions of Mexicans have been sneaking into the United States, tunneling below ground, climbing over fences, flying in with tourist visas and overstaying, backpacking across the arid deserts, you name it.

Some have been my relatives.

And all are in the United States illegally, millions, building neighborhoods, packing “sanctuary cities,” creating Little Mexicos all over the place.

Finding enchiladas has never been so simple.

It finally reached a boiling point for U.S. citizens, and that’s what put Trump into the Oval Office.

Americans are divided almost equally into two camps. On the left are the people who croon Kumbaya, reject national borders entirely and sincerely believe that all peoples, with a tiny bit of effort, can live in eternal peace.

In spite of there being absolutely no historical evidence to support this conviction. Quite the contrary.

It is the addled Flower Power mindset of the 1960s that has filtered down through the generations, and still thrives among a healthy percentage of the population.

These Kumbaya crooners, ironically, are the ones rioting in the streets and punching Republicans in the name of love.

On the Great Divide’s other side are people who believe in borders, who know that a nation is a tribe with a common culture, language, religion, race, something that merits and requires protection.

Reams of historical evidence support this fact.

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TWO TO TANGO

Here in Mexico, we have a couple of notorious Gringo enclaves, particularly San Miguel de Allende and Ajijic, Jalisco.

new-imageMexico’s government puts the number of Americans living in Mexico at around 700,000.*

It’s very probable the overwhelming majority are here with visas or — like me — have become citizens, although that’s not very common.

Most are spread out quietly all over the nation, and most mind their own business. Mexican law forbids them from political activity, and marching in the streets waving U.S. flags and demanding “rights” would be outrageous.

You know, like illegals do in the United States.

It would lead to deportation.

Mexicans mostly ignore San Miguel and think it’s a cute place to visit. However, if there were hundreds of San Miguels instead of one, it would be very different.

And it would require hundreds of San Miguels and Ajijics across Mexico to be comparable to what now exists in the United States, to create an equivalency.

If there were hundreds of San Miguels full of Gringos here illegally, refusing to learn Spanish, opening little businesses selling grits, ham and red-eye gravy, there would be a national outcry. We would be apoplectic!

We would go postal!

Then the shoe would be on the other foot, and Mexicans might understand President Trump’s historic trip to the White House with a tad more clarity.

No nation really wants to be multicultural. Just up to a point, it’s interesting. After that, it gets nasty.

(No nation on earth apart from the white populations of North America and Western Europe embraces multiculturalism. Just those lands where hippies reigned in the 1960s. The Soviets shielded Eastern Europe from Flower Power.)

Mexico, in cahoots with the Democrat and Republican political establishments, brought us Trump.

It takes two to tango.

* * * *

* You’ll often read that one million Americans live in Mexico. This is a myth that has existed since before I moved south 17 years ago. I find the official 700,000 number a little difficult to believe, but perhaps it includes part-timers. And perhaps I misread, and it includes all foreigners, not just Gringos.

(Note: I saw on Twitter this morning that our President Peña Nieto has announced a new program to support and facilitate continuing education for young Mexicans who return from the United States. More positive effects from Trump.

(Furthermore, about 60 percent of Mexico’s exports currently go to the United States. Mexico recently announced it will begin widening its trade with other nations. This diversification is a positive thing, bought to us by Trump. )

Election day

voteI WENT TO the voting place on the neighborhood plaza Sunday morning and cast my Mexican votes. It’s really fun to be able to vote in two countries, something I’ve been eligible to do for a decade now.

There won’t be another presidential election for three years, but we got to choose a mayor, a governor and some representatives. I voted the straight PAN party ticket with one exception, our mayor.

I vote PAN due to its officially being the conservative party. I left the plantation, however, in the mayoral vote and went with the PRI, the party of dinosaurs that ruled Mexico for seven decades till 2000.

I did that detour because an old-timer here, a Mexican guy who’s worked in various city administrations for years and who’s a friend of a relative, gave me this advice: They all take advantage, but some do so less than others while doing some positive things at the same time.

In other words, just like in the United States.

He spoke kindly of candidates of both the PRI and the left-wing PRD. I chose the PRI, of course. No left-wingers for this boy.

Here’s how it works. The polling place is just up the street on the neighborhood plaza. You go in, show your official, government-issued, voter identification card with color photo to a fellow with a big book where all the registered voters are listed alongside another mugshot.

This system is a no-brainer even though you find collectivists above the Rio Bravo who don’t think proving your citizenship or even your true name is just and fair because it discriminates against po’ folks who don’t have a car or enough to eat or something like that.

After your identity is verified, you are handed ballots like those in the photo above, which I took while hunched inside the voting booth. There is a pencil in the booth, and you make a big X over the candidates of your choice. You then fold the ballots, leave the booth, and drop them into cardboard boxes. Then your thumb gets inked.

There are no hanging Chads or dangling Josés.

Representatives of the major parties are present at all or most polling places to keep an eye on one other. At the end of the day, the boxes are opened and counted, and the results sent to a central station where totals from all polling places in the area are counted for a larger total.

And so on and so on across the nation.

When each polling place closes and its votes are counted, the results are taped to a wall outside for all in the neighborhood to see. It’s a good and wise system that works very well.

GRINGO POLL CAPTAIN?

Each polling station has a boss who oversees the process for the entire day. Three years ago, I was asked to be that person. Aside from not wanting to sit there all day, I thought that having a Gringo captain of a Mexican polling station was a lousy idea, so I declined.

It would be unseemly. They still remember that we stole Texas, plus diversity and multiculturalism are not embraced in Mexico.

I know my place.

THAT VOTER ID

Yes, you must have a voter identification card in Mexico. It also serves as a national ID card. In the United States, the Democratic Party opposes such atrocious impositions. Here is a fun take on that:

card* * * *

The Moon has a new look, again. I change now and then because it’s free, easy and fast. I’ve been doing it so often lately — a couple times a year — that I don’t even make an issue of it anymore. I always think the last change will be it, but like a shapely lady in a closet full of clothes, I waffle.

I like this look, but I always like the new looks. It’s clean. The column down the right side has vanished, the one with the quotes and other stuff. I have erased all but two of the quotes, and most of the other items and links are there when you click on Menu at the top right.

* * * *

UPDATE: Both my candidates for mayor and governor lost, it appears. Another fun report on this situation can be found at Better than bacon.