11.18.04 Make Room for Arnold?
I was asked to submit another opinion to the local paper. In less
than 150 words, "Should there be a constitutional amendment to allow
naturalized U.S. citizens to run for President?" The Friends of Arnie
are already aiming him toward the White House. There is actually
movement in the Senate to put the amendment together. The wording is
being debated: Is 20 years of citizenship enough (Arnie's tenure) or is
35 preferred? Should the candidate be a citizen before the age of 10?
Should this only go into effect at some future date, to disqualify the
What I wrote:
If an amendment expands the talent pool for
the office of President, I have no argument with it. The
technicality of one's birthplace seems trivial, especially if one
has been a naturalized citizen for decades. But are there 38 state
legislatures who won't be affronted by the idea of a foreign-born
U.S. President? Didn't we just endure a political season in which an
internationalist Vietnam War hero lost votes in middle America
because he "looked French"? Debate about this amendment will be a
good indicator of whether our "melting pot" nation is as xenophobic
and intolerant as the last election suggests.
Frankly, it's kind of a yawn. With amendments floating
around about flag-burning, school prayer, and the definition of
marriage, we are looking silly and distractible.
Across the Atlantic,
reports, as we American "gnaw on our innards," Europeans are considering
their first constitution as a combined entity. According to the author
It should ... serve as an inspiration to progressives
around the world. It bars capital punishment in all 25 nations and
defines such things as universal healthcare, child care, paid annual
leave, parental leave, housing for the poor, and equal treatment for
gays and lesbians as fundamental human rights. Most of these are
still hotly contested questions in the United States; as [Jeremy]
Rifkin* says, this document all by itself makes the European Union
the world leader in the human rights debate. It is the first
governing document that aspires to universality, "with rights and
responsibilities that encompass the totality of human existence on
*author of "The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of
the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream"
Hmmm... maybe a few Europeans in the national talent pool
would do us some good.