Is ‘Sovereignty’ the New ‘Dirty’ Word?

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By Maria Fotopoulos

Maria is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow who focuses on the impacts of growth on biodiversity. Find her on Twitter | in | FB.

The writer’s views are her own.


January 21, 2011
Sovereignty also sovranty … 1 a. supreme power esp. over a body politic, b. freedom from external control: AUTONOMY, c. controlling influence 2 one that is sovereign; esp: an autonomous state Political commentator and humorist Bill Maher last week kicked off a new season of his “Real Time” on HBO and asked, in a rather snarky manner, what’s all this “sovereign nation stuff?” Among some folks, it seems that talking about U.S. sovereignty – holding it up as a guiding principle – somehow has negative implications. Basically, as a sovereign entity – an autonomous state – the United States determines the path to follow that is in the best interests of the nation. This isn’t some newfangled phenomenon. Hundreds of years of history, political strife and wars preceded the establishment of nation states. Additionally, as a sovereign country and a democracy, that means the voting citizens (theoretically) determine the path. In other words, the people rule. On the face of it, none of that seems like anything to get all snarky about. More pointedly, it’s not something to try to manipulate and redefine as something it’s not. Perhaps Maher and a few others mock the concept of sovereignty because it is referenced by the many who don’t support mass unchecked illegal immigration. Given how spot-on Maher is on most issues, the one he totally misses is the tremendous negative impact of illegal immigration. Much as I’ve tried to understand this alternate view of “come one, come all,” regardless of constructs such as laws, I’ve so far been completely unable to do so; it just doesn’t fit in a reality-based world. If it’s okay for anyone from anyplace in the world, through whatever means, to land on American soil and “stick” – seemingly Maher’s stance – then how can we by any measure of what defines a country – a nation – continue to call ourselves one? If we’re a nation, it’s fundamental that we be able to manage immigration for our best interests. What are the alternatives to doing that? A new America that is a new version of the Wild, Wild West? I’d say none of the alternatives are based in logic, rule of law or anything more than some emotional, knee-jerk reaction. I’m giving Maher the benefit of the doubt though that illegal immigration is the one issue he hasn’t really looked at in a reality-based manner. Let’s challenge him to take a look – a serious look – at this issue this season!

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