By Tim Donner
For all the endless speculation about the results of Tuesday’s midterm elections, there is far more on the line than whether Republicans or Democrats control Congress. The outcome may well be an indicator of whether America chooses to embrace or reject the very premise of its 242-year history.
This metaphysical question is exemplified by the issue of immigration, brought front and center constantly by President Trump. This has evidently been his intent from the moment he came down that escalator in Trump Tower in 2015 and ignited a firestorm about illegal immigration.
Upon his election, Trump started rolling the ball downhill with talk of his signature border wall, an as-yet unfulfilled promise. It’s been followed by debates over travel bans, DACA/dreamers, s—hole countries, zero-tolerance policies, the migrant caravan, and now birthright citizenship.
At the heart of every one of these issues is a principle which once defined America but has now been reduced to a quaint notion: e pluribus unum. Out of many, one.
This national motto, which appears on the Great Seal of the United States of America, takes us all the way back to the country’s founding generation. It was devised scrupulously by a committee of America’s founders following the Declaration of Independence, affirming a common creed and culture to which all would adhere, a broad commitment to creating a distinctly American culture that includes all who share the values it represents regardless of race, creed, or color.
But given the historically bitter partisan divisions we are witnessing today, and even talk in some quarters of a second civil war, it has been reduced to an almost laughable concept.
That does not change the reality that, if Americans are truly concerned about illegal immigration – a fact affirmed in the 2016 election and perhaps again on Tuesday – it is ultimately because they are not convinced that illegal immigrants are committed to the cause of e pluribus unum in an environment where open border advocates place racial and ethnic identity over national unity or the individual.
The citizenry is wary of those who break the law in entering the country without consequence. The debate would be radically altered if there was an assurance that such people are committed to the same values that have made America what it is.
But they are not, because the left has conducted a relentless, long-running campaign to fundamentally transform our culture. They have long desired to turn our melting pot into a mosaic, sacrificing a common cultural identity at the altar of diversity for its own sake. They have polarized the nation by partitioning it into ethnic and racial subcultures.
Had you ever before heard of attacks on people for their whiteness, as we have these last two years? Race hustlers like Don Lemon on CNN and Eddie Gaude on MSNBC demonize white people with impunity, creating a new normal, which is perverse and evacuated of any semblance of the American ethos.
And while Democrats are united in their protection of illegal immigrants, the GOP has hardly spoken with one voice on the issue. Many of the 40 Republicans retiring from Congress – enough to throw Tuesday’s elections into uncertainty at best – chose to run away from the fight because of discomfort with the President’s hard-edged pronouncements and policies on immigration.
Trump has forsaken political correctness and multiculturalism and replaced it with the vision of a unicultural, multiracial country where those who “work hard and play by the rules” are embraced and rewarded, while those who don’t are cast aside.
Those who ask reasonable questions on the issue have been silenced or shamed.
But the immigration uproar continues to result in much heat and little light. Those who ask reasonable questions on the issue have been silenced or shamed.
Bringing it Back?
The most important of these questions – a natural outgrowth of the e pluribus unum issue – is whether immigrants will, in the aggregate, be productive enough to grow the economy, or slow it down. People who have come here in a genuine pursuit of happiness – as described in the Declaration of Independence – are likely to boost the economy and embrace the essence of America. Those who want only to live off the fat of the land and the welfare state will not exhibit a similar embrace.
President Trump’s attempts to resurrect e pluribus unum have been met by vicious resistance from those who would open our borders and allow immigrants to pour in with little or no regard for who they are or what they believe.
These midterm elections are shaping up as a referendum – not just on Trump and his presidency, but on the very notion of America as an exceptional nation committed to a common and distinct culture. Whether e pluribus unum continues it slow march to oblivion or is resurrected afresh may very well depend on what the voters decide in 2018 and 2020.