Asked, "What is an American?" many would answer, "An American is a citizen of the United States."
Yet, at the First Continental Congress in 1774, 15 years before the U.S. became a nation of 13 states, Patrick Henry rose to proclaim that, "British oppression has effaced the boundaries of the several colonies; the distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders are no more. I am not a Virginian, but an American."
Henry was saying — more than a dozen years before our constitutional republic was established — that America already existed as a nation, and he was her loyal son.
In an 1815 letter to Thomas Jefferson, long after both men had served as president, John Adams wrote:
"As to the history of the Revolution, my Ideas may be peculiar, perhaps Singular. What do We mean by the Revolution? The War? That was no part of the Revolution. It was only an Effect and Consequence of it. The Revolution was in the Minds of the People, and this was effected, from 1760 to 1775, in the course of fifteen Years before a drop of blood was drawn at Lexington."
Adams was saying that America was conceived and, as an embryonic nation, grew within the hearts of the peoples of the 13 colonies, two to three decades before the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.
In short, our country came to be before our republic came to be, and long before what we today call "our democracy" came to be. A country is different from, and more than, the political system that it adopts.
France was France all through the Bourbon dynasty, the Revolution of 1789, the creation of the First Republic, the Reign of Terror, Napoleon's First Empire and the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy — all the way to the creation of the Fifth Republic by President Charles de Gaulle.
And beneath the carapace of the USSR, the heart of Mother Russia continued to beat. Rightly, during the Cold War, we regarded Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria as "captive nations" and captive peoples.
The point: Neither the regime nor the political system imposed, nor some abstract idea, is the country that predates them and has first claim upon the loyalty of its sons and daughters.
In his famous toast, American naval hero Stephen Decatur declared: "Our country! ... May she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong!"
The crisis today for those who incessantly proclaim, "Our democracy is in danger," is that millions of patriots are coming to see our incumbent regime, "our democracy," as faithless and failing in its foremost duty — to protect and defend our country and countrymen from enemies foreign and domestic.
Forced constantly by the establishment to choose between them, patriotic Americans may one day come to choose, as did their fathers, the country they love over the crown that rules them.
The Biden regime that currently rules us has allowed 3 million migrants to invade our country in two years. These illegals continue to break our laws and cross our border at a rate of 250,000 a month.
Among them are terrorists, robbers, rapists, murderers, cartelists and child molesters. The Biden regime has abdicated its duty to halt the invasion that is changing the ethnic, racial, religious, social and political character and composition of our American family without the consent of the American people, into whose national home these intruders are breaking with impunity.
President Joe Biden is assuring that the future of the nation will be determined by millions of people who have in common only that they broke our laws to get into our country. Vice President Kamala Harris smugly dismisses demands to address the crisis by saying America's southern border is "secure."
With this invasion has come a flood of the narcotic fentanyl, which last year took the lives of 100,000 Americans, a number equal to all the U.S. war dead in years of fighting in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Under the Biden party's policy of softness on crime and indulgence of the criminal class, assaults, robberies, carjackings and "mass shootings," where four victims are killed or wounded in each episode, have surged in U.S. cities.
With America's currency and economy in his custody, Biden has, in 18 months, run up inflation, that cancer of America's currency, to 8%, run up the national debt to where it far exceeds the gross national product, and crashed the stock market, wiping out trillions in wealth.
"The pandemic is over," Biden told "60 Minutes" in September, a month when more than 400 Americans were dying of COVID-19 every day, a death rate higher than World War II and equal to the bloodiest war in U.S. history, the Civil War of 1861-1865.
The custodians of "our democracy" are failing in the most fundamental of duties of any political system — to protect and defend the people. No failed regime can justify its permanence by claiming some inherent superiority.
(Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of "Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.")