Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Against the natural born citizen requirement

Lurking unsaid in the background of all this birthed nonsense is the simple truth that requiring the U.S. President to be a "natural born" citizen, whatever you think that means, is stupid. Even the founders thought so because they exempted themselves from the "natural born" requirement. (Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 says: "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") If the person who gets enough votes to have a majority of the electoral college happens to have been born somewhere else and without parents who were citizens, why shouldn't that person be president? If that many Americans are on board with the candidate, why is it a good idea to deny the public what they want?

I understand how citizenship can be viewed as a way to reflect loyalty to the U.S., but why does it have to be "natural born"? If anything someone who works hard to become a U.S. citizen through their own efforts has shown more loyalty and dedication to this country than someone who simply inherits citizenship at birth.

I know the "natural born" thing is in the constitution, so we are stuck with it. And that means there is a nice technicality for people to argue that someone they already don't like isn't eligible for the office. But that doesn't mean the technicality is a good idea. I don't think the "natural born" requirement is defensible, no matter how broadly or narrowly you interpret it.