You can be a citizen of the United States without being an American! As difficult as it may seem for many to understand or — better yet — accept, it is true. This is because being an “American” has nothing to do with this nation.
When this nation was born, it was not seen as a nation. At that time, the Colonies were all seen and understood as being their own nations. The Union was just that: a union or mutual cooperation between the thirteen Colonies; the thirteen Nations. This is what a “federation” is: a cooperative among equals. And that is how our founders understood this nation: as a federation of sovereign States, or Nations. They did not see themselves as citizens of The United States, but rather, as a citizen of their respective Nation State.
It is important to understand this point. As a citizen of one of the Nation States belonging to the Federation, each of our founders was afforded the privileges and protections spelled out under the U.S. Constitution, but they did not consider themselves to be citizens of the United States first, and of their State second. When this nation began, things simply did not work that way. It wasn’t until Lincoln that this changed. But yet, every member of the Union was said to be an “American.” Why? What did that mean?
It’s simple: a citizen is just a person who has legal status among the people of a State or Nation, but an American is someone who embraces the principles and ideology that gave birth to this nation.
A person can be born a citizen, but not be an American by the simple act of rejecting our founding principles and ideals. Or, a person can become a citizen through legal naturalization, yet never become an American because they hold to their origins rather than assimilate into the melting pot.
A citizen is entitled to all the privileges and protections stipulated in their State and U.S. Constitutions, but still not be worthy of the title, “American.” This is because they reject the “American” ideal. That ideal is clearly expressed in the Declaration of Independence. An American is someone who:
Rests in the conviction that we are all — individually — endowed — by God — with inalienable rights.
That chief among these rights is the right to lead a self-directed life (i.e. Liberty).
That no individual can ever take away or rightfully infringe upon our individual rights.
That the primary purpose of government is to preserve and protect the individual rights of its citizens.
And, to that end, men should live by the rule of law, and not by the whim of other men.
Finally, an “American” also realizes that such a life also comes with a duty: a duty to every other American, and to the system that affords them the life they desire. An “American” will fight and — if necessary — die to defend these beliefs.
This is the essence of Liberty, and the sole of what it means to be an “American.” It has nothing to do with a country, or borders, and everything to do with a spirit. Benjamin Franklin summed it up nicely when he said:
Where liberty dwells, there is my country.
Today, we have many ‘citizens’ of the United States, but we have fewer and fewer “Americans.” And, sadly, of those few Americans, a growing majority of them come from outside our borders. This is because those to whom “American” should be a birthright have chosen to reject that birth right. As a consequence, they have also neglected to teach their children what it means to be an “American.” Instead, they turn against the very nation that has given them the best life that man has ever known, seeking instead to go backward, back under the chains of tyranny, while insisting they are the ones working toward ‘progress.’Such people are not and can never be “Americans.” In fact, they are the antithesis of what it means to be “American.”
Then there are those brave souls who yearn for freedom. The souls who want to live a self-directed life so badly, they will risk life and limb just to get here. The people who want nothing more than to become a part of the promise that is “America,” and who dream of nothing more than joining the melting pot. These are the people who carry the spirit of “America” today. These are true “Americans” today, and even they are becoming fewer and fewer in number…
[NOTE: NO! The illegal aliens are not “Americans.” Read carefully. An “American” believes in and defends the rule of law. If a person has to break our laws to get here, they have already demonstrated they do not possess the spirit of an “American.” So, please, do not even try that argument with me. It will not stand — not here.]