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    America as Idea

    For the first six years in America, we lived as illegals, but I did not know it. My father kept the fear of deportation to himself. His visa was approved by a bureaucratic mistake that he did not bother to correct. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan offered amnesty through the Immigration Reform and Control Act, and we became legal. To mark this freedom from having a pathway to citizenship, we moved out of our roach-infested apartment east of Queens and into a house on Long Island where the American dream awaited us. On Wednesday evening — I still remember, just two weeks in our new place — we returned from…

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    Pride before the Fall

    On the last night of the Republican convention, my father called and told me to vote for Trump. I was shocked then, so I wasn’t so shocked when I saw Trump win. My father still doles out unsolicited advice. Sometimes his advice irks me — how I should wear my hair — but this political advice was a shocker: “Vote for Trump. He is going to make America great again.” My father is a Korean-American immigrant. We flew in as illegals through JFK airport in 1980. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan granted amnesty for all immigrants who came before 1982. The timing was evidence of providence, my father says. Knowing…

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    Theology in American Politics

    Theology, a way of seeing the world with God as an agent, has always been fundamental to American politics. This is exhibited by in “God we trust” minted on our bills, “under God” in our pledge, and “God bless America,” the benediction ending every presidential speech, the priestly president blessing citizen-congregants. Yes, the jingles are of recent origin (“under God” was added in 1954), but they are surfacing of an undercurrent going back to the words that birthed this republic, “Endowed by their Creator.” Thomas Jefferson was no Christian — a fundamental deist who made sure his scions didn’t hold foolish notion of Jesus’ divinity by cutting out miracles from the gospels — but this was…