I think John Fonte is onto something with his “civ-con” idea. Conservatives may have differing views on immigration, yet there is a cluster of issues–eg. opposition to multiculturalism, affirming the primacy of English, emphasis on the importance of assimilation, subordinating international law to American constitutional law, and opposition to affirmative action–on which conservatives and the broader public agree. If politicians begin to buy into Fonte’s package of “civ-con” issues–and present it, not as anti-immigrant or anti-minority, but as positive and inclusive way to build a united America in which people from all groups find something in common, then it’s not inconceivable that at least some Republicans might endorse the anti-preference petition drives that Ward Connerly will be launching in several states in 2008. A line about the primacy of English from one of the speeches at the conservative summit (was it Romney?) seemed to get unusually large applause. A belief in America’s civic culture is still strong with the public, and politicians could win by leaving behind the stale rhetoric of “diversity” and recapturing the language of a shared American experience. A new emphasis on what Americans hold in common could and should give politicians a way to include the end of preferences in a positive program to build and protect our shared American identity.