February 11, 2014
Dead Souls In the Republican Leadership
By John T. Bennett
"America cannot become the world and still be America."
So warned the late Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington in his 2004 article "America's Dead Souls." Huntington's article was prophetic, and it explains why some GOP pols have taken the side of big business and illegal immigrants over the interests of our nation.
"In a variety of ways, the American establishment, governmental and private, has become increasingly divorced from the American people," Huntington wrote.
Huntington's core point was that the American elite has grown extremely distant -- socially, economically, morally, and politically -- from the public. This trend, he warned, undermines our democracy and harms the interests of the majority.
Huntington wrote that the American majority is concerned with "societal security," meaning sustaining "existing patterns of language, culture, association, religion and national identity." Elites, however, placed societal security behind "supporting international trade and migration" and "encouraging minority identities and cultures at home."
The framework laid out in "America's Dead Souls" is crucial to understanding how to respond to the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
The Dead Souls
Huntington took his provocative title, "America's Dead Souls," from Sir Waltrer Scott's "Lay of the Last Minstrel":
"Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said:
'This is my own, my native Land?'
For Huntington, "decreasing ties with the American nation" characterize the dead soul; the elites who are "not likely to be overwhelmed with deep feelings of commitment" towards the nation. We see the same fundamental problem in the immigration debate now.
To most Americans, the border signifies the boundary of our national home, and majorities prioritize enforcing that border. Sadly, there are now many dead souls among the Republican leadership, who don't share the same principles as the majority of their constituents.
In the wake of recent amnesty proposals from leading Republicans, the response from conservative commentators is overwhelmingly characterized by the theme that Republican leadership is selling out the country.
The key to appreciating the depths of this sellout, and fighting back against it, can be found in Huntington's framework. Using extensive interviews and polling data from decades' worth of research, Huntington showed that people in positions of power were becoming more and more at odds with the American public. This includes elites in government, the media, business, academics, and religion. He documented the ways in which elites have grown far more liberal than the public, making for an unrepresentative democracy, with significant clashes on public policy and the direction of our country. From the 70s through the 90s, public opinion research showed that actual policy began to correlate less and less with pubic opinion, illustrating a greater lack of responsiveness on the part of governmental elites. NAFTA was just one example.
"Substantial elite elements are increasingly divorced from their country, and the American public, in turn, is increasingly disillusioned with its government," Huntington wrote.
Immigration and the Dead Souls
Elites are less and less devoted to national interests. To Huntington, this includes the issue of immigration.
The elites, who Huntington called cosmopolitans or "transnationalists," were people who "have little need for national loyalty." Those transnationalists "view national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing." That insight sheds light on our current state.
To the likes of Cantor and Boehner, the border is noting but an obstacle to their ambitions as members of an elite class.The obstacle that is our border would, if Cantor and Boehner had their way, vanish under the fatuous "principles" which were recently laid out by the pro-amnesty Republicans.
Perhaps the most absurd immigration "principle" is the one that holds, "One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents." Rewarding the children of illegal immigrants with citizenship would serve to incentivize lawlessness. A politician can promote law and order, or promote amnesty, but not both.
If the politicians' priority is currying favor with noncitizens, then they will seek to erase national boundaries in order to do so. That will be the natural preference of a transnationalist, regardless of what party they belong to.
As some Republican leaders grow more reliant on interests connected to global trade, Huntington's framework suggests that their outlooks will change, and we must acknowledge that. "Different perceptions -- especially between the citizenry and the more cosmopolitan elites -- of what constitutes national identity generate different national interests and policy priorities," as he noted. This is an insight that goes all the way back to Adam Smith, who observed that "the proprietor of land is necessarily a citizen of the particular country in which his estate lies... the proprietor of stock is properly a citizen of the world, and is not necessarily attached to any particular country."
Today, exactly as Huntington warned, we are seeing the intensification of a decades-old pattern of elite misconduct and disregard for the needs and interests of the public.
The Nationalist Solution
Huntington's work calls for a sober nationalism as the response to denationalization. To protect societal security today, it is evident that we must remove the denationalized multicultural elites like John Boehner and Eric Cantor, and replace them with people rooted in greater loyalty to American citizens.
In contrast with denationalization, Huntington called for a "national approach," which refuses to allow America to become a balkanized facsimile of other nations and societies.
A national approach would recognize and accept what distinguishes America from those societies... America is different, and that difference is defined in large part by its religious commitment and Anglo-Protestant culture.
"America cannot become the world and still be America," Huntington presciently wrote. Multiculturalism functions to make America more like other societies. In fact, Huntington took direct aim at multiculturalism, and explored the ways it is in conflict with a shared national identity.
Huntington urged an approach of "nationalism devoted to the preservation and enhancement of those qualities that have defined America from its inception." One of those qualities, conservatives can all agree, is respect for the rule of law. Our immigration law is the first American tradition rejected by illegal immigrants. If someone is willing to reject our laws the instant they cross the border, or overstay their visa, then they are refusing to assimilate to one of our most vital traditions.
Of course, ethnic special interest groups will see to it that even more traditions are rejected. In 1995, the president of the National Council of La Raza said, "The biggest problem we have is a cultural clash, a clash between our values and the values in American society." It is a safe bet that La Raza's influence on the largest group of immigrants will remain stronger than the influence of, say, John Boehner.
In 2004, Huntington wrote, "[T]he number of dead souls is small but growing among American's business, professional, intellectual, and academic elites." The elites do not take our interests to heart, because the beltway is a "socio-cultural bubble," as Huntington would say, with a worldview that most Americans find bizarre or dubious.
Few American politicians would admit that they don't share the principles of their constituents. But we don't have to guess at what lies within the thought processes of pro-amnesty Republicans. They are proposing a policy that would have awful consequences, and they do not have sufficient dedication to their constituents to place America's national interests above the interests of global moneymaking or multicultural pandering.
What we are living through now is the culmination of a dangerous pattern of elite disregard for the needs and interests of the majority. The pattern is recognizable, ongoing, and very harmful. The pattern explains the current of rising anger directed towards the government, with trust in government plummeting, according to Pew Research. The solution is to replace Republican multiculturalists with nationalists, or at least politicians who are devoted to maintaining the integrity of our border. With that in mind, Eric Cantor has a challenger named David Brat, an economics professor who deserves a close look.
Additionally, Capital Hill sources are indicating that an "outpouring of phone calls" is the one thing pro-amnesty Republicans will take note of. It is becoming clear that the Republican leadership will not represent the public faithfully unless they are forced to do so.