Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Conservatives know that their real enemy is the Constitution

I argued in a past post that American conservatives' true enemy is actually the American Constitution. Conservatives have always wanted to turn America into a traditional nation, in which membership in the polity is defined by race, religion, and language - the kind of nation that France and Japan and Germany and Korea used to be (and to some extent still are). The Constitution prevents that by ensuring things like freedom of speech and religion, birthright citizenship, and majority rule. Therefore, if conservatives really want to create the blood-and-soil nation they dream of - I called it "Amurka" - they'd have to repeal the very document that they often profess loudly to defend.

Conservatives are starting to realize this. Some prominent leaders on the right have recently begun calling for the repeal of the birthright citizenship provision of the 14th Amendment. I recently discovered that repealing the 17th amendment (direct election of senators) has long been a cause celebre of the conservative grassroots; direct election of senators, of course, is a type of one-person-one-vote majority rule. And now I hear about conservatives pushing to repeal the 16th amendment, which allows for a national income tax (income tax, of course, allows the majority to vote to tax the minority).

So the right definitely knows that birthright citizenship and majority rule are the Constitution's ways of hamstringing their dreams. As for freedom of speech and religion, they haven't come out and said they think the First Amendment should be repealed (probably because it's the "first", and therefore holds special psychological power). Instead, they've concentrated on pushing alternative interpretations of the amendment that allow unification of church and state.

But the broad pattern is clear. Conservatives of various stripes are calling for repeal of multiple parts of the Constitution. Liberals, for the most part, are not (though some would undoubtedly like to repeal the 2nd amendment). Actions speak louder than words; it is clear that the Constitution is biasing American policy towards the liberal side, and conservatives are frustrated about it.

For all their sound and fury about wanting to defend the Constitution, America's blood-and-soil nationalists want precisely the opposite; an America whose identity is defined by a tribe, instead of by a 200-year-old piece of paper in a glass case in Washington, D.C.


  1. The birth-right citizenship was created for the slaves already in the US after the civil war. The way it is being used now is not the original intent and is basically a way to reap the benefits from a neighboring country by strolling over a river, and I'd feel the same way about canadians streaming over and having kiddos.

    Most naturalized immigrants HATE the anchor baby situation here. Completely unfair to them.

  2. Noah, as usual, I think your post is right on.

    As for "anchor babies," I think it's worth noting that having a US citizen child doesn't make the parents citizens. Except in very rare cases, people don't get to stay and "reap the benefits" of the US just by having kids here - they usually get removed anyway. And once that happens, it's very difficult for them to get back in, citizen child or not, for at least a decade. So it's true, they've committed the terrible sin of getting a better life for their children, but they haven't really gained more rights or benefits for themselves (again, in most cases).

    As far as the child getting to be a citizen just because he or she was born here - true, that kid didn't have to work as hard as someone who was naturalized. But neither do kids born of parents with legal status. So I find it hard to accept the idea of treating those two kinds of kids differently (after all, they didn't decide where to be born or how to get there).

  3. I think it's important to note that after the civil war there were no slaves in the US. Should read: "...created for the former slaves"