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writing for godot

The Serialization (8) of The 15% Solution: How the Repub. Religious Right Took Control of the US: 1981-2022, Section 2: The History: The “Preserve America Amendment,” the 30th.

Written by Steven Jonas   
Thursday, 13 July 2017 10:40

A note from the actual author (that is myself, Steven Jonas, MD, MPH).  Please note that this chapter was actually written in 1994-95.  The similarities between the politics of the Republicans and of the Democrats then and in recent times are NOT purely coincidental.


A Note from the “Author” of the balance of the text (that is “Jonathan Westminster”)

The story of fascism in the old United States in my view begins with the accession to the Presidency of Carnathon Pine, The Last Re­pub­li­can, in the year 2001. And thus, the drama as we will see it in some detail began in earnest with the last Chap­ter, constructed around the “last Republican,” President Carnathon Pine’s Inau­gu­ral Address” “The Real Drug War.”  This chapter is built around the first of the Constitutional Amendments which eventually lead to the establishment of a fascist United States.  This one makes it impossible for immigrants to themselves become citizens, although their children might, that is if they marry a U.S. citizen.

The 30th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (2002): ­

Commencing on the day following rati­fication of this amend­ment, no per­son not at that time a citizen of the United States may in the future become a citi­zen unless at least one parent of that per­son is a citizen of the United States.

Author's Commentary

The 30th Amendment to the Consti­tution of the United States was the third of a series of Amend­ments pro­posed by Right‑Wing Reaction to pass the Con­gress and be ratified by the states since the Republican Party had taken over the Congress following the 1994 election. The 28th, the Bal­anced Budget Amendment (with loopholes), had been rati­fied in 1999. The 29th, the Federal Con­gressional Terms Limits Amendment, was rati­fied in the year 2000.

The 27th Amendment, which prevented any Congressional pay rais­es from taking effect during the term of the Congress that adopted them, and had its origins back in the Federalist Period, had been rati­fied on May 7, 1992. Pre­vious to its adoption, the Constitution had not been amended since 1971. But starting in 1999, the pace of amending quickened mark­edly, and that pace would not noticeably slacken over the next eight years. The then on‑coming flood of Right‑Wing Reaction‑sponsored Amendments would, in the first de­cade of the 21st century, alter the Constitution of the old U.S. almost beyond recogni­tion.

The Ratification Process

The 30th was the first Amendment passed un­der the Presidency of the Last Republican, Carnathon Pine. It is noteworthy that while there had been some struggle over ratification of the 28th and 29th amend­ments, there was virtually none over ratification of the 30th. It took less than 13 months from the time the amendment was in­troduced in the 107th Con­gress during the first week of its first session in January, 2001, until it was ratified by the 38th state to do so, Iowa, on February 2, 2002. In fact, ten state legislatures had "ratified" the amendment (de jure indicating that they would ratify if it passed both Houses of Con­gress) even before the final language had been worked out and it was passed by an overwhelming vote in both Houses of Congress.

(This jumping the gun followed a practice initi­ated by the several states, for example New Jersey and Alabama, which had "ratified" the Balanced Bud­get Amendment [with loopholes], back in 1995, before the final vote in the Congress. Ironically, the Amendment did fail to pass the Senate that year, by one vote.)

Picking Up the Pace

Given the deliberate pace with which any pro­posals to change the Restored Constitution of our Re‑United States are considered in our own time, the read­er might find most peculiar the rush with which the vener­a­ble document that had stood the old U.S. in such good stead for 200 years was al­tered to fit the prevailing political prejudices of the time. But given the political realities of the Transition Era, this "speed‑up" should come as no surprise. For just as "The 15% Solu­tion" had pro­vided the Right‑Wing Reactionaries with a ham­merlock on control of the U.S. Congress, so it gave them the same level of control on the legisla­tures of most of the states.

By 2002 the Right‑Wing Reactionaries­ had achieved a two‑thirds majority in both houses of the legisla­tures of 40 states. (Needed for ratifi­cation of any Amend­ment under the old Constitu­tion was the affir­mation of 38 states.) Only in Ha­waii, Massachu­setts, Min­nesota, Ne­braska (the one state with a unicam­eral, non‑partisan legis­lature), New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Ver­mont, West Virginia, and Wis­consin had the Right‑Wing onslaught failed to achieve complete legislative control. In all of the other states, the inter‑related, self‑reinforcing combina­tion of steadily declining voter turn­out and no effective, dis­tinc­tive electoral opposition offering real alterna­tives to Right‑Wing Reac­tion had inexo­rably lead to its victory, as discussed in the previous chapter. This was the same com­bi­na­tion of phenomenae that had ac­com­plished the same end at the na­tion­al level.

The Origins of the 30th Amendment

The expressed underlying purpose of the 30th Amendment was to end all immigration, legal or illegal, into the United States. This was clear from the several years run‑up to its Congressional introduction (fulfilling a campaign promise made by President Pine). There had been much agita­tion and contro­versy over the role immigrants, of both the legal and illegal variety, played in creat­ing and perpetuating the problems faced by the old U.S. in the 1990s. The character of the public reasoning offered in sup­port of a measure de­signed to shut the door to potential immigrants to the world's leading nation of immi­grants was well illustrated by the title given to the Amendment by its support­ers: "The Preserve America Amend­ment."

The campaign had been up and running for some time. For exam­ple, in the mid‑1990s an or­ganization known as the Federation for American Immigra­tion Reform (FAIR) called for a "Morato­rium on Immigration" (c. 1994). The ultra‑Right‑Wing Republican Patrick Bu­chanan picked up the proposal in an­nouncing his Presi­dential candidacy in 1995 (Berke). (Pres­aging the develop­ment of the Killer Fence, Bu­chanan also proposed at that time considering "defending the border" with National Guard troops and building a wall along it [Wright]. One question at time was would Bu­chanan view potential illegal immi­grants in the same light as an invading Army, and give his National Guard border guardians orders to shoot to kill.)

In 1995, an English immigrant, one Peter Brimelow, published a book called Alien Nation: Common Sense About America's Immigration Di­sas­ter (New York: Random House). Despite his own immigrant status, re­flect­ing well the Right‑Wing Reactionary propaganda on immi­gration of the time, he said (Lind):

"The United States faces the direct equivalent of being aban­doned by the imperial umpire: the breaking of . . . the racial hegemony of white Ameri­cans. . . . The contradictions of a society as deep­ly divid­ed as the United States must now inexo­rably become, as a result of the post‑1965 influx, will lead to conflict, repression, and perhaps, ultimately to a threat thought extinct in America politics for more than a hundred years: se­cession."

(In this last thought, Brimelow eerily presaged the reverse secession of the New American Republics to come.)

In its proposal, FAIR did not distinguish between legal and illegal immi­gration. And unlike Buchanan, they did not reveal just how they proposed to halt either variety in practical terms. But that did not stop them from blaming virtually every national problem, from unemploy­ment, through lack of afford­able housing, to the crisis in the health care and educational systems, on immi­gration, and by implication on the immigrants themselves. FAIR then went on to call for that "halt." However, by impli­cation once again, they guaranteed that the nation's problems would some­how be magically solved if immigration were somehow stopped.

The "Open‑Door" Tradition

In 1903, the poet Emma Lazarus penned the sonnet that included the fa­mous phrase (The World Book):

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched re­fuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the home­less, tempest‑tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

It was inscribed on the tablet that adorned the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor.

In 1940, the liberal President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had ad­dressed an organization known as the Daughters of the American Revo­lu­tion.  Xeno­phobic, isolationist, Right‑Wing and inherently "anti‑for­eigner," it consist­ed of descen­dants of families that had been in the old United States since at least the time of the American Revolution. Roo­sevelt, who could trace his American roots back to 17th century Dutch settlers in Nieuw Am­ster­dam, opened his address with the greet­ing: "Fel­low immi­grants." A colli­sion of the souls of Lazarus and Roo­se­velt spin­ning in their graves after observing the anti‑immigrant move­ment of the Transition Era would have been something to behold.

Initiative and Referendum and Prop. 187

By the mid‑1990s, the FAIR brand of agitation had lead, for exam­ple, to the passage of "Proposi­tion 187" in the state of California in 1994, by the process of "Initiative and Referendum" (I&R) [1]. Some observers have noted the close parallel be­tween the adoption of Propo­si­tion 187 in Cali­for­nia in 1994 and the subsequent rapid rise of the anti‑immigrant move­ment nationally, and the adoption of the property tax‑limiting Proposition 13 in the same state in 1977 and the subsequent rise of the national "anti‑tax" movement. Both Propo­sitions are now considered to have been ma­jor factors in the eventual rise of American Fas­cism (Terry and McGhee).

The Nature of Proposition 187

California's Proposition 187 prohibited the pro­vision to immigrants who had not legally entered the country and state of a wide range of social services, from health care to education. It was eventually de­clared uncon­stitutional by the Su­preme Court. (It later reappeared in a somewhat dif­ferent form, before a radically different Court, and achieved approval). The Republican governor of California at the time, one "Pete" Wilson, had hitherto been considered a so‑called "moderate" Republican. His use of this clearly Right‑Wing Reaction­ary issue to help him come from way be­hind to achieve a landslide victory in the 1994 Cal­ifornia gubernatorial election campaign, gave the issue respect­abil­ity and a certain cachet (Maharidge).

Wilson had not always held to the position he took in 1994. In 1986, as a United States Senator beholden to powerful California farm interests, Wilson had made sure that national immigration reform legis­lation of that year, aimed at illegal immigration as well, still made it possible for those interests to hire the illegal immigrant labor they need­ed to bring in their crops cheaply (Apple). But as Governor, he appar­ently realized that by opposing illegal immigration and making it a ma­jor issue, he could attract a large number of votes, whether or not the interests of his rich farmer backers were affected or not. (For more on this aspect of the issue, see the Dino Louis essay quoted at the end of this chapter.)

Indirection and Proposition 187

The choice of indirection employed by the framers of Prop. 187 to achieve the supposedly desired outcome, an end to illegal immigration, was an interest­ing one. The expressed theory be­hind the Proposition was, "cut off social services, and those people won't come." In nature, it was just like the stan­dard Right‑Wing Reactionary justification for significantly reducing the provi­sion of welfare benefits during the Tran­sition Era: "cut out welfare for single mothers and the illegiti­macy rate will go down."

This kind of rationale connected a government social support pro­gram to an individual behavior. The linkage seemed utterly logical to the critic of both the support program and the behavior. But the same linkage rarely if ever made it into the mind of the program beneficia­ry/engager‑in‑the‑behavior. The proponents of the existence of the linkag­es in fact were never able to cite data‑based proof to support the validity of either the "social services‑are‑linked‑to‑immigration" or the "welfare‑is‑linked‑to‑illegitimacy" theories, but that didn't stop them from using a position that sure sounded good in the political arena.

And in the political arena, it was likely that in reality the whole strate­gy of indirection was a highly cynical one on Wilson's part. He was smart enough to know that most immigrants who came illegally to Califor­nia were seeking work, not social services, even education for their chil­dren. Thus, he was smart enough to probably know that the flow of illegals to the farms of his rich backers would not be dried up if Proposi­tion 187 were implemented (and he may well have privately told them that as well). But, as noted, it sounded good, it reinforced other Right‑Wing Reactionary dogma, and it did win elec­tions.

Following this position, indirection was at the core of the 30th Amend­ment. It didn't ban immigration directly; it just said that no immi­grant could ever become a citizen, thus permanently making immi­grants to the old U.S. permanently "different." Of course, immigrants had been made "different" before. For example, during the Transition Era, even legal immigrants had been made into a "different" category by the Right‑Wing Reactionaries of the 104th Congress. They pro­posed that legal immigrants, who had Social Securi­ty numbers, worked legal­ly, and paid taxes (just as many illegal immigrants did, it hap­pened), be denied access to welfare and other social services. These were all mea­sures aimed at creating a "politics of difference."

The "Politics of 'Difference' "

The politics of difference was standard Republi­can fare throughout the Transition Era. In his then‑famous speech to the Republican Na­tional Conven­tion in 1992, the prominent Right‑Wing Reactionary Pat­rick Bu­chanan had said (1992):

"There is a religious war going on in this country. It is a cul­tural war, as critical to the kind of na­tion we shall be as the Cold War itself, for this war is for the soul of America. And in that strug­gle . . . Clinton and Clinton are on the other side, and George Bush is on our side. . . . we must take back our cities, and take back our culture, and take back our country."

When another of the men‑in‑a‑perpetual‑rage of the time, Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, an­nounced his candidacy for the Republican nomina­tion for President in 1995, baldly borrowing from Buchanan (without ac­knowledgment) he said (Page):

"Our job is not finished. We are one victory away from re­vers­ing the course of American history. We're one victory away from getting our money back and our freedom back and our country back. And that victo­ry is a victory over Bill Clinton in 1996."

Just who were the "we" and the implied "them," the nature of the "re­li­gious war," just what is the "soul of Ameri­ca," just what "culture" is being referred to, just what was meant by "freedom" and "country," and just exactly how a victory over Bill (and Hillary) Clinton would accom­plish the undefined aims, were all left unelucidated in such speeches. But pre­sumably the followers of Buchanan and Gramm, who would later be­come the stal­warts for Jefferson Davis Hague, "knew" whom and what they meant.

A liberal newspaper columnist of the time, Anna Quindlen, de­scribed this strategy as the "cult of otherness." She said (1994):

"Otherness posits that there are large groups of people with whom you have nothing in common, not even a discernible shared hu­manity. Not only are these groups profoundly differ­ent from you, they are also, covert­ly, somehow less: less wor­thy, less moral, less good.

"The sense of otherness is the single most pernicious force in Ameri­can discourse. Its not‑like‑us ethos makes so much bigot­ry possible: rac­ism, sexism, homophobia. . . .

"[Newton] Gingrich began milking the poli­tics of exclusion long be­fore the [1994] election returns were in when he dis­missed the President and Mrs. [Bill] Clinton as 'counterculture.' Meet­ing with a group of lobbyists, natch, he said he would seek to portray Clinton Democrats as the 'enemy of normal people.' In a speech several weeks ago, he de­scribed America as a 'battleground' be­tween men of God, like him, and the 'secular anti‑religious view of the left.'"

The politics of difference had been previously brought to its highest pitch by the German Nazis, who thoroughly demonized the Jews before they proceeded to exterminate all they could lay their hands on (Davidowicz). What was the function then of the politics of difference in the old U.S.? Over the next 15 years from 1995 it became increas­ingly and appallingly clear: to generate, reinforce, and morally justify xenopho­bia, racism, misogyny, homophobia, and widespread bigotry and suspi­cion, all vital for paving the road to that full Fascist takeover that was eventually achieved in 2011.

But while as noted above immigrants had been differentiated be­fore, the 30th Amendment way to do it was something new. This dif­ferentia­tion would be in the Constitution. It would aim to accomplish its ends by indirection, just as did Proposition 187 and the "anti‑illegitimacy" provi­sions of welfare "reform." And its being in the Constitution very quickly lead to some consequences that even some of its most ardent supporters had not envisioned.

For example, except for those few who were children of citizens, since now no non‑citizen immigrants already living in the country had any future prospective Constitutional protections, it opened the flood­gates for legislation enacting ever‑more punitive laws for dealing with illegal immi­grants. It also lead to the enactment of laws establishing "special" (and most precarious) status for persons who had been legal immigrants before enactment of the Amendment, but who could now never become citizens, even if they had lived in the country for 30 years.

Even before passage of the 30th Amendment, anti‑immigrant agita­tion had led to a variety of repressive measures. Back in 1995, New­ton Gingrich, Speaker of the House or no, had called for "sealing" the Mexican‑U.S. border with guards to prevent illegal immigration (Newsday). The implementation of that policy had led to the rapid ex­pansion of the U.S. Border Patrol, even in a time of sharp cutbacks in Federal govern­ment spending in almost every arena. The ever‑increas­ing strengthening of the Patrol eventually made it into a self‑contained armed force, fully equipped with heavy weapons and its own air force and navy.

But this move too had unintended consequences. The costs of bor­der guarding and imprisoning detainees mounted very quickly. And so, the next step was building a wall all along the Mexican border, a move certain Right‑Wing Reactionaries of the Patrick Buchanan stripe had been calling for years. The first short sections of a passive fence, equipped with infrared, electronic, and radio devices had gone up in 1994 (Nathan). By 1999, a 1500-mile fence was in place. But it was not absolutely impass­able. The Killer Fence would come later (see Chapter 15).

And now, for a contemporary view of the situation during the 1994 elec­tion campaign, we turn to an essay written by Dino Louis less a month before Election Day of that year. Crafted in a pop style, and thus obvi­ously intended for a popular audience, whether it was ever published is not known.

Pete Wilson's Politics: Illegal Immigration and Etc.

(by Dino Louis, 1994)

Illegal immigration and California politics. Pete Wilson is stoking and using anti‑illegal immi­gration fever to ride to re‑election (Maharidge). He was originally well behind Kathleen Brown, when he was being forced to run on his record and the state of the California economy. But now he is laying it on thick about how much illegal immigrants cost California, in education, health, welfare costs, and so one and so forth.

Well, those data are actually murky. There is simply no evidence that anyone comes here to get on welfare and get health care (both neg­atives), although they may come for the education. But they do pay taxes. Those with fake social security numbers even pay income taxes, through with­holding. And employers love illegal immigrants: they are cheap labor and make no trouble. It's notable that the 1986 law [Author's Note: which put penalties on employers hiring illegal immi­grants] has never been enforced and Pete Wilson is not screaming for its enforcement either.

Even Ben Wattenberg, certainly no liberal, citing facts published by the Urban Institute[2] said that: most illegals don't cross the Rio Grande[3] but simply overstay tourist visas; only a third of total immi­gration is ac­counted for by illegals; creating as well as "taking" them, immigrants have no net effect on the number of jobs; while the num­ber of foreign‑born peo­ple living here is at its highest level ever, the percent­age of resident foreign‑born people is just slightly more than half of what it was a century ago; total tax receipts paid to all govern­ments by immigrants outweigh the total amount spent by all govern­ments on them; immigrants, legal and illegal, use less welfare per capi­ta than native‑born Americans; foreign‑speaking present immigrants learn Eng­lish at about the same rate as their predecessors.

But the Right wants us to forget the facts, or, preferably, never know them. In fact, the Right goes out of its way to suppress the facts. It is just so useful for them to exploit the illegals politically. Limbaugh [4] was on the air a week ago complaining that any supporter of the new anti‑illegal immigrant Proposition is being labeled a racist.

Well, maybe they aren't racists. But anti‑immigration fever has long his­tory in California, usually with a racist basis: for example, against the Chinese and the Japanese, the latter prejudice of course lead­ing to the imprisonment of Ameri­can citizens of Japanese descent during World War II for no other reason than that they were of Japa­nese de­scent. In 1882, reflecting widely‑held attitudes, California had enacted the Exclu­sion Act, aimed expressly at Chinese immi­grants (originally brought in by white businessmen to provide cheap labor first for the gold mines and then for railway construction).

Facing an ever‑increasing influx of "Okies"[5] during the Great De­pres­sion, anti‑immigrant fever in California was directed against other whites. But still, they were whites who were "different." The whole campaign certainly feeds right into the Limbaugh view of the illegals and their sup­porters as people who want nothing but a hand‑out. That they just happen to be of Central American/Mexican Indian descent for the most part surely must be coincidental.

This anti‑immigrant message sounds very much like the one the little mustached man delivered 70 years ago. "Whatever's wrong with our 'country/state,' it's someone else's fault. It's those 'Jews/ furriners,' they're the trouble." Shakespeare once said something like, "the fault is not in the stars, but in ourselves." But people like Pete Wilson and Adolf Hitler don't look at themselves. Wilson's only been in politics in Califor­nia and Washington since 1966. But it's not his fault.

Watch this well. Despite his pledges to the contrary, Pete Wilson will likely be running for President in 1996[6]. This is the kind of cam­paign we have to look forward to: a message that stresses questions and prob­lems, rather than answers and solutions. Above all, it stresses the identifi­cation and labeling of an "enemy," not us, never us, either ex­plicitly or implicit­ly, someone to blame, an abstraction, and based on no data. And oh yes, just like he is doing in California, he'll run the whole thing on television: no legitimate questions; no legitimate an­swers. All neat and tidy. All modern Republican politics.

A Parthenon Pomeroy Diary Entry, February 3, 2002

We did it, we did it. We're finally going to keep the Spics out, and throw out the towel‑heads, and the slopes, and the slant‑eyes, and the West Indi­an cinder faces too. Wow! 15 years of hard work. We're going to save our country, our free­dom, our Amer­ican way of life. I can't believe it. But I'd better believe it. I do believe it. This is go­ing to fix things up all right. Jobs for everyone. Tax cuts, more tax cuts. No more little messy forin (sic) kids in the schools, speaking giberish (sic). This is what we need to get America to where it ought to be, to what it can be, to what it always was and will be again. Good bye, coons! Thanks, God, and thanks Pat, too.



Apple. R.W., "Media‑Wise Governor Runs a Smooth Race in Califor­nia," New York Times, Oct. 24, 1994, p. 1.

Berke, R.L., "A New Quest By Buchanan for President," The New York Times, March 21, 1995.

Buchanan, P., "Republican National Convention: Remarks," Washing­ton, DC: Republican National Committee, August 17, 1992.

Davidowicz, L.S., The War Against the Jews: 1933‑45, New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1975, Part I.

FAIR: "Official Petition to Place a Moratorium on Immigration to the Unit­ed States," Washington, DC: c. Summer, 1994.

Lind, M., "American by Invitation," The New Yorker, April 24, 1995, p. 107.

Maharidge, D., "California schemer," Mother Jones, Nov./Dec., 1995, p. 52.

Nathan, D., "El Paso Under Blockade," The Nation, Feb. 28, 1994, p. 268.

Newsday, Nation Briefs: "Gingrich: Seal Border," Feb. 6, 1995.

Page, S., "His Stetson's in the Ring," Newsday, Feb. 25, 1995.

Quindlen, A., "The Politics of Meanness," New York Times, Nov. 11, 1994.

Terry, S., and McGhee, B., California Leading, 1977‑1997, New Fran­cis­co, CA: The Press of the New California Historical Society, 2038.

The World Book Encyclopedia, "So‑Sz Volume 18," Chicago, IL: World Book‑Childcraft International, Inc., 1981, p. 689.

Wright, R., "Who's Really to Blame?" Time, Nov. 6, 1995, p. 33.

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