When, to our appalled horror, the TV news announced that Barack Obama had won re-election, we immediately knew a great many of the bad things in store for America over the next four years. Our "Things to Come" series almost wrote itself.
There are the occasional silver linings, however, such as the really remarkable new openness and honesty by leftists about their true goals. When was the last time we had even Democrat politicians dare to say, yes, they really do want to confiscate your guns, as New York Gov. Cuomo did? It's clarifying to read progressives openly arguing, as we discussed last month, that the Constitution needs to be scrapped and that you have no right to keep your own property if there's someone else out there whose food or medical care needs paying for.
Today's startling new revelation from the Left? That U.S. citizenship has nothing to do with what's good for U.S. citizens. No, it's all about helping everybody else in the world.
Robert Reich, a former Clinton official and current professor at UCal Berkely (naturally), addressed America's ongoing debate over illegal immigration on his blog:
On one side are those who think of citizenship as a matter of exclusion and privilege — of protecting the nation by keeping out those who are undesirable, and putting strict limits on who is allowed to exercise the full rights of citizenship.
On the other are those who think of citizenship inclusively — as an ongoing process of helping people become full participants in America. [emphasis added]
These issues... are pieces of the same larger debate: Are we more fearful of “them” out there, or more confident about “us”? Is our goal to constrain and limit citizenship, or to enlarge and fulfill its promise?
It’s an old debate in America. The greatness of our nation lies in our overriding tendency to choose the latter.
American schoolkids have been taught for years that America grew by accepting anybody who wanted to come here. "Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."
Except, that's a lie! Yes, America accepted the poor, but it didn't accept just anybody. It didn't accept criminals, the sick, or the disabled, who were likely to become a burden on the nation. It didn't accept Communists, revolutionaries, or anarchists.
In 1913, Popular Science magazine ran an article on Ellis Island:
The law divides physically and mentally defective aliens into three classes. Class A includes those whose exclusion is mandatory under the law because of a specified defect or disease. In this class are idiots, imbeciles, epileptics, the feebleminded, insane and those subject to tuberculosis, or a dangerous or loathsome contagious disease.
When a medical diagnosis has been made of these conditions, that person is automatically excluded. In Class B are conditions which are not mentioned in Class A, but which make the person affected liable to become a public charge or affect his ability to earn a living. Class C includes defective and diseased conditions not included under A or B but which must nevertheless be certified for the information of the immigration officials.
The article goes on to discuss various sorts of immigrants and how they helped or harmed the United States. Some came to build the country; others only to send money home and return themselves someday. Some brought diseases that the U.S. Public Health Service doctors had to detect and exclude. Many of the problems discussed are every bit as relevant today, a full century later.
What has changed since then is the perspective and purpose. Popular Science of 1913 argued about the wisdom of various immigration policies, but there was never any doubt as to the rightness of the goal: the benefit of the United States.
Robert Reich's view could hardly be more different. His desire has nothing to do with what's good for America, but how we can help the people of other countries not lucky enough to be Americans by birth.
This sounds like a mighty noble sentiment. Hasn't America always been suffused with missionary zeal? Our Founders envisions this land as "a shining city on a hill," a beacon to all mankind if not a worthy goal and destination.
The trouble is, there are limits to all things. Back in 1913 there were large sections of America with very few residents where uneducated immigrants could go to make a productive new life. Not so much today.
In 1913, Henry Ford was just getting started, and the vast majority of work involved manual labor which could usefully be done by uneducated illiterates. Not so much today.
In 1913, if an individual wasn't able to support himself, he might be able to get voluntary help from a charity or church, but if not - well, the government wasn't considered responsible to give cash handouts to the poor. Today, it seems like the Obama administration thinks that's the only goal of government, never mind the oppressive expense to the poor citizens who have to pay the taxes!
It is not the job of America or our American government to take care of everybody in the world, or to provide everybody in the world the opportunity to come here and make a life at our expense. It is the job of the American government to, quite simply, do what's good for Americans.
Dr. Reich and his fellow lefties are now openly arguing against that. They vehemently maintain that our government should intentionally not do what's good for Americans, not put Americans first, not be the least bit choosy about what foreigners should be granted the great gift of American citizenship. They want America to be the welfare nation for the world. The scummier the immigrants, the better they'll fit into the Democratic party!
This devaluing of American citizenship works the other way too. Not only do Democrats want to treat everyone like American citizens, they want to treat American citizens like everyone else - i.e. summarily executing them if their President feels like it.
In a rare and inspiring display of old-fashioned filibustering, Sen. Rand Paul seized the processes of the Senate and the attention of the media by expounding for 13 straight hours on his horror at Obama's contention that he can kill anyone he pleases.
Earlier this week, the noisome Attorney General Eric Holder, being unusually honest, admitted to a Senate committee that, in his opinion, the President "has authority to use drone strikes to kill Americans on US soil." Now, in a sense he's right: Abe Lincoln killed (mostly Southern) Americans on American soil, and George Washington was willing to when he marched to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. And police shoot down armed criminals every day, not nearly as often as we'd prefer actually.
But these are very specific situations of active, imminent, armed violence. If Mohammed is standing in a cafe wearing a suicide vest with his finger on the button, we're all in favor of him being shot down by whatever means is most appropriate, even if he happens to technically be an American citizen.
If Mohammed is sitting at a table in the cafe drinking a cappuccino, though, it doesn't matter if his black heart is contemplating how to murder his fellow citizens. That's reason for him to be arrested, interrogated, tried, convicted, even (as we've argued) for his citizenship to be stripped by a court of law. It is not legitimate for him to be gunned down without warning.
We may be in a Global War on Terror, and the fight may take place all over the world, but it doesn't mean that every place in the world is equally a battlefield. America has unwisely granted massive powers of confiscation to our police forces with the idea that they'd be used against evil drug dealers, only to discover that those powers can be used just as well against ordinary citizens who've done nothing wrong. It's bad enough that police can summarily confiscate your belongings on "suspicion" of a drug crime; do we really want them to be able to blow you to flinders without warning on "suspicion" of involvement in terrorism?
To his credit, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden supported Sen. Paul's concern, as did a handful of Republicans; any Senator that didn't has no right to call themselves an American. Yes, to their eternal shame, that includes war heroes like John McCain. Even some on the left have noticed, with noted liberal John Cusack plaintively asking where his supposed progressive heroes are.
Where are they? In the tank with Barack Obama, destroying the very concept of American citizenship, the better to destroy the rights that go along with it. We've always thought they felt this way, and it's a relief to see them finally come right out and say it - and now America is starting to notice.