President Obama has always had a problem with American exceptionalism, the belief that the U.S. has a unique role to play in the world along with its own national ideology.
Back in 2009, he told the Financial Times of Britain: “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” Weak tea indeed. In other words we all root for our home team.
The late political scientist Seymour Martin Lipset defined American exceptionalism as a unique blend of libertarianism, egalitarianism, individualism, republicanism, populism, and laissez-faire. As Paul Mirengoff of the Powerline blog notes, “other than egalitarianism, President Obama seems to have a quarrel with each component of the blend.”
Indeed, we can see Obama’s true colors in his decision to grant legal paper to up to 5 million foreigners living in the U.S. illegally; i.e., those who were either brought to America as children (DREAMers) or are the parents of citizens or legal residents.
This week, Obama told the Vox website in an interview: “As we saw with the executive action that I took for DREAMers, people who have come here as young children and are American by any other name except for their legal papers
[emphasis added]. I think the American people overwhelmingly recognize that to pretend like we are going to ship them off is unrealistic and not who we are. “
I am all for a compassionate approach to border issues. I support a strong work visa program and expanded legal immigration. But the president’s notion that someone is an American just if they have “legal papers” is jarring.
As Jim Geraghty of National Review notes: “If being an American is simply a state of mind, and where a person was born or whether a person entered the country legally are mere trivialities, there really isn’t such a thing as citizenship anymore.”
That wasn’t the thinking behind our immigration policies in the past. We welcomed people here. But immigrant communities supported assimilation at the same time they favored keeping ties with the old country.
New immigrants were expected to learn the civic “religion” of the country and its underpinnings. The tests we now give in English and in civics to potential citizens are a joke. By deciding to give out legal papers to people — many of whom are conscious violators of the rule of law — threatens to turn that joke in a farce.
John Fund is an expert on American politics where politics and economics and legal issues meet. He previously served as a columnist and editorial board member for The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of several books, including "Who's Counting: Bow Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote At Risk," "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy,” and "The Dangers of Regulation Through Litigation." He worked as a research analyst for the California Legislature in Sacramento before beginning his journalism career as a reporter for the syndicated columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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