We have more than enough self-interested jerks who were born in the United States running for office. Why do we need widen the eligibility to naturalized citizens?
"No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."
Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 of the United States Constitution
. . . . .
There are many reasons why the Founding Fathers are looked upon as the engineers of a great nation, but one of the most basic is also the most important — unlike our current batch of "statesmen," they weren't complete idiots.
In an age where most of the civilized world was led by a select group of inbred dynasties, the framers of the Constitution designed a seat of rule that was temporary, malleable to the fickle whims of the People. While most governments in Europe derived great pleasure in restricting the rights of their citizens, the Founders guaranteed freedom of religion, speech and assembly; freedoms you and I enjoy on a daily basis (until they're stripped in the name of "fighting terror," that is).
These freedoms and the Constitution were crafted with care by men wary of intrusive, unscrupulous government. They were fully aware of the dangers of a powerful federal body and sought to curb these powers in their new nation.
One of these limitations is the aforementioned clause prohibiting foreign-born men and women from holding the highest office in the land — the Presidency. By the way, this wasn't an amendment tacked on to ensure the ratification of a few holdout states; this is one of the most important elements of the creation of the federal government. Its central position in the Constitution backs that up.
The reasoning for this is both complex and simple. At the time, European powers routinely planted their citizens in other lands as a means to gain influence and for the benefit of their home country. In the case of Stanislaus II, the leaders of Russia, Prussia and Austria conspired to install a royal lineage in Poland, only to murder him and divide his territory.
All of this is irrelevant, though. The Founders designed a social contract limiting the perils of a leader with clear loyalties to another country. Obviously they knew what they were talking about — why would we want to change that? Most importantly, why would we as a nation want to be led by a foreigner?
Especially one like Arnold Schwarzenegger?
Lest you think the Republican Party has even an ounce of common sense, allow me to present Exhibit A: a faux-grassroots campaign to amend the Constitution so that Arnold Schwarzenegger can make a bid for the presidency in 2008. Well, to be fair, the campaign promotes an opportunity for all foreign-born citizens that meet certain requirements to run for president, but let's be realistic. This is all about Arnold.
As if a website and some poorly-directed television spots weren't enough, there are no less than four pieces of legislation lovingly dubbed "Arnold Bills" winding through the corridors on Capitol Hill, looking for the ratification they need to start the amendment process. Prominent politicians like Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and John McCain (R-Arizona) are part of the push to get this thing moving in time for Dubya's departure in four years. This is not a pipe dream.
In retaliation, radio personality and documentary producer Alex Jones has created a website exposing the myriad scandals surrounding Schwarzenegger. And while I definitely have a beef with the Governator, focusing all of our attention on him detracts from the main issue: foreigners have no business running our country.
I could care less whether the pony these fools are trying to tie themselves to is a pro-Nazi womanizer or someone with substance. Changing the Constitution so that people with direct attachments to foreign interests can run for the highest office in the land is patently absurd.
Why? Because once you get that kind of law in effect you never know who can garner the popular or electoral votes to run this country. Sure, it may be a blowhard celebrity like Schwarzenegger at first, but there are a lot of people with agendas out there that fly in the face of what our nation represents. Letting them settle here for a period of a decade or two so they can be allowed to change our way of life to something more to the liking of another country undermines the entire idea of what the United States is about.
Do I think there are foreign nationals with enough leadership qualities to make an admirable stab at the presidency? Absolutely. Everything I've heard about Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, a native of Canada, sounds like she'd be a commendable statesman. And as governor, she is.
But should she want to run for President? I don't care — tough shit. If I moved to New Zealand (I'm still waiting from someone at Free Republic to send me a ticket, by the way) I'd be a complete jackass to assume that I could eventually rule the entire nation. As much as I would adopt a new land as my own, I cannot imagine that they would accept someone who was born and lived in another land as their leader. It's just ridiculous.
More to the point — are we as a nation so totally bereft of intellect and natural charisma that we need to look to the showboating antics of an Austrian to lead us in the 21st century? Are we now so completely incapable of governing ourselves that we must look abroad for our next President?
We have more than enough self-interested assholes who were born in the United States running for office, many of whom are totally servile and more than willing to screw over their own constituents to make other nations happy. So again, why do we need help from the outside?
Constitutional amendments are supposed to weaken federal powers and strengthen the nation. It's how men and women of all races and creeds were granted the right to vote; it's how no man may serve as President for more than two terms. It's not about amendments banning flag-burning, abortion or gay marriage. These proposed amendments only further erode any sense of nationalism we as a people might have. They divide, not unify.
In the end, we can have a country beholden to no other, or we can continue down the path that's all but reversing the cautionary tale that is the Constitution. If that's the will of the simple-minded boobs that overpopulate this great land of ours, cult of celebrity will have won over genuine care for the United States, and "Demolition Man" will have become a prescient piece of cinema.
At the very least, can we all for the love of God band together and stop that?!
Canon Fodder is a weekly analysis of politics and society.
Canon Fodder is a bi-weekly analysis of politics and society.