THE BLOG

Arizona for Arizonans, Now!

06/30/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In 1856, a political movement issued a platform which matched its mission with its name: the American Party.

Its central manifesto was simple: "Americans must rule America; and to this end native-born citizens should be selected for all State, Federal and municipal offices of government employment, in preference to all others."

Another principle: "No state or territory can admit other than native-born citizens to the right of suffrage."

The party's legacy is clear. Politicians in Phoenix must now let Arizonans rule Arizona. All non-native citizens will be deported. What's good for America will be good for Arizona.

This law-and-order legislation will shrink the state's congressional delegation. Though congressional Democrats are native-born, some Republicans have to go; as patriotic Americans, they will understand.

Representative Trent Franks must say good-bye to his district of desert and exurbia and go back to Colorado. Senator John Kyl, in an amended Cornhusker kickback, will return to his native Nebraska. From the governor's office, Jan Brewer can give a dramatic farewell performance, worthy of her origins in Hollywood, California.

John McCain escapes the diaspora thanks to the foresight of the American Party platform, which ruled that "Persons born of American parents residing temporarily abroad, should be entitled to all the rights of native-born citizens." The state's senior senator was born in the Panama Canal Zone, where his father served in the Navy.

McCain's opponent in the August senatorial primary, J. D. Hayworth, will have to hightail back to High Point in North Carolina. A football hero in high school, he was a sports broadcaster in the Tar Heel State and Arizona, then became what Congressional Quarterly calls a "boisterous" congressman. Hayworth lost his seat in 2006 and is running as "a consistent conservative" against McCain.

Once election officials expunge the voter rolls, an authentically Arizonan electorate will emerge, a third of its former size. More than 65 percent of Grand Canyon State residents come from elsewhere. In the new Arizona-for-Arizonans, some will return to Mexico, some to New Mexico, New York, New Jersey and New Hampshire.

In 1856, the American Party opposed "the reckless and unwise policy of the present administration" and "a truckling subserviency" to "foreigners." Also called the Native American Party, it became known as the Know-Nothing Party because its members favored secrecy, saying "I know nothing" in response to questions. Its presidential candidate, ex-president Millard Fillmore, won 21 percent of the popular vote, but only the eight electoral votes of Maryland.

The historian Samuel Eliot Morison wrote that "Know-Nothingism was a flare-up of anti-Catholic and anti-foreign sentiments." He chose as the party's epitaph a statement from a Massachusetts senator, Rufus Choate: "Any thing more low, obscene and feculent the manifold heavings of history have not cast up."

In 1855, the party elected a Massachusetts governor, all 11 congressmen and most of the legislature, which immediately set up "Nunnery Committees" to investigate convents. The party's life was short. Before the 1860 presidential election, it collapsed, then vanished.

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