Anymore, it seems public figures and politicians are tripping over each other to highlight the need to care for illegal immigrants, or refugees of foreign wars, displaced individuals around the globe, or nearly anybody except “Joe Plumber,” citizen of the U.S.A.
I think being more concerned about others rather than citizens of the United States conflicts with the oath of office for public servants. Even President Obama’s 2010 National Security Strategy changed from what the last several presidents put forward. The list shown on Page 7 has been centered for years on providing three things to citizens of the nation – 1) Security, 2) Economy, and 3) Defense of Values. This same basic list made it through numerous prior presidents, who each added their own spin of ~how~ to accomplish these goals.
Starting in 2010, for the first time there’s a 4th named interest: International order and cooperation. Although I think globalization is over-rated, I know enough about Liberalism, Realism, and Constructionism to appreciate that America is not an isolated island. The subtle change that concerns me is that international engagement used to be HOW we pursued goals, whereas now international engagement IS the goal.
The point is not what we do, but rather what core motive drivers are. We now name the rest of the globe right up there with security, economy, and values of our own citizens. We respond to a higher appeal of fairness or equity to non-citizens. It has never been fair that some nations get ocean coasts and others do not. Some get forests and others do not. Some are cold and some have nice tourist beaches. Westfalian concepts of nation states has never been based on equality, and problems within another nation – the care and feeding of its citizens – has traditionally been the responsibility of the host government.
Not so much any more. It seems were more concerned with making things right for any other “them” (our opinion of what is right) rather than right for our own citizens (who sign up for our opinion of what is right by virtue of remaining citizens). This explains the tepid desire toward enforcing immigration laws. This explains the over-tangled commitments in the Middle East. This explains the over-burdened and de-militarized military. It explains why individual benevolence is disappearing as our de-personalized government takes over the job.
It seems that we’ve simply lost focus on the purpose of our government. I wonder if a contemporary American politician could survive if they said, “I don’t think we should help group XXX because we are first going to spend our resources on American citizens.”