- - Tuesday, December 29, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The warm and comfortable feeling of “home” is partly a state of mind, but it’s as tangible as the familiar squeak of a front door or the welcoming hug of a loved one. The man bereft of the sights and sounds of home is a restless soul, never knowing the affirmation of belonging in a place “where everybody knows your name.” For many Americans, the land of the free and the home of the brave doesn’t feel much like home anymore. Change is often hard to accept, and now more than ever familiarity is giving way to disorientation. Even the future, as Yogi Berra put it, ain’t what it used to be.

The polling organization Ipsos surveyed American attitudes and concluded that it had found “strong nativist tendencies in America.” Fifty-eight percent of Americans agree with the statement, “I don’t identify with what America has become.” That includes 45 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of Republicans. And 62 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of Democrats say, “These days I feel like a stranger in my own country.” Cultural disenfranchisement is becoming the norm.

The study labels the American who experiences a sense of disorientation a “neo-nativist,” the favoring of native inhabitants over new immigrants. Ipsos’ calling a substantial majority of Americans “neo-nativists” is not exactly a compliment. The pollsters credit the rise of neo-nativism with the success of Donald Trump in the Republican presidential primaries: “Simply put, Trump’s candidacy taps into a deep, visceral fear among many that America’s best days are behind it. The land of freedom, baseball and apple pie is no longer recognizable, the survey finds, and that ‘the other’ — sometimes the immigrant, sometimes the non-American and almost always the nonwhite — is to blame for these circumstances.”

Millions of voters who have rallied to Ben Carson’s candidacy would nod in agreement with those sentiments, except for the last part about blaming nonwhites for the nation’s ills. Ben Carson is black, and so what? What matters to his admirers is his partiality for the red, white and blue. They cheer when he says, “President Obama doesn’t get to decide whether America is a Judeo-Christian nation — we get to decide.” When Mr. Trump cries, “Let’s make America great again,” the cry goes to the heart, not to fear. Many liberals seem to think loving your country and cherishing the traditions that made the United States the envy of the world, and where a good part of the world wants to live, is something to be ashamed of. It’s not.

The liberal political establishment that dreams up “isms” with which to tar its opponents should meditate on this one: “neo-alienism.” It’s an accurate description of President Obama’s campaign to untether the nation from its heritage and replace it with a gauzy notion of undefined “hope and change.”

Donald Trump, Ben Carson and other Republican candidates urge voters to rediscover the spirit that lifted a nation of immigrants to make America exceptional, and this is what the “deep thinkers” call neo-nativism. But it’s actually pride in the exceptional nation. When the sentiment that “there’s no place like home” declines to the feeling that “there’s no place that’s home,” it’s a signal to Mr. Obama that his goal of fundamental transformation tracks over the line. There’s nothing sinister about taking pride in the nation’s founding principles. It’s what draws the tired, the poor and the wretched refuse to these shores. Risking everything to get here is what Jeb Bush might call the ultimate act of love.

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