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Fourth, a small but significant controversy surrounds the timing of the proposed amendment and its inevitable link to "the Governator."
The first issue, regarding the sacrosanct nature of the constitution, is one of the easiest to address. While amending the constitution should not be taken lightly or respond merely to the fluctuating passions of a rapidly changing society, many constitutional amendments are necessary to preserve and enforce the specific liberties and rights of citizens. For example, the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments applied specifically to the freeing of the slaves and were therefore requisite. Similarly, an amendment to the constitution that allows foreign-born citizens to run for the office of presidency represents the willingness of our society to grow and change. Article II, by preventing foreign-born citizens to run for president, does discriminate against those immigrants. Writers like John Dean and politicians like Orrin Hatch strongly support amending the constitution because it does not represent American values such as freedom and liberty for all citizens. Many of these articles also refer to the history of Article II and the original reasoning behind it. Drafted first by John Jay at the Constitutional Convention and heard by George Washington, then acting president of the Constitutional Convention, the measure was adapted without debate. At the time, the country's architects were worried that a British-born citizen might try to re-impose the monarchy in the Untied States. That was over two hundred years ago and such a fear is completely unfounded now.
Second, these articles show that amending the constitution to allow foreign-born citizens to become President would be far from a threat to national security. On the other hand, Dean notes that "in an ear of terrorism -- when an attack on both the President and the Vice President becomes all the more possible," clarifying the succession laws is absolutely necessary for the stability of the nation. If both the President and Vice President were assassinated and the next-in-line to the office (the Speaker of the House) were a foreign-born citizen, legal analysts and politicians would have considerable trouble interpreting the constitution. Thus, Dean and other proponents of the amendment turn the national security issue on its head. He states that amending the constitution would resolve the "tricky succession statue question," eliminating "constitutional ambiguity."
Furthermore, these writers illustrate a fundamental contradiction inherent in Article II: only the office of Presidency cannot be held by a foreign-born citizen. Any other high-ranking official can be held by a foreign-born citizen. Threats to national security do not come only from the office of Presidency. A senator, a congressman, and the Governor of California can have a powerful impact on American lawmaking and politics and can potentially infiltrate and undermine American political integrity. Therefore, Article II does not necessarily preserve national security. A natural-born President, moreover, could potentially betray his or her country regardless of having been born on American soil.
Articles that address the issue of the proposed amendment to the constitution regarding foreign-born citizens becoming President cannot but bring up Arnold Schwarzenegger, the "Governator" of California. Grassroots movements like Amendfor Arnold.com and Operationarnold.com show that it is Arnold in particular who arouses public interest in the matter. Arnold's becoming Governor of the most populous state in the nation also undoubtedly prompted the current congressional support for the amendment by Senator Hatch and Representative Dana Rohrabacher and others in the House. The timing seems sinister to some, who conclude that Republicans are especially eager to see the amendment passed so that Arnold can run and reign. However, all the authors of these articles prove that considerable bipartisan support exists for the amendment and that the amendment represents equality, not partisan politics. Especially because Arnold Schwarzenegger does not follow Republican social conservative political rules, it is doubtful that the amendment represents a conspiracy.
Especially in light of the last issue regarding the suspicious timing of the proposed amendment to the Constitution, these articles had a considerable impact on the way I as a reader thought about the issues. The fact that several Democrats support the amendment, including Jennifer Granholm, proves that the issue is not about Republican power. Regarding national security I would have already agreed that the notion is preposterous: threats to national security come from places other than the office of Presidency. Moreover, I am also aware that some of the most loyal and patriotic citizens of the country are not natural-born citizens but rather are foreign-born citizens who have worked hard to assimilate. Foreign-born citizens could ostensibly make better presidents than their natural-born counterparts because of their solid affection for the nation. Furthermore, I do feel that amending the constitution should not be taken lightly. However, after reading the opinions of some of these writers I acknowledge that Article II is outdated and is prejudiced against people who happen to have been born abroad. If the rules require that the person in question be a citizen for at least 14 or even 20 years, then there should be little concern that the security or integrity of the United States would be jeopardized by changing this particular and unnecessary rule.
Terminator in the White House?" AFP. 28 Oct. 2004.
Dean, John W. "The Pernicious 'Natural Born' Clause of the Constitution: Why Immigrants like Governor Schwarzenegger and Granholm Ought to be Able to Become Presidents." FindLaw.com. 8 Oct 2004.
Frank, Sarah. "Congress Joins Clamor for Foreign-Born to Seek Presidency." Chicago Tribune. 8 Oct 2004.
Gladstone, Mark and Marimow, Ann E. "Schwarzenegger Keeps his Distance from Speculation." Mercury News.com. 4 November 2004.…[continue]
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