I think the current controversy over immigration reform points to a larger issue in America today, which is that Americans are essentially split on the very idea of what America is and should be.
It used to be that Americans mostly agreed that in order to attain citizenship, immigrants had to not only come to this country legally but also demonstrate, after training and study in the American system, that they believed in the unique United States Constitution and embraced what it means to be an American. Though that still occurs in the naturalization process, we seem to have abandoned it altogether in connection with the immigration debate.
What sense does it make that we seek to instill a love of America in those earnestly seeking to acquire legal citizenship through the proper procedures but ignore it altogether in our rush to legalize 11 million illegals?
One major difficulty is that the hard but extremely influential American left, by and large, doesn't seem to have any special affinity for the American idea, the gloriousness of the U.S. Constitution or even the notion of national identity at all, which they associate with intolerance, cultural chauvinism and anti-globalism.
Indeed, hard-leftists don't just disagree with many of America's founding ideals; they believe that it's somehow backward even to have such ideals, because to them, it reflects a prejudice against other systems, cultures and values.
So, you see, this is not really a debate over whether the American system and the ideas and values undergirding it produced the greatest nation in world history and thus should be preserved. It is a core disagreement about whether it's even proper and desirable to endorse a unique set of founding ideals as being superior to any other.
But I ask you: What nation has ever survived, much less thrived, when it lost its national identity?
But just as the left blocks proposals to reduce federal spending and entitlement reform while claiming to support them, it is doing everything it can to block border enforcement. Barbarians aren't at the gate; they are inside and blocking the erection of the gate.
Why would any American citizen want to encourage immigrants to come to this country and not embrace America? Yet how can we doubt that leftists want that result when they flood our universities with like-minded colleagues who are indoctrinating their students against embracing it and when President Obama identifies with La Raza, the militant Mexican nationalist group?
It's not the right wing that is constantly berating the United States before the United Nations. It is not originalist Supreme Court justices refusing to recommend the U.S. Constitution as a model for Egypt. It is not right-wing university professors (to the extent that this species is not wholly extinct) loading up their curricula with courses denouncing everything imaginable about the United States. It is not a conservative presidential candidate who vowed to fundamentally change America and then proceeded to do so once in office.
But what does being American or supporting American ideals even mean anymore? Let's take one example. Can we all agree that promoting a strong work ethic was something almost all Americans once agreed on? Weren't self-reliance and rugged individualism -- a can-do attitude -- admired traits that were understood not to conflict with Christian charity and compassion?
Yet today our leftist ruling class is making it noble to be on government assistance and ignoble to work and produce. Call that hyperbole if you choose, but I hear a president who is constantly berating capitalism, the free market, business and those who have been successful. He has incentivized states to expand their food stamp rolls, reversed welfare reforms, extended unemployment benefits to the point that it exacerbates unemployment, and fiercely opposed entitlement reform. How can this agenda possibly be good for America, much less in the long-term interests of those targeted for government dependency?
Are reports that the Obama administration doesn't require applicants to declare their immigration status to qualify for food stamps true? Is the Department of Agriculture really actively working with the Mexican government to promote food stamps for illegal aliens? I don't know, but these types of outrages are certainly believable with this administration. What self-respecting nation engages in such insanity?
Call me harsh for suggesting the hard left, which controls much of our government, is at war with the American idea. But today the left paints those who support traditional values as bigoted, those who support traditional marriage as homophobes and bigots, and those who support welfare reform, school choice, voter identification laws and securing the borders, as well as those who oppose punitive taxes on the "wealthy," as racists.
No, we just aspire to colorblindness and promote equal opportunity and equal protection of the laws for all Americans. We have pride in America and its founding ideals and unapologetically assert that they are responsible for the greatest experiment in constitutional governance in history and therefore want to preserve them.
Liberals are always paying lip service to consensus building. How about we start by agreeing to embrace America? Or is national pride truly a dirty term?
Washington Examiner columnist David Limbaugh is nationally syndicated by Creators Syndicate (www.creatorsyndicate.com).