Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Constitutional Amendment

I’m more than a little bit interested in the current clamor to repeal the United States Constitution’s position prohibiting foreign-born individuals from running for the highest position in the land – the President of the United States.

Of course, this is all a swirl because of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s meteoric rise in the world of politics through his ascendancy to the governorship of California. He emerged from a veritable menagerie of political hopefuls to defeat then Governor Gray Davis. By most accounts, “The Governator,” as he is affectionately called (a spin-off of the title for his successful trilogy of blockbuster movies, The Terminator), has performed in an exemplary fashion since taking office a year ago.

Schwarzenegger is considered to be a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. Curious then that he was faced almost immediately as governor with the out-of-control attempts by social engineers to force gay marriage upon the people of California who had already voted that this was unacceptable. How would the new governor handle this liberal social issue? To his credit, he backed the law.

Then there was the speech Schwarzenegger gave in support of President Bush’s reelection at the Republican National Convention. No argument. It was a real stem-winder! Think about it! Who else could have invoked the name of former President Richard Nixon and gotten away with it? He attributed his becoming a Republican to Nixon. He says shortly after arriving in the U.S. he couldn’t even speak English, but a German speaking friend he was staying with in 1968 translated the presidential debates between Senator Hubert Humphrey and former Vice-President Richard Nixon. Arnold said his reaction to Humphrey’s policy ideas sounded Socialistic, like what he’d left behind in Austria. But when he heard Nixon, he asked his friend what party Nixon represented. His friend said, “Republican.” Schwarzenegger responded, “Then I’m a Republican!” It brought the house down at the Convention.

Arnold could speak the name of Nixon and not be brutalized in the media, or even shunned by fellow-Republicans, because he was addressing the steps he had taken in the eventual process of becoming a solid American citizen. How do you attack that? So he stood on the platform of the Convention receiving the applause and adulation of his party.

Arnold’s popularity has taken on a new life with a concerted effort to bring about a change in the Constitution by modifying, or eliminating the “natural born citizen” clause. A political group has been formed solely for the purpose of overturning this clause. They are well organized, applying pressure on lawmakers to revisit amending the Constitution. They are currently involved in a bumper sticker campaign – “Amend for Arnold.”

You will hear a lot more on this in the months ahead, especially the closer we get to the presidential election of ‘08. Take a moment to read what the founding fathers wrote in Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 of the United States Constitution:
"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; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."

It’s important to know what it would require for such an amendment. Constitutional amendments require passage by two-thirds of both the House and the Senate and then approval by three-fourths of the states. Since California is likely to make this amendment an issue, given that Arnold is our governor, and with the clout that California wields with 55 Electoral College votes, you can be sure that the rest of the nation is watching to see what the Golden State does.

Space does not allow for me to address the differing arguments on this amendment proposal, but I suspect we’ll be hearing a great deal from all quarters of the political spectrum. In fact, this discussion has already begun in earnest on the Internet and talk shows. This discussion will also have intense interest on the world scene. Imagine those immigrating to the U.S. armed with the knowledge that they could possibly become the most powerful person in the world!

I heard on a radio talk show today that the governor has asked that he not be made the issue for amending the Constitution. Good for him. We certainly do not want amendments made based on personality or popularity. I wonder how much momentum there would be to amend if there was no Arnold, who, besides being the governor of the most populated state in the Union with an income that ranks fifth in the world, has enormous star power from his body building days and Hollywood career.

And don’t forget this bit of information – Arnold is a Republican married to a Democrat. And not just any Democrat. Maria Shriver is a Kennedy. This amendment has all the makings of a real strong bid for Arnold to be allowed to run for the presidency in 2008. Mark my words.

I’ve not personally decided where I stand on this. I’m still researching what the founding fathers meant. But I ask you – Is this a great country, or what?

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