The Normativity of Political Transnationalism

by John Fonte

[John Fonte is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for American Common Culture at the Hudson Institute.]

Thanks to Peter for inviting me to participate. I am off to see Peter speak here in Washington at the Woman’s National Democratic Club in about thirty minutes and will comment more when I come back. But first let me put forward a very broad issue/question. It seems to me that what Peter is suggesting is the replacement of liberal democracy as it has been traditionally understood with a new type of political regime (whatever name one wants to use). The issue is both descriptive and normative. The future is hard to predict, so I’m more interested in the normative question: Is political transnationalism a good thing or a bad thing.

It seems to me that the American people have a Constitution, judicial institutions, and a democratic political system. Poltical Transnational (such as appealing to foreign courts) is not part of the institutional authority and accountability inherent in the meaning of the phrase: “We the People of the United States.” The transnationalism suggested by Peter is something “outside” of the “People of the United States” and “beyond” the Constitution and our democratic process. Therefore, it could be characterized as extra-constitutional, post-constitutional, or post-democratic. In effect, this transnationalism seeks to achieve results that could not necessarily be achieved through the regular process of American democracy. This clearly raises the core “regime” questions of what constitutes legitimate political authority and who is responsible to whom in a democracy.

I would be interested in hearing Peter’s thought’s (both normative and descriptive) on the issue of whether the polticial transnationalism that he describes will replace (ought to replace) liberal democracy, which has only existed within the institution of the liberal democratic nation-state

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