Nation (re)Building in the “United States”

Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty was originally meant to be a symbol of “enlightenment,” based on respect for laws that supported political freedoms. Its reference as a beacon of hope for “tired, poor, huddled, homeless masses” seeking refuge was hotly criticized by Nativists (Americans opposed to immigration) at the end of the 19th century. They felt their way of life was being threatened by waves of newcomers.                           Sound familiar?

 This is what I have to say about the “immigration issue” … Let’s keep the immigrants and deport the politicians!

This is just one of the PO’d comments my friend made during the course of a discussion that checked off a long list of problems facing our country. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Not that I think it’s totally absurd. It just ain’t gonna happen. (Hmmmm … but maybe? Like, if the popular vote could ever really mean anything?)

Then it was my turn to be PO’d, and I was recounting one of my first posts about an immigration reform bill when many of us poor, silly-minded naive citizens were hopeful that Congress might actually do their job. No such luck. And sadly, it’s only gotten worse.

Which is why I’m here now — more than a year later! — proposing some ideas of my own, short of deporting “the politicians”. (“Uh, oh!” some of my friends are saying now.) Trust me … I’ve given serious thought as well as time to researching how we can do some “nation building” in this place we like to call the United States of America.

First off, our country has never been truly united. It’s an idealistic philosophy that we’ve been taught since we were young — that the American colonists were passionately of one mind about winning independence from their British oppressors, and that bloody, united front fused our hearts and souls together for eternity.

Not so … Long before the Revolutionary War, the various immigrant groups were settling in different regions north, south, and west of the east coast, and they were establishing themselves as distinct from each other culturally and politically. Some of them had no interest in going to war with the British; they were too busy protecting themselves against each other.

In his introduction of “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of the North America,” author Colin Woodward writes, Our divisions stem from this fact: the United States is a federation comprised of the whole or part of 11 regional nations, some of which truly do not see eye to eye with one another. … Few have shown any indication that they are melting into some sort of unified American culture. On the contrary, since 1960 the fault lines between these nations have been growing wider, fueling culture wars, constitutional struggles, and ever more frequent pleas for unity. I believe Woodward’s book should be required reading in every high school American history class.

My 3-point plan for rebuilding our fractured nation 

With the current humanitarian crisis on our southwest border — the El Norte region in Woodward’s book* —  being the focus, I propose the following plan — which could be used for any number of challenges across the country’s 3.71 million square miles. I’m sure it could use some tweaking … Let me know what you think:

  1. Nation Building right here on American soil, funded by our military budget … It’s been estimated that our two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq may end up costing the country as much as $6 trillion. How many times have you said or heard someone else say something like, “We should be spending that money on our problems at home!”? I certainly support that idea, but I wonder how our economy will support the nearly 1.5 million active military personnel. In 2008, George W. Bush authorized “nation building” in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the State Department’s new Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization set about recruiting an elite Civilian Reserve Corps of specialists: engineers, judges, prison wardens, health experts and city planners. The goal was for this corps to be available for deployment to “failed states in a crisis” in as little as 48 hours. The Posse Comitatus Act, passed in 1878 after the Reconstruction of the South, prevents federal troops from enforcing state laws. Coast Guard personnel, however, are part of the Department of Homeland Security; they can be deployed to the border. And, not all Army, Air Force and Navy service members are trained for battle (enforcement), so I wonder why they couldn’t be utilized as well. Also, I ask, “What about sending our elite corps of civilian specialists to the region too?”
  2. Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships … This White House initiative, also begun by George W. Bush, aims to create strong, productive relationships between government and non-profit organizations — both secular and faith-based — to more effectively serve Americans in need (… to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted; to make peace where there is strife and rebuild what has broken; to lift up those who have fallen on hard times). A majority of Americans believe what’s happening on the southwest border is a humanitarian rather than an immigration crisis. Plenty of people might object to the OFBNP issuing grants to “illegals,” so why not create a partnership between this government agency and — say, for one example — the American Red Cross, where people can send donations to aid the Central American refugees streaming across our border? In January 2010, within days after Haiti was devastated by an earthquake, ARC raised more than $130 million. Shortly after Hurricane Sandy hit America’s east coast, ARC raised $145 million.  Whether it’s a crisis outside or inside our borders — and, even during “hard times” —  many Americans are generous with their money and want to help others in need.
  3. Universal National Service … A “Time” online article from 2007 made a case for creating a common culture of service — one that would celebrate our national diversity at the same time as uniting our like-minded generous spirits. The article did not advocate mandatory or compulsory service, but I wonder, “Why not?” Think of it as joining “the military” (check out its big budget) … There are those who are needed to train for and protect our country, and there are those who can train for and are needed to rebuild our country. Besides recruiting/employing teenagers who don’t want to complete high school and could be directed away from getting into trouble, there are those who are college bound and/or college graduates who could support themselves and work toward student loan forgiveness. Also, there are many older adults who are in need of a job/retraining in a different field, and seniors who may not only need to supplement their dwindling retirement funds but also have many talents to share with others. Additionally, to satisfy our immigration laws, why not compel “illegals” to sign up for national service and work toward legal status? We could begin by “employing” some of the 60,000 refugees currently coming to us for help … We help you, you “help” us. If done right, it could be a win-win on so many levels and in so many neighborhoods across our great land, our United States of America.

 

Long before the American colonists landed on the shores of New England, “immigrants” from the Mexican and Central American regions were making El Norte their home. Click here for a map of The American Nations Today, according to Colin Woodward’s book “American Nations.” Woodward explains: The oldest of the American nations, El Norte consists of the borderlands of the Spanish American empire, which were so far from the seats of power in Mexico City and Madrid that they evolved their own characteristics. Most Americans are aware of El Norte as a place apart, where Hispanic language, culture, and societal norms dominate. But few realize that among Mexicans, norteños have a reputation for being exceptionally independent, self-sufficient, adaptable, and focused on work. Long a hotbed of democratic reform and revolutionary settlement, the region encompasses parts of Mexico that have tried to secede in order to form independent buffer states between their mother country and the United States. 

2 thoughts on “Nation (re)Building in the “United States”

  1. This is so well written with such extensive research which you obviously enjoy doing. Your 3 points are very well presented. Keep your voice heard, I need to hear it..to learn from you!

    Like

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