I posted this to an E-list a few months ago (around the Reagan funeral), but it came again the context of a trade debate with some one. I got a lot of compliments on it, so I thought I'd post it here.
He (Reagan) used to talk about the letter he received from a man who said, ''You can go and live in Turkey, but you can't become Turkish. You can go and live in Japan, but you can't become Japanese. You can go to live in Germany or France, but you can't become German or French.'' But the man said that anyone from any corner of the world could come to America and become an American.
This is a priceless gift.
There are issues that need to be discussed when talking about cultural changes, spending on people who are not citizens and/or the impact of too many people who are not American living here. However, when it is all said and done, we should be proud of the fact that we have built a nation on principles that every soul on the planet is drawn to.
America is not a place, it is a state of mind. We can import people to a place where they can acquire that state of mind or we can export that state of mind to the world, but to pretend that there is something special and inviolate about a physical location between two oceans is to miss the point entirely.
Inside every human soul there is an American waiting to "breathe free". This is worth importing to and exporting out. And this is the essence of what Ronald Reagan stood for, regardless of whether he voted the right or wrong way on a specific piece of legislation.
Our goal as conservatives/libertarians, is to "manufacture Americans", and to do this, we need to expose as many people as possible to the "manufacturing" process. This is not done by arguing the finer points of ideology and politics, but by allowing/exposing as many people as possible to the opportunity to control their own lives. Our brains are the hardware, the Declaration of Independence is the "operating system" and the Constitution (to the degree that Judges haven't repealed it) is the "application suite".
If you care to stretch the metaphor further, go nuts.