February 23rd, 2004
A scarifying possibility: we might someday have to deal with President Schwarzenegger.
(I don't have any objections to the general concept of allowing foreign-born US citizens to run for President: seems to me they can't be any worse than the home-grown candidates. But I soooo don't want to think about President Arnie.)
|Date:||February 23rd, 2004 04:16 am (UTC)|| |
Hey, he couldn't do much worse than Bush. Actually, I think my dog could run the country better than Bush, though.
|Date:||February 23rd, 2004 08:03 am (UTC)|| |
I dunno: your dog's kind of a spaz... (thinks)... yep, you're right, still preferable. :-)
I don't have any objections to the general concept of allowing foreign-born US citizens to run for President
I do. It would be extremely difficult for a foreign-born person to fully abandon his country of birth and treat his homeland as no different than any other country out there. For example: I was born, and grew up, in Michigan. This will affect me and my outlook on life until the day I die. I would be under an even greater handicap if I was born in Italy, South Africa, or Japan. I expect that other people are affected in different ways, but the effect is there in some degree or another.
|Date:||February 23rd, 2004 10:50 pm (UTC)|| |
...I was born, and grew up, in Michigan. This will affect me and my outlook on life until the day I die.
I believe you, but I have to say that I think "grew up... in" is the significant part of that statement, not "born... in".
If some theoretical US citizen is born outside the States but lives here from, say, the time they're two weeks old until the time they're of age to run for President, why should those first two weeks disqualify them? I've spent seven years living outside the USA and absorbing non-US culture and viewpoints, so I'm probably less American in outlook than that theoretical citizen, but because I had the good luck to be born inside the magic boundary, it doesn't matter where else I've lived or for how long: I can legally run for President, that citizen can't.
How about if we just imposed a US residency requirement of n years, where n is some reasonable number yet to be determined? Or maybe just a requirement that you have to have spent, say, two-thirds of your life as a US citizen/resident? That'd prevent recent immigrants from becoming President, but wouldn't rule out those who immigrated here at an early age and spent most of their lives as Americans.
In any event, it's not as if preferential treatment of particular foreign nations is unique to foreign-born citizens: lots of native-born US politicians treat Ireland (and the IRA) with kid gloves because they're of Irish extraction, and I'm sure that Joe Lieberman, as a Jewish candidate, had to face questions about his ability to be objective about Israel. The question has already come up with a Catholic president (Kennedy) and the Vatican City: in that case, the voters decided the candidate could be trusted and put him in office. Why not let the voters make the same decision in the case of foreign-born candidates?
Barring people not born in the US is easy. I'd like to also bar people who have untoward ties to other nations and/or religions -- but that's a much harder test. Determining who of non-native-born Americans is too tied to another nation is an equally hard test. If I had to go for a hard test, I'd leave the existing constitutional bar in place, and add a requirement that the person have no substantial influence from another country. Any way you slice it, it's discrimination in some flavor. Adding a discretionary aspect to the test brings the courts in in a presidential election, which is ugly for four reasons. 1) A court case to figure out whether a person is unduly influenced by another country would probably take longer than the usual declaration-of-candidacy/election cycle; 2) the courts would arguably be treading on another branch of government (the executive), which the courts are loath to do; 3) the courts would have to determine what the boundaries of undue foreign national influence is, likely to the detriment of controversial presidential candidates; and 4) which court would have jurisdiction? In answer to 4, if it's a district court (the lowest court in the federal court system), the potential appeals could stretch out even longer. If it's the Supreme Court, they'd likely have to displace another, potentially much more important case, from their already severely limited docket. (The Supreme Court hears about 80 cases a year, in a session running from October to June.)
All in all, the existing constitutional bar is the easiest to administer. If you have suggestions for other, sufficiently simple, means of barring unduly influenced candidates for president, I'm all ears. The only other sufficiently simple system I can think of offhand is to remove the bar entirely, and allow anyone, regardless of national origin, to run for president. I fear this result, for precisely the reasons that I said before.
The N year requirement has exactly the same problems as the no-foreign-born rule, it merely moves the bar. There's no evaluation of the candidate's allegiance to another country. If there was such a requirement, I'd want it to be in addition to the existing constitutional bar. (However, see my previous comment.)
"you might remember the last one this state sent"