by Matthew Goose
Few issues so clearly separate those who care about America from those who do not like immigration.
In recent days, Democrats have advised illegal immigrants to defy the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service, suggested decriminalizing illegal entry, and even embraced free healthcare for illegal immigrants. Democrats applauded the Trump Administration’s decision to abandon the citizenship question on the 2020 census—calling it vindication for “democracy” —but denounced the ICE raids on illegal aliens with deportation orders.
While claiming fealty to the United States, the Democrats have all but proudly declared they are for open borders and against the rights and interests of American citizens. They have reached a consensus that American citizenship is a meaningless abstraction and an unearned privilege that effectively must be abolished—if not by law, then by ignoring the existence and unique rights of American citizens qua citizens.
Peel back the sentimental platitudes (does anyone really think families shouldn’t stay together?) and the Democrats’ take on immigration reveals a profound betrayal. They are more concerned with the welfare of illegal immigrants than with that of the citizens of the country they were elected to serve. By seeking to abolish American citizenship, Democrats are withdrawing from the most fundamental commitment of politics: to secure the good of the people.
Democrats have been blurring the line between citizens and non-citizens for a long time, but their opposition to the citizenship question put their true view in rather stark terms. Throughout the census battle, Democrats accused the White House of having political, “racist” motivations, as if citizenship is only distinguished from alien status in fascist regimes.
The citizenship question was political, of course, but only in the most rudimentary way. It was political in the sense that nations are political entities comprised of citizens. It was political in the sense that politics is about justice, and justice is about the common good.
It’s not surprising that a majority of Americans support the citizenship question. Americans know that discounting citizenship would be to their detriment. This is not “white supremacy,” it’s Plato and Aristotle. The Left is spurning Politics 101: the end of politics is the virtue and prosperity of citizens, a good which is impossible to pursue without first recognizing that there exists a citizenry for whom it is the purpose of politics to seek their good.
If counting citizenship is racist, then politics serves no purpose. The Left’s rejection of American citizenship, therefore, is a retreat from any obligation to care for America, its people, and its future.
Take a second to consider what a perverse, profoundly awful idea this is: people have no right to know who lives in their nation. By the same token, since there is no citizenry, the nation has no duty to care for its people. The logical consequence of abolishing citizenship is that America is an abstraction, not a real place, that its citizens are owed nothing, least of all the protection of their government.
Who might benefit from the abolition of citizenship? Certainly not the majority of citizens. Democrats say that counting citizenship is a political ploy by the Right, but nothing could be further from the truth. The Democrats are the ones throwing their countrymen under the bus for political power.
The Left insists that the real purpose of counting citizenship on the census is to intimidate immigrants, resulting in a skewed count in liberal, urban areas, the same ones where Democrats just so happen to concentrate. But what is this, if not a candid admission that Democrats no longer care to hide that they attract illegal immigrants for political reasons? The assumption is that illegal immigrants are here, and they’re here to stay, and that’s final.
This is all about power for the Democrats. But their cynical power grab intersects with the interests of America’s ruling class, to the great detriment of Americans. America’s elites are in a hurry to drop the mess their failed leadership created. Instead of listening to Americans demanding an end to illegal immigration, they plan to immiserate them more.
Rejecting citizenship allows the ruling class to relinquish responsibility for the ruled. If citizens don’t count, then America’s leaders have no particular obligation to care for them. If there is no difference between a naturalized citizen and an immigrant who has the sheer luck to avoid a court order, then Americans are owed no protection, least of all from the ravages of mass migration itself.
This retreat only formalizes and legitimizes the decades of neglectful leadership that led to the election of Donald Trump. But rather than address the suffering of Americans on the decline in an age of runaway globalization, industrial decline, and open borders, Democrats want to accelerate these trends.
Democrats say that not enforcing immigration law makes “everyone safer,” but this is a brazen lie. Mass migration is great for Democrats seeking political capital, billionaires seeking cheap labor, and poor families from Central America seeking opportunity, but not for most Americans. The Left is not suggesting any practical limitations on immigration. This is no mystery: liberal elites know that illegal immigrants aren’t coming to their ZIP codes or competing for their jobs.
Then comes the inevitable objection: America is a land of plenty, with more than enough to take care of every American citizen and illegal migrant alike. But on a practical level, it is not possible to prioritize the competing interests of America’s declining middle class and an endless stream of poor laborers from around the world. As a matter of principle, it can hardly be in the national interest for Americans to be denied the distinction of national belonging.
Rejecting citizenship undermines national identity, cultural cohesion, and democracy at a core level. Americans are placed last, before a numberless multitude from around the world. Not all of the Left’s policy goals are, by definition, set up to work against American citizens—aspects of the left’s interventionist economics have grown more appealing to conservatives of Tucker Carlson’s variety—but their rejection of citizenship denies the existence of American citizens and their unique rights qua citizens.
To secure the good of American citizens, it is right and just that the law protect them from exploitation. To do that, the law is obligated to distinguish those who it exists to protect.
Remarkably, Democrats cheer the abolition of citizenship as an advance for “democracy,” but this is an absurd inversion of the truth: abolishing citizenship disenfranchises Americans in the most treacherous way.
Democrats are very good at making their own losing of power sound like a crime against humanity. Counting citizenship is “white supremacy.” Not abolishing the Electoral College is “voter suppression.” But here is a real attempt to quash democracy in the open.
Like the drive to abolish the Electoral College and the more theoretical question of eliminating the Senate, the leftist drive to do away with citizenship is motivated by a desire to drop already disenfranchised Americans, namely, “bigots” who still believe that America is a distinct nation. The liberal elite wants to suppress these Americans for good, to strip them of political representation so they are powerless to protest the brazen theft of their country.
Without citizenship, American democracy has no meaning. But the Left understands “democracy” to mean the tyranny of the mob, the revolutionary progress of an abstracted, universal humanity. If there is any principle other than power that drives the Left’s abolition of citizenship, it is a dogmatic loyalty to this universal humanity and its “human rights.”
Rallying behind a founding myth which brands America an evil and undeveloped place, the left saddles Americans with a generational debt to be paid by accepting limitless migrants who, it is imagined, will improve the nation and bring it closer to its true destiny as a “nation of immigrants.”
Immigrants are imagined to have a universal human right to entry that erases the rights and sovereignty of Americans. By this same token, Americans have an obligation to care for the citizens of other countries, but not their own. The suffering multitudes of the world are owed health care, a job, every right and accommodation, but downwardly mobile Americans suffering the consequences of having their nation stolen deserve nothing.
There are no nations or citizens, only an abstracted universal hodgepodge, mere “people” living within arbitrary borders. America is just a big shopping mall with a fire sale. There is nothing more to tie the nation together than shaggy abstractions, misty-eyed cliches about the Statue of Liberty and, more troubling, a compulsory hatred of America and its past. If this is all there is to unite the nation, then the country is lost. How could a country that resents its own history, that subordinates its citizens to claimants from half-way across the earth, that welcomes people who hate it and sends them to the halls of power, expect to last?
A Stunning Betrayal
The argument in favor of counting citizenship is simple and robust: every nation has an obligation to take care of its citizens. Counting citizenship is about securing the common good, about seeking justice for the people of the United States. Only the most cynical person would reject the political purpose of nations, or even the notion that nations exist. But that is what the Left is doing.
The Right opposes what follows from the Left’s sentimental platitudes about family unity: that the welfare of illegal immigrant families should trump the national interest.
Families belong together, and so do nations.
If Democrats really want to help America’s middle class, they can start by acknowledging that the American people are sovereign, that they have a right to enjoy the protection of their own government, and that they are owed a responsive government that listens when they speak. Americans voted to end illegal immigration, so why are Democrats enabling it?
The Left’s rejection of citizenship is a stunning betrayal whose long-term implications should trouble all Americans. Their position is not just absurd, it’s unjust. If they won’t support their own citizens, what are they doing in government?
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Matthew Boose is a staff writer and weekly columnist at the Conservative Institute. His writing has also appeared in the Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter @matt_boose.
Photo “Welcome Asylum Seekers and Refugees Poster” by Takver. CC BY-SA 2.0.