Natural Born GOP Presidential Candidates
“Birthers are crazy,” according to a recent Facebook post by one of my respected conservative friends, and they just need to “shut up” about Senators Cruz and Rubio and Governor Jindal being eligible for the presidency as “natural born citizens.”
To a certain extent, my friend is right. Cruz, Rubio, and Jindal are eligible. Because as another friend, attorney Monte Kuligowski, explained, the precedent has been set with the election of Barack Obama: a person born a US citizen, even with dual citizenship of another country, is eligible for the presidency. If Obama was eligible, those Republicans, too, are eligible.
Not all “birthers,” however, are crazy. While some “anti-birthers” (from both parties) are loath to admit it now, “birtherism” never centered on belief in Obama’s old claim of his Kenyan birth or the mystery of his birth certificate, but rather his dual citizenship at birth. The arguments that have recently surfaced regarding the three GOP contenders attest to that fact.
In fact, it wasn’t long ago that Charles Krauthammer, Tucker Carlson, and Bret Baier seemed to side with the “birthers” arguments -- mentioning both Cruz’s Canadian birth and the eligibility issue of dual citizenship -- although at neither time no one called them crazy. Others not as famous as the Fox talkers who hold a different opinion on that specific requirement of the Constitution are certainly not crazy either.
But the arguments against Obama’s constitutional eligibility, even when backed by compelling historical evidence of the framers’ intentions, were labeled “birther” crazy by the Democrat-media complex. The description stuck, and it crossed party lines.
Interestingly, at the same time, citizenship and immigration have increasingly become hot topics. Birth tourism is on the rise, and the number of children born here to illegal immigrants continues to soar. All of these children, according to the birthright citizenship practice, are considered US citizens at birth and therefore, under the precedent, “natural born” and eligible. And they also happen to be dual citizens.
For any dual citizen -- whether born on US soil to a foreign parent or on citizenship-granting foreign soil to a US parent -- it is the allegiance-defining events after the instant of birth that become the issue. Which citizenship did they assume as their own? Did they vote in foreign elections? Travel on a foreign passport? Collect scholarships intended for foreign students? In a time of war, which side are they on? What if the citizenship is with a country not friendly with the US? What about the candidate’s foreign relatives?
Naturalizing citizens may have to answer such questions. They are required to swear singular allegiance to the US and renounce other citizenships. And they are not eligible for the presidency. However, born dual citizens are never required to formally renounce anything, and may run, says the precedent, for president.
According to expert Dr. John Fonte, citizens who utilize more than one citizenship are guilty of “civic bigamy.” But others, such as Charles Lane of the Washington Post, see absolutely nothing wrong with the idea of a dual citizen president, presumably even a civic bigamist.
While dual citizens may take up residence in the White House, apparently they can’t work there -- not as a White House Fellow anyway. That prestigious program invites US citizens (which apparently includes naturalized citizens) to apply, but not dual citizens.
In addition, for other careers in government service, the State Department recognizes the security issues of dual citizenship. It also notes the inherent travel risks of dual nationality, explaining that the Cuban government, for example, does not recognize the US citizenship of children born in the US to Cuban parents and may detain and forcibly subject such individuals who enter Cuba to a “range of restrictions and obligations, including military service.”
It is ridiculous to imagine a President Cruz or Rubio meeting with Castro in Cuba and then being handcuffed and detained by Cuban authorities. But still, especially for those who seem to prefer foreign law or believe that international law trumps our Constitution, the thought should be unsettling. As should the idea that Anwar al-Awlaki, under the prevailing “natural born” interpretation, was just as eligible to run for president as is the child of a Chinese birth tourist or illegal alien.
Such extreme examples should bring attention to the rationale behind the “natural born” requirement -- the desire to ensure the undivided allegiance of the Commander-in-Chief. Proof of fulfillment of the Constitutional requirements along with diligent media vetting should provide voters with the information necessary to be the final judge. But as revealed with the Obama elections, we can hardly count on the Democrat-media complex to investigate a candidate with a D behind his or her name, especially one with perfect pant creases.
While we watch Obama do dangerous things -- things that not only could we never have imagined a US president would actually do, but that may also be impossible for a future president to someday undo -- some “birthers” might say “you should have listened.” But a thorough evaluation of the eligibility of Obama for the presidency really had less to do with his “natural born” status than his morphing biography, controversial associations, and lack of vetting by the media.
Obama, “natural born” or not, does seem alien to America. “Alien” was the word used by Dorothy Rabinowitz in her 2010 WSJ column to describe the “strangeness” “flowing” from the White House.
“It is a White House,” Rabinowitz wrote, “that has focused consistently on the sensitivities of the world community…a body of which the president of the United States frequently appears to view himself as a representative at large.”
Although such a “citizen of the world” view is celebrated by liberals and elites who also seem to consider patriotism “cornball,” most Americans still want a president who has always pledged allegiance to the US -- not to “whatever.” If Cruz, Rubio or Jindal have not consistently lived a singular allegiance, the inevitable and intense media scrutiny they will encounter will certainly reveal it.
“Birthers” needn’t “evolve” in their interpretation of the “natural born” requirement, but they must recognize the established precedent and use it to the advantage. The rabid defense waged for Obama’s eligibility actually did us all a favor, prequalifying some excellent Republican candidates with citizenship histories that could have been debatable.
Advice to Rubio, Cruz, and Jindal: don’t jump on the birther-bashing bandwagon. Respect the “birthers” views on the Constitution, and vow to ensure that immigration reform addresses birthright citizenship and assimilation. You need these patriots on your side. It would be crazy for any of you to call the “birthers” crazy.
Because really the only crazies, besides those who consistently vote Democrat no matter what, are conservatives who refuse to vote for the winner of the GOP nomination because they don't consider them eligible as natural born citizens.