Monday, January 08, 2007
The Constitution, second-class citizenship, and the 2008 election
Loyal readers know of some of my various discontents with the Constitution. I have, for obvious reasons, dwelt on what I think are the most important deficiencies, including our feeling stuck with a manifestly incompetent and dangerous president for another 742 days. But let me change that broken record and point to another problematic feature of the Constitution that may turn out to have significant consequences for the upcoming election: This is the limitation of eligitibility for the presidency to "natural born" citizens. Harvard's Randall Kennedy and Robert Post, now at Yale, each selected this clause as the "stupidest" provision of the Constitution in 1998 (citations on request). Among other things, it stands for the proposition that we differentiate between "first-class" citizens, i.e., those eligible to serve as President, and "second-class" ones. In my book, I discuss other "second-class citizenship" clauses, including age limitations service in the House, Senate, and White House, and, more importantly, practically speaking, durational requirements that one be a citizen for seven and nine years before being eligible to serve in the House or Senate, respectively. This means, obviously, that a newly naturalized citizen is estopped from running for national office for quite a few years.
Here, here. The provision implies that Americans are too stupid to decide whether or not they want a foreign born a their next president.
Don't push for this, Sandy. That's going too far. If they do this, I'll have no excuse any more, and I might have to cut my hair and buy a suit and actually do sump'tin to help this country out....
@hls: As a matter of Purity of Essence, I am genuinely impressed by the Professor's willingness to put forth ideas which clearly work against his ostensible party affiliations. Indeed this thread is gravy to the Republicans who would like to use AS the way they used Reagan...especially as AS has vastly more star power and name recognition than Bonzo's buddy ever did. People will know AS for his films long after the so-called "Reagan Revolution" is long forgotten.
It is a sad day when Schwarzenegger script reading Republican is type cast on the marquee as 'liberal'. He was in the news around his innaugural as planning to cancel COLA increases to welfare recipients, as well as remove benefits for families of parttime workers.
The day after his publicity stunt about desiring to end greenhouse gas emissions, instead he began cheerleading for the global pollutions credits option; in otherwords, keep adding the greenhouse gases, just NIMBY; trouble is: when it comes to global climate change, Everywhere is in the same back yard; one more specious ploy from Schwarzenegger.
I like the full lifetime requirement for citizenship of the highest office holder in the US.
If we want to explore a tangent about US xenophobism, how about the ageold discussion Sam Hayakawa sponsored, that famed semanticist, regarding English as the only language. Having background in many branches of linguistics, I appreciate the merits of that as a core US value, too.
The labels 'liberal' and conservative are, perhaps worn.
Irrespective my customary dissent, though, I like SLevinson's energetic pursuit of new ways to interpret who we are and what kept us in our channels to arrive to this juncture.
Count me among those who think Truman much worse a president than Bush-2. However, if we were to look at how 2 recent US presidents, including the current one, have implemented the vice presidency as a kind of CEO of POTUS, maybe Prof. Levinson and I might have more grounds on which to agree.
"I like the full lifetime requirement for citizenship of the highest office holder in the US."
Any reasons why? Or just, because?
Arne for Prez. Just so I can call him preznit or whatever his favorite term is.
First things first, there: Amend the constitution. If it pleases you, you can simultaneously also change the official title to "preznit" and then I'll have to find another term for the likes od Dubya and his ilk....
Indeed this thread is gravy to the Republicans who would like to use AS the way they used Reagan...especially as AS has vastly more star power and name recognition than Bonzo's buddy ever did....
Well ... the United States isn't California, so I'm not quite sure that the Red State Republicans would vote in the first Preznit to have his schlong plastered all over the Internets for all (who actually care to) to see....
But let me change that broken record and point to another problematic feature of the Constitution that may turn out to have significant consequences for the upcoming election: This is the limitation of eligitibility for the presidency to "natural born" citizens...This makes such luminaries (sic) as Henry Kissinger, Madeline Albright, Ted Koppel, Jerry Springer, [Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jennifer Granholm] ineligible to aspire to the White House.
This lineup of potential presidential candidates is perhaps the best argument you could have made in favor this otherwise uselessly xenophobic constitutional provision.
Jerry Springer, for Heaven's sake?
By almost all accounts, Springer is in fact a smart person (who happens to be a political liberal). A former mayor of
Cincinatti, he apparently gave serious thought to running for governor of Ohio. To be sure, I do not think this qualifies him to be a serious candidate for the presidency, but that judgment should be independent of the fact that he was, I believe, born in London (as was Ted Koppel).
"Bart" DePalma sez:
Jerry Springer, for Heaven's sake?
At least he's a lawyer. What did you folks put up (and whose butt do you keep kissing)? Dubya. 'Nuff said if we're talking object lessons.....
"By any account, he has proven a competent and provocative governor of our nation's largest state."
By any account? How much time have you spent in California? He's popular and he gets away with a hell of a lot, but there are plenty of people who still don't think he's particularly smart or serious, so you must not have heard their account.
But he's unquestionably been very competent at getting people to forget about most of his campaign promises, and about his past opposition to social and environmental programs that he embraced at the last minute.
Why not turn the process on it's head? Anyone can be president, but only natural born citizens can vote. Add to that that only natural born citizens can contribute to a political campaign (thus removing majority foreign owned corps).
Personally, I cannot see the difference between a foreign born candidate and one supported (one who decides to receive) by foreign interests.
Maybe a candidate who receives foreign support is more suspect. It is almost a declared interest.
I like the provision. Allowing foreigners to assimilate is one thing, but you are not truly American unless you are born and bred here. I do not want Jacques Chirac acquiring American citizenship and running for President here. Only that broad class of citizens likelier to be socialized and educated here should be able to run for President.
"Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, born in Canada before she came to the US at the age of 3, would be an attractive possibility as VP on the Democratic ticket in 2008"
I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt on your choice of "attractive" as the best way to describe the very attractive Gov. Granholm.
Professor Levinson: By almost all accounts, Springer is in fact a smart person...
Please, Sir, don't take this troll's bait. The issue isn't your opinion or my opinion or anyone else's opinion of Springer's politics, intelligence, moral standing. The issue is the principle of one class of citizenship for all. You raise an interesting point, any person of principle must give it serious thought. Vandals cannot be expected to do so.
Mortimer Brezny:Post a Comment
I like the provision. Allowing foreigners to assimilate is one thing, but you are not truly American unless you are born and bred here. I do not want Jacques Chirac acquiring American citizenship and running for President here.
That's a curious argument. Why would you postulate that is is a good thing for an across-the-board restriction because it would bar a single individual (who apparently doesn't meet with your favour) from running for president? Is there a reasonable argument for such (outside of your personal preferences, that is)? Why not stipulate that "only people that agree with me should be eligible to be president"? Or "Only people that share my outlook on life..."?
On a more general note, perhaps you could describe what you find so attractive in such a "cursed by birth" policy?