John Fonte

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John Fonte has been, since 1999, Director, Center for American Common Culture and Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, specializing in "interplay of national identity, the assimilation of immigrants, global organizations, and the future of American liberal democracy." He is also a member of the Committee for the Present Danger; and a contributing expert at the Ariel Center for Policy Research.

As a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, he directed the Committee to Review National Standards under the chairmanship of Lynne Cheney. He also served as a senior researcher at the U.S. Department of Education and a program administrator at the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). He is currently on the Board of the American Council for Trustees and Alumni (ACTA).

He served as principal advisor for CIVITAS: A Framework for Civic Education funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, and he was appointed by the general editor to write the chapter on The Federalist Papers. He has taught at the higher education and secondary school levels. [1]

Dual citizenship

He has spoken and written extensively on dual citizenship, which he considers bad for the U.S. Michael Barone argued that "dual citizenship is a threat to the American tradition of patriotic assimilation" as well as possibly undermine American sovereignty[2] while others have argued that the effects are less pernicious.

I participated today in a panel at the Hudson Institute on dual citizenship. The subject was Hudson's John Fonte's paper lamenting dual citizenship and urging penalties for U.S. citizens who have foreign citizenship and exercise that citizenship by voting or running for office in foreign elections.

Sovereignty and global governance

In a article for Family Security Matters, he wrote of his concern about how the "governing center-Left has internalized global governance and is prepared to promote it, in some form at least, the governing center-right has for the most part failed to engage on the issue.... The main problem for the governing center-Right could be described as one of underdeveloped conceptualization." He saw five conceptual problems:[3]

  1. "The Fukuyama Paradigm. The first obstacle is that the governing center-right has internalized the core elements of the Fukuyama paradigm.[4] In the main, the bulk of the center-right would agree with Fukuyama that the core principles of liberal democracy face no serious rival with a universal appeal in the world today."
  2. "Viewing radical Islam as the sole overarching threat. and anti-radical Islamists in general will have to fight on two ideological fronts. They will have to wage major ideological (and increasingly, as Andrew McCarthy has pointed out, lawfare) battles with both the radical Islamists and a significant contingent of Western anti-anti-radical Islamists (the John Espositos, the Juan Coles, the ACLUs, Amnesty Internationals, etc.), who are essentially transnational progressives."
  3. "The Kagan narrative. In his new book The Return of History and the End of Dreams and in a long New Republic article ("The End of the End of History") Robert Kagan alters the core Fukuyama narrative by arguing that "autocracy" has been revived (both in theory and practice) during the past decade in China and Russia. What this means according to Kagan is that the more than two-hundred-year-old conflict between liberal democracy and autocracy has been renewed and will become the main event of the 21st century."
  4. Corporate elite and libertarian ambiguity. Another obstacle to clear thinking on global governance is that elements of the broader center-Right coalition, specifically many corporate leaders and some libertarians, are ambivalent about the nation-state and transnationalism. Many American business leaders have internalized the core global governance arguments. They take great pains to tell us that American brand-name businesses are not "American." Jeff Seabright, vice president of Coca Cola, emphatically stated: "We are not an American company." A leading Colgate-Palmolive executive declared, "There is no mindset that puts this country (the USA) first." Samuel Huntington describes these American business leaders as "economic transnationals" who identify more with their colleagues among the global elites than with their fellow citizens. In 2003 the annual World Economic Forum in Davos launched its Global Governance Initiative (GGI). A team of forty experts is the core of the project. They are almost all left-of-center globalists like Strobe Talbott, Mary Robinson (who organized the UN Durban conference), John Ruggie (Kofi Annan's former deputy), Tim Wirth (President of UN Foundation), and the Canadian Maurice Strong (organizer of UN Rio Earth Summit, the precursor to the Kyoto Treaty). The American business leaders who have internalized the global governance project are not, of course, ideologues, but they could be described as "transnational pragmatists" and as essentially "post-Americans." For some (clearly not all) libertarians opposition to the "state," even the constitutional democratic nation-state leads to an affinity to transnational (as opposed to international) politics. Indeed, on Cato's website, adjunct scholar Arnold Kling (formerly senior economist at Freddie Mac and staff economist at the Federal Reserve) "proposes" an "alternative ideology" that "might be called transnational libertarianism."
  5. "Ellis Island Nostalgia and the failure to embrace the essentials of the Huntington critique of de-nationalized elites. Large-scale immigration to the United States in the 21st century is occurring under entirely different circumstances than existed during the last great wave of immigration at the beginning of the 20th century. Today, besides the technological (inexpensive travel, instant communications), geographic (many immigrants coming from a single contiguous country), and linguistic (predominance of Spanish as opposed to many tongues) differences, the ideological landscape among the American elite has been totally altered. One hundred years ago elites unapologetically promoted "Americanization."

Writing in National Review, he disagreed with Harold Koh about Koh's beliefs, in a 2004 article by Koh, in The American Prospect about the transnational system:

Transnational legal process encompasses the interactions of public and private actors — nation states, corporations, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations — in a variety of forums, to make, interpret, enforce, and ultimately internalize rules of international law. In my view, it is the key to understanding why nations obey international law. Under this view, those seeking to create and embed certain human rights principles into international and domestic law should trigger transnational interactions, which generate legal interpretations, which can in turn be internalized into the domestic law of even resistant nation-states.[5]

Fonte did not include Koh's words immediately before the quote:

We should use “transnational legal process” to press our government to put forward the best face of American exceptionalism, the activist face that promotes human rights and the rule of law.

Fonte goes on to say this transnational process affects U.S. courts and legislation, but never states that Koh believes that it should be controlling, while Koh actually suggested its preemptive use by the U.S. Fonte suggests such unelected interests would be a strong influence, and thus undemocratic. Not all domestic interest groups are elected, however, and still influence the U.S. process.


  • M.A. and B.A. in History from the University of Arizona
  • Ph.D. in World History from the University of Chicago, and his M.A. and B.A. in History from the University of Arizona.


  1. Biographical Highlights, Hudson Institute
  2. Michael Barone. Dual citizenship, U.S. News & World Report, November 30, 2005. Retrieved on 2009-11-19.
  3. John Fonte (18 June 2008), Global Governance vs. the Liberal Democratic Nation State, Family Security Matters
  4. Francis Fukuyama (1992), The End of History and the Last Man, Free Press, ISBN 0029109752
  5. Harold Hongju Koh (20 September 2004), "On America's Double Standard: The good and bad faces of exceptionalism.", American Prospect