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Why Must the President Be a Natural Born Citizen?

No, the fact that Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution states that “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…” hasn’t escaped me. Its one of the few bits of constitutional text that has withstood statist “reinterpretation”, remarkab…

  1. TeeJaw

    All you have to do is convince enough of your fellow citizens that the Constitution should be amended to remove this provision.  I think a lot of people who are concerned about Obama’s refusal to show us his birth certificate would have no objection to amending the Constitution on this.  We just don’t think it is a good thing for a president and a political party to act like we should just ignore this provision, and any other law they don’t happen to like.

    There is another thing to consider.  What will you do when a Mexican drug king pin is elected president?

  2. Michael Labeit
    TeeJaw : There is another thing to consider.  What will you do when a Mexican drug king pin is elected president?

    Move. An America that elects a drug lord is an America that deserves a drug lord.

  3. Ken Sweeney

    Daniel Hannan for President of the United States !

  4. Michael Labeit

    Ken, the thought of Daniel crossed my mind but then I figured someone would reply that if he’s eligible, then so is someone like Arianna Huffington.

  5. Jerry Broaddus

    There is a certain loyalty to the nation of one’s birth. This is reasonable. And while it may not be true in particular cases, the nation that holds person’s parents, is likely to house his descendent’s, his fortune, and his birthplace has a strong emotional hold on most people.

    As for your claim that there’s no need to fear foreign saboteurs, where have you been? Demonstrably, we have not only need to worry about foreign troublemakers, but the domestic kind as well.

    Your straw man that Americans see foreigners are undesirables is just insulting. Wasn’t too hard for you to knock down, was it?

    My question to you, Michael, is: Out of 200 million adults, can’t you find one that’s qualified? If you find one in the larger pool of several billion adults worldwide that you like better, could you a suggest a requirement more likely than Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 to be a leading indicator of his loyalty? Or is loyalty in a President even a consideration?

  6. Michael Labeit
    Jerry Broaddus: As for your claim that there’s no need to fear foreign saboteurs, where have you been? Demonstrably, we have not only need to worry about foreign troublemakers, but the domestic kind as well.

    I anticipated this objection which is why I stated that,

    According to Martin Kasindorf,

    “The barrier to foreign-born citizens becoming president stems from fears that the Founding Fathers had during the Constitutional Convention of 1787. They were concerned that subversive enemies could force the fledgling republic back to foreign monarchical rule. Delegates didn’t want the United States to suffer the same fate as Poland, which in 1772 had been partitioned among Austria, Prussia and Russia after agents of those countries bribed Polish nobles to elect a disloyal king.”

    The hazard of foreign saboteurs may have existed at the time of the American Revolution, but it hardly exists in the same form today. Nowadays, the influence of foreign powers on the staffing of the presidency is the concern of conspiracy theorists paranoid over the Illuminati, Freemasonry, and the Trilateral Commission.

    The hazard of foreign subversives influencing the presidential election is nil. This is the hazard that I refer to.

  7. Michael Labeit
    Jerry Broaddus: Your straw man that Americans see foreigners are undesirables is just insulting. Wasn’t too hard for you to knock down, was it?

    Its not a straw man; its a possible objection to the repeal of the Natural Born Clause. Your estimate of the objection is distinct from its essence as an objection. I quite clearly do not say or imply that “Americans see foreigners are undesirables.” That’s an assertion that you should withdraw.

  8. Jerry Broaddus
    Michael Labeit …

    Another objection to repeal asserts that the pool of existing potential foreign candidates is composed largely of undesirables. ..

    Michael Labeit

    Jerry Broaddus: Your straw man that Americans see foreigners are undesirables is just insulting. Wasn’t too hard for you to knock down, was it?

    Its not a straw man; its a possible objection to the repeal of the Natural Born Clause. Your estimate of the objection is distinct from its essence as an objection. I quite clearly do not say or imply that “Americans see foreigners are undesirables.” · Apr 25 at 10:59am

    Restate your argument in active voice. Who asserts? Not Americans? Someone else then. Do you contend that they assert something they don’t believe? For what reason?

    I’ll stand by my statement. It is a straw man, provably false in most cases, and in every case where it’s not obviously false it will be a political embarrassment. Because of that, it could not be used openly as an argument against the requirement.

  9. Michael Labeit
    Jerry Broaddus: My question to you, Michael, is: Out of 200 million adults, can’t you find one that’s qualified? If you find one in the larger pool of several billion adults worldwide that you like better, could you a suggest a requirement more likely than Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 to be a leading indicator of his loyalty? Or is loyalty in a President even a consideration?

    If a foreign candidate even managed to make it passed the FEC and his lesser opponents to go head to head with an native candidate, then I think we need not worry about his or her loyalty. I’m not terribly impressed with the loyalty that allegedly comes from native origin. Managing to emigrate to the U.S., to meet all of the necessary legal conditions, and persuade a sizeable portion of the electorate that one is worthy of the presidency should be proof enough of loyalty and would be necessary in order to ultimately win.

    Citizenship over a particular length of time is certainly a superior indication of loyalty than native birth.

  10. Michael Labeit
    Jerry Broaddus

     
    Michael Labeit

     Jerry Broaddus:

     
     Restate your argument in active voice. Who asserts? Not Americans? Someone else then. Do you contend that they assert something they don’t believe? For what reason?

    I’ll stand by my statement. It is a straw man, provably false in most cases, and in every case where it’s not obviously false it will be a political embarrassment. Because of that, it could not be used openly as an argument against the requirement.

    I’d bet that there would be some Americans who would make that objection. The citizenship of the objector is quite obviously irrelevant however. I’m concerned with logic, not psychology or nationality.

    A straw man is a misrepresentation of a given argument. The straw man fallacy involves critiquing or refuting the misrepresentation and then claiming that one has refuted the actual argument. I identified an argument in favor of the clause; I did not misrepresent it.

    Stick with the misrepresentation if you like; you’re invested in it now. I’ll appeal to the fair-mindedness of my Ricochet audience: Have I stated or implied that “Americans see foreigners as undesirables”?

  11. Michael Labeit

    Asserting that one objection holds that “[T]he pool of existing potential foreign candidates is composed largely of undesirables” is quite different from asserting that “Americans see foreigners as undesirables.”

  12. Rob Long
    C

    I agree.  Why should the voters in a free republic be prohibited from voting for someone who might have been born in, oh, just pulling a country out of a hat, Kenya?

    It’s a silly requirement.  We should amend it.  Anyone who can run the gauntlet of the primaries and the general election shouldn’t have to worry about where he was born.

    I’ll bet there are some young people right now, naturalized American citizens, born in eastern Europe, who know what freedom, capitalism, and personal liberty really mean.

  13. Jerry Broaddus
    Michael Labeit

    I anticipated this objection which is why I stated that,

    The hazard of foreign subversives influencing the presidential election is nil. This is the hazard that I refer to. · Apr 25 at 10:55am

    Edited on Apr 25 at 11:01 am

    Cool. Throw into the well a bit of “conspiracy theorists” poison, complete with references to the trilateral commission.

    I’m not sure I’m ready to accept Martin Kasindorf, noted USA Today columnist, as the go-to guy for the innermost secrets of great men long dead, or for that matter on “the concern of conspiracy theorists paranoid over the Illuminati, Freemasonry, and the Trilateral Commission.”

    You have not shown, or even given evidence in support of your claim that no foreign subversives would run if they were permitted to. And neither did Kasindorf. He merely smeared any argument against his point of view as coming from less than legitimate sources.

  14. Jerry Broaddus

    Michael, your posts are always enlightening and usually educational, sometimes just because I have to do some reading to figure out what it is you’ve said to which I object. In this case, there’s a fascinating discussion  on the meaning of the term: “Natural Born Citizen” that you might find interesting. It does not mention any possibility of sabotage, but does say a great deal on expectations of loyalty.

  15. Underground Conservative
    Jim Chase: My initial reaction to this idea will likely come across as nationalistic, and unsophisticated in comparison to the interesting comments above, but I find myself steadfastly in favor of the current requirement.  

    Don’t sell yourself short.  It’s about the only comment I’ve understood so far.  You raise good points. I don’t want to debate a candidate’s legitimacy on hair-splitting technicalities that will only dilute the office.  Right now, it’s neat, clean, and it works. It has survived eras where foreign-born citizens were a much higher percentage of the population than they are now.  We have a more than large enough pool to draw a suitable candidate from, and the current requirement saves us from a whole host of additional complexities.  

    I do sympathize with Rob’s point which essentially promotes a “fresh blood” perspective, especially from places where freedom was not taken for granted. I’d take a Vaclav Klaus any day of the week over most of the hacks we get now.  Still, there’s too much tinkering that would be required to make this happen effectively, so I’m going to stick with what we’ve got.

  16. Michael Labeit
    Jerry Broaddus

    Michael Labeit

    You have not shown, or even given evidence in support of your claim that no foreign subversives would run if they were permitted to. And neither did Kasindorf. He merely smeared any argument against his point of view as coming from less than legitimate sources.

    I think the idea that a foreign subversive or some Manchurian candidate could make it past the primaries and into the general without detection is farfetched. It may make for good cinema, but I think its the stuff of Cold War mythology.

  17. Tommy De Seno
    C
    Rob Long: I agree.  Why should the voters in a free republic be prohibited from voting for someone who might have been born in, oh, just pulling a country out of a hat, Kenya?

    It’s a silly requirement.  We should amend it.  Anyone who can run the gauntlet of the primaries and the general election shouldn’t have to worry about where he was born.

    I would use this argument to get rid of Presidential term limits.

  18. Robert E. Lee

    I suspect this was included in the Constitution because early Americans were tired of rulers being forced on them from the “mother country.”

    Regardless of the reason, it is, as you have stated, the law of the land.

    I’m fine with that, personally.  If we can’t find a suitable candidate out of 330 million or so American citizens, then maybe we need to be looking for a new method of government.

  19. Rob Long
    C
    Jerry Broaddus

    If you don’t take care of some of the stuff in the requirements for the job, you doom yourself to arguing minutia.

    Ever hired anyone, Rob? Did you post requirements? Or, did you interview every single applicant regardless of merit?

    That is what we’re doing. If you don’t do it by making the rules official, you’re going to have to argue everything, and I mean everything, during the campaign.

    As evidence, I offer this discussion. The Natural Born Citizen clause of Article 2 eliminates this particular subject matter in the presidential election.

    Make that most presidential elections. · Apr 25 at 12:02pm

    I’ve hired lots of people.  And of course I had qualifications in mind, things I thought we’re absolutely imperative any applicant possess.  But my argument is, I don’t think the GPS location of someone’s birthplace is, de facto, all that important.  Maybe it should be considered, along with everything else.  But eliminating non birth-citizens from the presidential field seems to me to accomplish nothing. I’d rather have President Angela Merkel than President Barack Obama.  I’d rather have had President Margaret Thatcher than President Bill Clinton.

  20. Michael Labeit
    Theo Moller

    Michael Labeit

    Have I stated or implied that “Americans see foreigners as undesirables”? · Apr 25 at 11:27am

    Edited on Apr 25 at 11:35 am

    I think it could be construed as such, but that’s not how I interpreted it.  I took your actual comment to mean something closer to: Americans believe generally that current European politics and politicians are undesirable to have running in the US.  Is that something closer to what you meant?

    That’s what I pretty much had in mind.

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