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June 29 2017

Divided Nation: Some Provocative Thoughts on Disdain

by Charlotte Hays

Quote of the Day:

For many activists on the left, the drama of progress involves the defeat, humiliation, marginalization, and abuse of various categories of American citizens. Liberals like to talk about “who we are,” and these other Americans represent all that we are not.

- - Peter Spiliakos at NRO

In a must-read article at NRO, Peter Spiliakos explores the question of whether allegiance to our nation requires that we at least some degree of allegiance to our fellow citizens.

It's a provocative question that likely would not even have been asked in previous generations. Of course, we're all Americans, our parents' generation would have said.

However, when a candidate for the highest office in the land casually dismisses a significant portion of the citizenry as "deplorable," the question of solidarity with our fellow citizens becomes urgent. Are we all in this together? Or are we not?

The question plays into our debate about immigration. Spiliakos quotes Ramesh Ponnuru asking if we don't owe some kind of solidarity to our fellow Americans that we do not owe to foreigners. Spiliakos writes:

Ponnuru assumes that a component of national allegiance is solidarity with struggling — even unpleasant — Americans. That sounds like common sense, but many on the left and right now act as if national allegiance allows — requires — them to show hostility to undesirable Americans. Indeed, showing partiality to noncitizens demonstrates a higher sense of national loyalty.

For many activists on the left, the drama of progress involves the defeat, humiliation, marginalization, and abuse of various categories of American citizens. Liberals like to talk about “who we are,” and these other Americans represent all that we are not. The categories differ with the circumstances (gun owners, traditionalist Catholics, white Evangelicals, fraternity members), but the common thread is the belief that liberals have a right to cut corners on civic — and constitutional — norms in order to subdue the enemies of progress.

Take the case of a usually well-meaning fellow like Bernie Sanders. Sanders praised the court decision that struck down President Trump’s plan to bar entry into the U.S. from seven predominately Muslim countries. Courts twisted themselves into pretzels to find that the First Amendment’s religious protection effectively applied to people who were not citizens and who had never even come to the U.S.

And yet  the well-meaning Senator Sanders didn't afford the same considerations to an American citizen:

At the same time, on the nomination of Russell Vought to the Office of Management and Budget, Sanders tried to find a way around the “no religious tests” section of the Constitution by opposing him on the grounds that he didn’t like Vought’s theology — even though there was no obvious connection between Vought’s beliefs on salvation and the job to which he had been appointed. The no-religious-tests provision of the Constitution is even older than the First Amendment. It was designed to prevent the religious proscriptions from public life that were then common in Europe. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was that Vought was the wrong kind of Christian. For Sanders, refugees from foreign countries are who we are, and it is fine if the Constitution were reimagined on judicial whim to give them a right to enter. Vought wasn’t “who we are,” and, as far as Sanders was concerned, that was all it took to scrap civic and constitutional norms.

Spiliakos cites journalist Ezra Klein's support for lowering the standards for proving sexual assault accusations because a class of people Klein disdains--frat boys--would have to fear even false sexual assault accusations.  

In the same way, the Obama administration tried to stick it to the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic religious order, because it believed that enlightened people believe what progressives believe about the matter. There was simply no tolerance for the consciences of those with views that are "unacceptable."

Spiliakos warns conservatives about being too smug--they have their own set of deplorables, he argues. He cites Mitt Romney's remark about the 47 percent of Americans who, in Romney's view, could not be taught to take responsibility for their own lives. Spiliakos writes:

What all of the above have in common is an oligarchical view of citizenship. They seem to think of themselves as the managers and shareholders of America with the wage-earning citizens as the help rather than as civic equals.

What is so sorely lacking in our political debates today is the sense that we're all in it together.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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