Adlai Stevenson must be turning over in his grave, about now… being ignorant of any history beyond 35 years ago, or so, you probably don’t remember who that is, but a long time ago one Democratic presidential candidate once said: “In America, anybody can be president. That’s one of the risks you take.”
Little did he know… these days, when you announce that you’re running for President you better have your pedigree in strict order. Because all your running mates are gonna bring out the Long Knives and attempt to castrate you, if you don’t.
Rand Paul, that great Constitutional re-writer, claims that Ted Cruz is not eligible to be President because both of his parents were not American citizens. And Donald Trump, the current Republican front-runner, says lots of people are saying that – which makes it damn near Gospel in some circles. Just ask John McCain… (who is a non-hero Loser, according to Trump)… he thinks the same thing, even though his own credentials caused close scrutiny last time around, because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone while his father was serving in the military there (presumably as a hero, since he wasn’t captured as a POW in any war.) And Ann Coulter, Professional Republican Pundit, also thinks so – but then, Ann just likes to castrate male candidates and any set of testicles will do.
Most scholars interpreting Constitutional intentions will agree that the phrase “natural born Citizen” has a specific meaning, but that’s about as far as they are willing to go, unless they are specifically forced to commit themselves, like in a court of law under a stack of bibles and behind a sealed record.
But completely off the record, some are willing to pro-offer (anonymously, of course) that the phrase generally means any person who was a U.S. citizen at the time of birth, who didn’t need to undergo a naturalization proceeding at some time.
Or in other words, if you didn’t have to pass a test, you probably CAN be President. Just prove you are at least thirty-five years of age, and have been a resident somewhere in the United States for at least 14 years, and you should be good to go… whether you are a raving lunatic, a complete imbecile, or a practicing sado-masochist is completely beside the point.
But Strict Constructionists see it quite differently, it goes without saying… goes without saying… goes without saying…
Back in 1790, the US Naturalization Law once provided that “the children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens: Provided, That the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States . . .”
And that opens a whole different can of worms, because in 1790 (and a whole long time afterwards) women were not allowed to vote, and therefore were ineligible to become President… and as Very Strict Constructionists see it, they still shouldn’t be… allowed to vote, or to be considered as citizens for that matter [nor as fathers]. None of this new-fangled stuff equates to being real law, for truly Radical Republicans.
Goldwater, Romney, McCain, Obama… they’re all illegitimate candidates for the Highest Office in the Land, by Ultra-Conservative standards. Hell, by their lights, eight of the first nine Presidents – from President George Washington through William Henry Harrison (excluding Martin Van Buren) – were all mere interlopers, because each of them were born as British Subjects in Great Britain prior to there even being a US Constitution. So being born in a Canadian hospital (Cruz), or having two parents who weren’t even American citizens (Rubio) is just another drop-in-the-quibblebucket for the Tea Party crowd.
[Which, by-the-way, should not be confused with any REAL United States political party.]
So, who IS eligible to become President of the United States? What to do, what to do? Well, let’s consider two so far completely un-considered possibilities:
Whenever an unknown body is discovered, it is commonly referred to as being a ‘John Doe’, right? I therefore advocate that all Republican candidates for the Oval Office hereafter be referred to as “John Birthers”, until such time as their bona fides can be fully checked by the US Supreme Court, and approved of by at least a 5-4 ruling. (A complete psychiatric examination might also be in order at that time.)
Secondly, the term “natural born Citizen” should henceforth be taken at face value. Anyone who has been born as a Breech Birth, via Caesarean Section or other Induced Labor, or who has been born prematurely, i.e. under nine months of pregnancy, should be ineligible to hold the Office of the Presidency due to the fact that their birth was NOT NATURAL.
We can all then move on to bigger & better things to argue about, like whether un-naturally born people get to be citizens at all, whether we should label such people as Illegitimate Non-Citizens, and whether to fence them in, or out…