A naturalized POTUS?
By Jeffrey J. Cunningham
Yes, at first glance it does come across as a much wilder and far more distant dream than any chimeric dream, but if you stay with me during our short exploratory journey and also remember that this is the United States of America, which is quite unlike any other country in the world, the dream will become less of a chimeric dream.
Let us during our short exploratory journey set aside the issue of the Iroquois origin of the United States Constitution and go directly to Article II, Chapter 5 of the Constitution as it is, which states:
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 35 years, and been 14 years a resident within the United States.
We will revisit Chapter 5 later on in our journey.
The perpetual fountain of life of the Constitution is in its Fifth Article (Article V), which provides the mechanism for amending the Constitution to help it keep abreast of changing times and is a testament to the insight and wisdom of the Founders and as time marches on, the Constitution will accordingly meet the needs of a great citizenry who can tackle any change of any seismic proportion.
The digital age has been upon us for some time now and much of what we have been witnessing and experiencing today was not even conceivable when the Constitution was being crafted in the 18th century. Because of the digital age, the nations of the world are now having highly incestuous relations with one another!
There are several millions of American citizens who were born outside the United States to their non-American parents. Among them, there must be a few with great leadership capabilities. Unfortunately, the constitutional barrier has kept them on the sidelines and the highest they can reach is to serve as a cabinet secretary to a native-born president.
Let us review the cases of two American top diplomats: Henry Kissinger, the 56th U.S. Secretary of State under President Richard Nixon, born in Bavaria, Germany, to his non-American parents and Madeleine Albright, the 64th US Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, born in Prague, Czech Republic, to her non-American parents.
What was the United States’ experience under the native-born presidents Nixon and Clinton? It had to spend an extensive amount of valuable time and resources to deal with the unnecessary and uncalled-for nuisance of their short-sighted, irresponsible and unethical “presidential actions” of the Watergate and Monica Lewinsky sex scandal!
We can rightfully call this constitutional barrier in Article II, Chapter 5 the United States’ self-imposed opportunity loss. Let us now revisit and review Chapter 5: "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 ..."
First, this leaves the door open for a very legitimate argument that one or more of those who were foreign-born citizens “at the time of the adoption of this Constitution” and could legally run for president would have done so if they had been intensely preoccupied and consumed by the malicious intention of becoming the president to switch sides and betray the United States, but it never happened.
Second, we can also bring a native-born POTUS’s foreign-born spouse into the picture and, considering the influence that spouses have on each other, legitimately argue that since the ancient times, rulers’ foreign-born spouses have tremendously influenced the rulers’ vital national decisions and conclude that when it comes to the dealings with the country of origin of the native-born POTUS’s spouse, the native-born POTUS will not always choose what is in the best interest of the United States!
One of the significant and pivotal figures among the Founding Fathers is Alexander Hamilton, a foreign-born American. Since George Washington, there have been nine four-star generals and one admiral, who were born outside the United States to their non-American parents and at all times were ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for the United States.
There have been 19 cabinet secretaries, including Kissinger and Albright, who were born outside the United States to their non-American parents and advised the POTUS of their time.
Among millions of naturalized Americans, for the few of them with great leadership qualities and capabilities, the cultural and social transformation they have undergone is an added advantage in seeing the bigger picture in its totality and developing a worldview to lead the United States responsibly and sure-footedly. All of this makes a compelling case in favor of ending the United States’ self-imposed opportunity loss and allowing a naturalized American citizen to run for POTUS or be tapped for V-POTUS. The removal of the constitutional barrier with an amendment will not result in having a naturalized POTUS any time soon, but it will heal the injured and hurt relations between the two immigrant and native-born groups and will have a calming and settling effect on the nation’s nerves, which will be felt within one generation after school children at a tender age learn that any American citizen regardless of where they were born can become the president and head of state of the United States of America.
The perpetuation of a nation’s strength and greatness depends on the degree to which great men and great women around the world are willing to perpetuate it. (Abridged from 1,963 words)
Jeffrey J. Cunningham is self-employed and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org .