In the United States, as a country of a majority population that is not indigenous to its North American soil, how do we reconcile nationalism and democracy? As a community of diverse ethnic origins and heritages, diverse faiths, and diverse periods of time resident within the county, can an existence of a nation-state community ever be achieved? Does the theory of the “melting pot” of an immigrant nation undo properly existing cultural lines of identity that are distinct, have merit and are centuries old?
We should encourage a community diverse in cultural identity that lives under the governing principles of American democracy: equality, freedom, and justice. In America, its people have freely chosen to reside under America’s governing principles. Citizenship and the rights of noncitizen residents transcend the diverse cultural identities of national origin. America’s governing principles, constitutions and laws create an equal right to personhood and identity that transcends governmental decision making based upon stereotypes and, especially pejorative, presumptions. The rule of law does not look to one’s culture, ethnicity or religion.
The governing principles of America are created, respected and maintained by an academically learned intelligentsia that exercises a just governance of the majority. An educated public and deference to individual merit and ability are the foundations of a democracy. A state cannot survive without an educated public, whether possessing one or many national identities.
In our world, only representative democracies are viable forms of government. Direct democracies defy the economy of scale required for complex decision making and regulation in the modern age and are not even attempted. Dictatorships, with the veil of legislative and military decision-making especially during the post-colonial period the 1900’s, can neither demand nor evoke a legally compliant population of self-governing individuals.
Without a public that understands the principles of America as a country from a young age of early education between grades 4 to 6, with reaffirmation in between both grades 7 to 9 and grades 10 to 12, our public will not be able to participate as citizens and residents as they engage in specialized careers of science, business and nonpublic policy fields. Thus, all college students should have a required course in the fundamentals of American government.
All in America bear the responsibility of treating all among us as free and equal, with rights and privileges of fairness and justice. Our world is complex, and all Americans must be sufficiently learned to debate and understand America and their own place in the world.
Lori Gayle Nuckolls, Esq.