America and 'The Dying Citizen'

Only a little more than half of the current world’s 7 billion people are citizens of fully consensual governments.

That lucky 50 percent alone enjoys constitutionally protected freedoms. Most are also Western. Or at least they reside in nations that have become “Westernized.”

Migrants, regardless of their race, religion or gender, almost always head for a Western nation. And most often their destination remains the United States. The more it is now fashionable for Americans to take for granted or even to ridicule the idea of their own country, the more the non-American global poor risk their lives to crash America’s borders.

Constitutional systems easily perish because they ask a lot of their citizens — to vote, to be informed about civic and political issues, and to hold elected officials accountable. That responsibility is perhaps why, of the world’s true republics and democracies, only about 22 have been in existence for a half-century or more. We are seldom told, then, that America is a rare, precious and perhaps even fragile idea, both in the past and in the present.

American citizens are clearly also not the custom of the past. Unlike history’s more common peasants, citizens are not under the control of

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