This post originally appeared on the RenounceUScitizenship blog.
“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”
― Thomas Jefferson
“Let’s be clear about something. A person who decides to give up his US citizenship is not guilty of disloyalty to America; quite the opposite. He could very well be more loyal to American principles than the regime is willing to tolerate.
It also does not mean that he is giving up hope for liberty; he may have great hope for liberty, in a different way and in a different place.
In any case, the rise of emigration, expatriation, and citizenship renunciation is a trend that is not going away. It is rising and will get more significant. In some ways, it is completely expected. When regimes overcontrol, overtax, overregulate, they gnaw at the innate sense of the right to be free. When this gets worse and worse, people tend to look around for better environments.”
“… I join in your sorrow. My feelings have been evolving throughout the last few months. I will become, and stay, compliant at this point because all of my immediate family is in the US and I have no children. I still harbour (Cdn spelling!!) a faint thought of moving back to the US if my spouse dies and I have no means of caring for myself. I still love the principles I grew to believe in and remember every time I see an American flag.
But in the last few weeks especially, as I watch in mounting grief and horror at the criminally insane new laws being passed that are slowly turning every American on the planet into a criminal, and new tax concerns about the possibility of my innocent spouse coming under IRS scrutiny due to the intertwining of our financial resources, I have for the first time considered the possibility of renouncing.
This growing spider-web of US government power, enhanced by the intrusion of worldwide electronic surveillance which itself started out based on communications with so much promise for enhancing people-to-people interactions, is creating the dream of every tyrant – truly global power over every human on earth. And by the country that STILL claims to be the freest nation on earth. 1984 and Animal Farm are happening. Words have come to mean the exact opposite of their original definitions. And the US has become a government of men, not laws, where your future depends on the whims of a nobody in an obscure IRS office in the dust bowl somewhere. And where, most ironic of all, virtually any freedom fighter in any other country defends American principles of individual liberty with more passion and integrity than any elected American official who has pledged to uphold the Constitution of the United States. People still yearn to breathe free – but not in America.”
Many U.S. citizens feel they are forced to renounce their U.S. citizenship. This is because of the policies (FATCA, Jack Boot IRS enforcement, endless reporting requirements) of the Obama administration. Americans are a patriotic people. Many regard renunciation as a moral issue. How can one both be an American Patriot and renounce U.S. citizenship? Isn’t renunciation an expression of disloyalty?
I recently came across the following blog post. It is a dialogue between Peter and Jim in Houston. The issue is whether renunciation of U.S. citizenship indicates a lack of patriotism and possibly an act of cowardice. Jim has learned that Peter has relinquished his U.S. citizenship. You can see the complete dialogue here. The crux of the debate is revealed in this exchange:
Sorry, but your explanation still doesn’t fly. I am ashamed of the current government and am doing everything I can to ensure it doesn’t get four more years; however, I will NEVER abandon my country, only fight all the harder to correct it.
P. W. Dunn wrote:
Mr. Jim in Houston:
I didn’t abandon my country. It criminalized me and therefore my country abandoned me.”
There are many who believe that to renounce U.S. citizenship is unpatriotic. It is unclear what they mean – if they even know themselves. What is a patriot? What is patriotism? We could start with the dictionary.
According to askoxford.com a patriot is one who:
“a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors:”
According to askoxford.com patriotism is:
“the quality of being patriotic; vigorous support for one’s country:”
What does it mean to support your country? What is a country? The country is different from the government. The country is different from its geography. The government and geography can have an impact on the country. But, they are not the country. The country is the embodiment of the hopes, dreams, moral aspirations and values of its people. I am reminded of a great line from the Movie “October Sky” – where the main character points out that America was not built from steel, but was built from “dreams”.
In 2004 at the Democratic convention in Boston, Barack Obama delivered the speech that was the beginning of his presidential campaign. (The Obama administration is the antithesis of the values embodied in this speech.) The United States in a geographic and political sense will continue to exist long after Barack Obama (unless he is reelected) is gone. The question is whether the values that the country was founded on, and which are expressed in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, can survive the current political parties (both of which have abandoned the ideals of freedom and democracy).
“Patriotism” is not loyalty to the government. Patriotism is loyalty to the founding moral principles – freedom and democracy – upon which the constitution of the country was founded.
In 1776 a group of people in Massachusetts decided that their loyalties were to a a set of principles of what a government should be. King George was not living up to these principles. The result of this was the American Revolution – the rest is history – a history of early America written by the “victors”.
Barack Obama referred to the Declaration of Independence.
“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness”
It appears that the Government of United States has become destructive to the principles of freedom and democracy upon which it was founded. In fact it is treating its citizens at least as badly as King George was treating the colonies. In the same way that the pigs in Orwell’s “Animal Farm” evolved into humans, the U.S. government has become every bit as despotic as King George. The final paragraph of “Animal Farm” reads as follows:
“Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
How does the U.S. government differ from King George? Patriotism (whether accompanied with renunciation or not) requires a consideration of this!
The American revolution was an example of a group of British Subjects, instituting a new government. They saw themselves as being patriotic to a cause, to an ideal. They probably saw their rejection of British rule as an act of patriotism. In fact, they were referred to as Patriots. Peter could be seen as the Paul Revere of 2011.
Of course not all residents of Massachusetts accepted that “Paul Revere” was a Patriot. These were the Loyalists. Historians estimate that 20% – 40% (and I suspect this is low) were loyal to King George. There were many different kinds of Loyalists. In some cases to be a Loyalist required extreme courage. (Here is an interesting online book about the Loyalists.) In general, Loyalists were no more or less courageous than Patriots. Loyalists were loyal to King George, regardless of what King George was doing. They might have disagreed with King George – but said: I will never abandon my King – I will work hard to influence him and change his policy. Those who thought this way were the “Jims of Houston” of the day. They were “Loyalists”.
The debate between Peter and Jim of Houston is the same debate (once again there is no love lost) between the Patriots and Loyalists of the the mid 1700s. Each side commanded lots of support. Eventually the Patriots won and the Loyalists lost. Many of the Loyalists move to Canada. The Patriots stayed in the U.S. to build the country.
In the 1700s, the Patriots stayed in the U.S. and the Loyalists moved to Canada. In 2011, the Patriots are moving to Canada and the Loyalists are staying in the U.S. Why the change? Here is my guess:
In the 1700s, the U.S. had a great future and was a growing country with a fantastic future. Hence, the Patriots stayed.
In the 2000s, the U.S. is in serious trouble and in decline. FATCA is an act of political suicide. The U.S. has built a virtual Berlin Wall to keep its Citizens in.
The free men – the Patriots are leaving. They are documenting their leaving by renouncing their U.S. citizenship!
By relinquishing his U.S. citizenship Peter is an American Patriot in the spirit of Paul Revere.
Final thought: It has been convenient for patriotic U.S. historians to designate the “Massachusetts freedom fighters” as “Patriots”. I suspect the “Loyalists” of the day viewed themselves as the true patriots. As has been observed:
“One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist”.
For a non-American perspective on this period in history see: http://www.redcoat.me.uk/
When it comes to war, the victors get to write the history!
P.S. Many expats feel that the U.S. government is behaving like “Big Brother” in 1984. Orwell’s 1984 it is one of the great books of all time. I read it every ten years and see something different in it every time. I am mentioning this because I just came across a free online copy of George Orwell’s 1984 – enjoy.