In two articles I published this week I shared my reaction to the tweet in which Ann Coulter epitomized her morbidly rapturous reaction to the policy statement on immigration reform Donald Trump recently released. (“I don’t care if @realDonaldTrump wants to perform abortion in White House after this immigration policy paper.”) Trump’s policy statement is a “promise them anything” compilation of proposals drawn from the wish list of steps I and other secure our borders/enforce the laws/end the benefits advocates have proposed for many years. It is Trump’s latest effort to convince people that they should trust his tough rhetoric on the subject, despite his lifelong commitment to people and views that contradict his words.
But it never occurred to me that either Donald Trump and/or the elitist faction sham his candidacy serves, has ever suffered from any unwillingness to tell people what they want to hear. The GOP quislings have been crafting the party’s platform on that basis for almost three decades. But during all those years they have also been subverting or openly betraying the goals and promises they make at election time. So why should anyone with more sense than a potted plant credit those promises?
We are being tempted to trust Trump’s promises by a campaign of hype portraying him as an “outsider,” boldly thumbing his nose at the so-called GOP establishment. But Trump’s “outsider” persona is a transparent fabrication, glittering iron pyrite trailed before conservatives who have exhausted themselves pointlessly prospecting for Reaganite gold in the GOP. Tragically, their best prospects lie all around them, in the rich soil of faithful grass-roots patriotism, which they themselves comprise. Donald Trump is an elitist faction manure spreader, albeit loaded with false promises with which to salt that good soil, so as render it, henceforth, barren for the cultivation of rightful liberty.
The problem with Trump and the quisling GOP … has to do with the tenor of Trump’s entire life as an unprincipled materialist, doing whatever it takes, giving money to whomever he has to, to serve his selfish interests, with no thought for the common good of our nation, and no commitment to it. The problem is his utter failure to speak to the moral purpose, not just of our immigration policy, but of our very existence as a nation. (“Does Donald Trump’s demagogic pandering turn the U.S. against itself?”)
The success of the American republic has, from the beginning, depended on preserving the understanding that makes establishing justice an essential aspect of the identity of our nation, inseparable from its the self-preservation. For most nations, a visceral attachment to the land, language or heritage of the people who inhabit them is sufficient to provide a sense of their common good. But from the moment they asserted their existence as a people, Americans have identified themselves in terms that transcend such belongings, terms that evoke a common sense of right and justice that belongs to all humanity.
This means that our common good is ultimately defined in terms of the common nature of all human beings, as it comes from the hand of God. Our very existence and identity as a nation is therefore a belonging we hold, as it were, in trust, on behalf of the whole of humanity, whose vocation from God we are supposed to represent. As American citizens we are, therefore, the trustees of the purpose that gave rise to that vocation, which is to reflect the benevolent will that proposed and pervades the whole of creation. When Lincoln said that the people of the United States would “… nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth” his words were more than a rhetorical flourish. They evoked the moral cause, rooted in the will of the Creator that justified the risk and sacrifice of life and goods made during the Civil War, and indeed in all the wars America has justly fought to preserve our existence as a nation.
As Americans, the way we hold onto and secure the land we live in has to reflect this trusteeship, this sense that we exist to serve the better prospects of mankind, not just our own; that as Americans, we strive to prove that ruthless ambition, fearsome violence and exploitative oppression are not essential hallmarks of humanity; that as Americans we act to refute the devilish lie that these common evils are the only things human beings have in common (res publica.)
Our republic exists for the sake of the just constitution of humanity that leads good parents everywhere to submit to be the servants; that leads decent people everywhere to decry the murder of the innocent; and that empowers the good conscience of people everywhere who imagine themselves in the place of those who are afflicted by disaster and famine, or the spiritual poverty of intractable, vengeful war, and respond to their plight accordingly.
True Americans responded when Reagan spoke of us as “a city on a hill” because we know that we are a nation of nations called to be an example of the good intentions decent humanity shares on account of God’s intention for humanity. We responded because we know that the “New World” we inhabit is not so called just because it was once a wilderness, but because it was a promise not yet fulfilled, a hope intended but not fully embraced, for all the nations of the earth.
It was this knowledge that led America’s founders to define our nation’s identity in a way open to all people of goodwill and dutiful commitment. It was this knowledge that led successive generations of Americans to work, even against their own prejudices, to keep open the gates of our nation’s heart, its borders and its laws, in ways intended to admit the presence of human beings everywhere whose commitment to right corresponds to our own.
If, in material terms, we built a nation that fulfilled for a time so many of mankind’s material dreams, it was because, all along, we have invited people to come to our New World, bringing with them their best hopes. But like the master of the biblical wedding feast, we also demanded that they live by the God-endowed commitment to justice and the self-disciplined exercise of right. For that fulfilled commitment is the saving grace of rightful human liberty. So we are not supposed to welcome the enslavers and beheaders of innocent humanity, or any others who despoil that grace, whatever their motive or excuse.
On that account, secure borders and the lawful regulation of movement and immigration across them are not selfish aims we pursue only to serve ourselves. They are part of the ethic of liberty we must demand of ourselves and of any who sincerely wish to add their light to the beacon lamp of righteous liberty. To represent their last, best hope, we must preserve it, as a people, in the land we hold, in sovereign trust, by the authority of its Creator. For we are bound, by our vocation as a nation, to lift up that “lamp beside the golden door,” on behalf of decent human beings, both within the bounds of our constitutional sovereignty and wherever people strive, as we do, to reach the God-intended destiny of decent human life.
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