Political Hay

The Treason Temptation

In their growing disdain for their own country Democrats increasingly rely on foreign opinion -- and think this won't cost them politically.

By 3.17.04

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Democrats bristle at the suggestion that they are out of touch with mainstream America. But their rhetorical reliance on opinion from outside the country -- whether it is John Kerry citing support from foreign leaders or Democratic activists citing Scandinavian jurisprudence as they try to topple marriage -- proves it. The more they alienate themselves from mainstream America, the more they rely on foreign cultural currents to push their agenda.

Modern Democrats are peculiar in American political history in that they actually brag about non-American support. This is a political boast the Founding Fathers and early Federalists would find puzzling if not shocking. Independence from foreign opinion and influence is one of the founding marks of America. The Federalist Papers contain chapters entitled "Concerning Dangers From Foreign Force and Influence." John Kerry's foreign-leaders-are-pulling-for-me talk would sound to the American founders like the beginnings of treason.

Democrats loudly emphasize their foreign support, then wonder why they are caricatured as the party that tends toward anti-Americanism. After it turns out that an accused traitor, Susan Lindauer, was a serial employee for Democrats -- hopping from the office of Rep. Peter Defazio to Rep. Ron Wyden's to Senator Carol Moseley Braun's to Rep. Zoe Lofgren's -- one would think the Democrats might show some reluctance to hawk foreign endorsements. But they don't. They consider them useful political props.

They rush to defend the veracity of Kerry's declaration of foreign support, as if the political problem is that it might be false when the real political problem is that it is true. Dem diplomat Richard Holbrooke's defense of Kerry -- "In the last six or seven months, I've been in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe. I've met with leaders in all of those regions, and they have overwhelmingly -- not unanimously but overwhelmingly -- said that they hope that there's a change in leadership" -- supplies Americans with an urgent reason not to vote for Kerry. He is more in tune with the views of foreign leaders than with mainstream America.

Bill Clinton, who has also discovered some Kerry endorsements amongst foreign leaders during his globe-trotting, was one of the pioneers of favorable foreign opinion as a Democratic political prop. When Clinton felt estranged from mainstream American opinion during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he relied on foreign opinion in support of him for solace. Clinton's surrogates would stress that foreign leaders supported Clinton and didn't care about his scandals. Clinton's surrogates treated this as argument-ending proof against impeachment.

The Democrats have twisted Thomas Jefferson's "decent respect for the opinions of mankind" into a respect for world opinion whenever it advances indecency. Since mainstream American opinion often cuts against their agenda, they have to turn to world opinion to advance it. This is not only a political tactic but an increasingly popular legal one for them, as they advance their agenda through the courts, often invoking foreign court rulings and foreign conventions to buttress their cases.

Just as Democratic politicians are telling the American people to take their political cue from foreign politicians, so Democratic-appointed judges like Stephen Breyer (and of course Republican-appointed ones like Sandra Day O'Connor) are encouraging their colleagues to take their cue from foreign judges. The Lawrence decision, which laid the groundwork for same-sex marriage, was based in part on rulings by the European Court of Human Rights.

"Our Constitution and how it fits into the governing documents of other nations, I think, will be a challenge for the next generations," said Breyer. In the Supreme Court's Grutter v. Bollinger decision, a case involving racial preferences, Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg used the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which calls for "special and concrete measures to ensure the adequate development and protection of certain racial groups," to shape their decision in favor of racial spoils.

"Our island or lone ranger mentality is beginning to change," Ginsburg said in a speech to the American Constitution Society, explaining the Supreme Court's trend toward relying on foreign jurisprudence. Justices, she said, "are becoming more open to comparative and international law perspectives."

Do Americans want their elections shaped by Spanish socialists and their jurisprudence shaped by Danish judges? Living in their own dream world, John Kerry and his invisible internationalist campaign co-chairmen must think they do.

George Neumayr is managing editor of The American Spectator.

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author of No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.