The Death of American Citizenship

Victor Davis Hanson gives his opinion on the death of American citizenship:

The American Founders institutionalized the best of a long Western tradition of representative government with the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. These contracts outlined the rare privileges and responsibilities of new American citizens.

Yet the concept of citizenship is being assaulted on the premodern side by the legal blending of mere residency with citizenship.

Estimates of the number of undocumented American residents range from 11 million to more than 20 million. The undocumented are becoming legally indistinguishable from citizens and enjoy exemption from federal immigration law in some 500 sanctuary jurisdictions. An illegal resident of California will pay substantially less tuition at a California public university than a U.S. citizen of another state.

Multiculturalism has reduced the idea of e pluribus unum to a regressive tribalism. Americans often seem to owe their first allegiance to those who look like they do. Citizens cannot even agree over once-hallowed and shared national holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July.

It is eerie how such current American retribalization resembles the collapse of Rome, as Goths, Huns, and Vandals all squabbled among one another for what was left of 1,200 years of Roman citizenship—eager to destroy what they could neither create nor emulate.

Citizenship has always been protected by the middle classes—on the idea that they are more independent and self-reliant than the poor, but can stand up to the influence and power of the elite.

Yet until recently, we had seen a decade of stagnant wages and entire regions ossified by outsourcing, offshoring, and unfair global trade. Historically, with the demise of the middle class so follows the end of constitutional government.

But citizenship also faces a quite different and even greater postmodern threat.

Many of our coastal elites see nothing much exceptional in America, past and present. They prefer the culture and values of the European Union without worrying that the EU’s progressive utopian promises have been wrecked by open borders, economically stultifying regulations, and unapologetic and anti-democratic efforts to curb free expression and local autonomy.

Read more: The Daily Signal

Image credit: Photo by Roseanne Freundt ©, used with permission.