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.)

The news in March

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IT’S BEEN BEAUTIFUL of late, and my child bride and her sister think winter is over. Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. March is a dicey month. I took the above photo from the upstairs terraza about six or eight years ago. That’s snow on yon mountains … in March.

It did not snow that week at the Hacienda, but it was darn frigid. When the dry, warm days of April arrive, then you can declare winter’s demise, not before.

Just for the heck of it, here’s another photo taken from the upstairs terraza. It was shot in June of last year. Those are the same mountains, of course. Sweet.

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We’ve been a bit busy since we returned from Guanajuato, and we were busy before going to Guanajuato too. We’ve had a circular stairway installed from the balcony to the roof of our Downtown Casita. And now I’m waiting for our painter to finish work he’s doing for someone else in order to paint the Casita’s exterior.

And we have new cell phones, both of us, as of last week, and we bought the same model. Motorola G8 Plus, it’s called, and it’s a big improvement over her previous Samsung and my old Alcatel. There are people who still shun cell phones, which mystifies me. It’s like an electronic Swiss Army knife.

I use mine for reminders, checking my bank balance, using “virtual” credit cards so as not to get ripped off, and I’m a YouTube addict, so there’s that. Right on my Motorola. And there’s a calculator, a call blocker, the app of our car insurance which lets one immediately report an accident while the app pinpoints the car’s location.

How can you live without this stuff? Sometimes I even make calls on my phone. Messages are more common, mostly to my child bride. Speaking of calls, I recently canceled my Skype subscription after many years. It’s pricey, and I almost never used it, mostly to phone my investment company in the United States.

I discovered a better option for me. I have no interest in video calls, but I do need a U.S. number. There are several online phone services that work fine (PopTox, LetsBrik) but they don’t provide a U.S. phone number like Skype can.

It’s a sweet little app called Dingtone. You get a U.S. number, call waiting, message box, all the usual services, and it’s free to cheap. But no video calls. Meh.

I’m writing this at midday on Super Tuesday, so I don’t know the results yet. Bernie gonna win again? Are the Democrat candidates still screaming at one another? Will the Democrat National Committee steal the nomination once more from the crusty, old communist? Will the little-girl-groper Joe Biden be the nominee? Such fun!

As least Pocahontas is flaming out, silly broad. And Mayor Pete has bit the dust. I don’t think America is ready for a gay president with a First Man spouse. More to the point, I don’t think powerful, non-woke nations like China and Russia are ready for it, to put it mildly.

Too soon, way too soon.

Barbra Streisand says the United States could be “extinguished if Trump wins again. Extinguished! You just gotta howl at this stuff. Here we are, nearing the end of Trump’s first — but not last — four years, and the Republic still stands, hearty and healthy.

There are no troops goose-stepping in D.C., no midnight knocks at the door, no blacks hanging from trees. None of those Democrat predictions came true.

Quite the contrary. Things are far better than during the Obama administration. At least America doesn’t have a First Lady who is a cross-dresser.

And that’s enough news in March for now.

Hope it’s a lovely day wherever you are.

Vote Democrat fer sure

I MAY HAVE posted this last year. I’m not sure, and I’m too lazy to check.

No matter. It’s almost precisely a year more till the next presidential election, so it’s a good time to encourage you to vote Democrat and get that nasty Trump out of office.

This young blonde does a spectacular job of telling us why a Democrat vote is the only reasonable option. Down with Trump, the most appalling president in U.S. history!

So un-presidential, gruff and rude.

Vote Pocahontas or Bernie or Beto or whomever. Please!

The horrid president

GOOD LORD! Just hear the endless racism, misogyny, jingoism, bigotry and religious intolerance that spews from this orange-coifed guy’s mouth! It just turns my tummy.

And that wife! Can she even speak English?

And the dreadful things he’s done in his first six months! Here’s a list, but brace yourself. Awful, awful, awful.

The election of 2020 can’t come too soon. We’ll be able to install the Pocahontas princess in the Oval Office, and everything will be peachy again, just like with Obama.

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(Note: I’m posting the list as a public service because I doubt you’ll see it on Huffpost. I cannot imagine why.)