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Let Arnold Run
I've felt for a while that it's time to change the antique constitutional restriction that prohibits anyone but a "natural born Citizen" from running for president. It isn't just Arnold who'd be a potential candidate. An LA Times editorial mentions the Canadian-born governor from Michigan, Jennifer Granholm. The un-bylined LAT op-ed rightly argues:

A reflection of the framers' worries about meddling in the new nation's affairs by European monarchies, this restriction makes no sense in the 21st century, when even opponents of legalizing undocumented aliens acknowledge that this is a nation of immigrants. It's insulting that a legal immigrant to the U.S. who has twice won election as governor cannot aspire to the presidency.

The Constitution shouldn't be amended lightly. But this is a matter of principle: a core principle about the equality of opportunity in our society to strive for the highest office. Congress and state legislatures should adopt a 28th Amendment to the Constitution that would put all citizens 35 and older on equal footing when it comes to the highest office in the land. Americans should be free to decide whether they want to be led by President Jennifer Granholm.

...In this nation of immigrants, there will always be individuals affected by this arcane discrimination, and the urgency to address the matter should not be dampened by partisan concerns that it may help one candidate or another. Indeed, it would be nice to see California Democrats spearhead the movement, even if it could theoretically benefit our Austrian-born governor.

If Americans wanted Schwarzenegger in the White House, the fact that he is a naturalized citizen (who no doubt appreciates his earned U.S. citizenship a lot more than many people born here) is no reason to deprive them of that choice.

In fact, I find that people born in other countries -- like a lady from Russia I talked to at Schwarzenegger HQ on election night -- are often much more appreciative and much less likely to take American freedoms and America in general for granted. For example, in, I think it was 49 years that the Russian lady had been here, she said she'd never once missed voting. How many "natural born Citizens" can say the same?

Posted by aalkon at November 12, 2006 11:00 AM

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Well. How do you feel about the practice of "shopping" for Senate seats? In particular, Ms. Clinton had no ties to NY, and is routinely supported by people who are not residents of NY and cannot claim to act in that state's interest. She's not the first like this; if I could clap my hands and make something happen, I'd prevent non-residents from endorsing or financially supporting a Senate or House candidate.

This is still an important issue because of the impact of activism - which you can certainly see in the hysteria about gay marriage. Activism's worth can be seen in a simple experiment:

Poll the voters on an issue, and compare their knowledge of the issues with their vote. There are two outcomes of your poll, and they are both considerable: either there is no difference in the relationship, in which case education had no effect, or the ignorant voted differently than those in the know - which means that ignorance adversely affected the issue. Now - which do you think is the norm? That's why emotional ads appear everywhere before elections: thinking is too hard, but getting people to emote is easy, and so activists do that often.

Though the point about immigrant voting is well taken, isn't that anecdotal, one of your favorite disclaimers? Besides, what percentage of the voting public is a first-generation immigrant, as your example appears to be?

Posted by: Radwaste at November 12, 2006 5:48 AM

The voters voted for Hillary. I think they're pretty happy with her, too.

And yes, my comment is anecdotal -- and I think that's pretty clear. Not all immigrants are thrilled and grateful to be here, but many are, and if the people want an immigrant as president the people should have an immigrant as president. It's an antiquated law.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 12, 2006 6:13 AM

And, are the voters often idiots? Yes. That's why I agree with Cathy Seipp -- we don't want to encourage people to vote. If you aren't motivated to vote, stay home.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 12, 2006 6:18 AM

> often much more appreciative and
> much less likely to take American
> freedoms and America in general
> for granted

No less often than they're likely to assume they've reached the land of milk and honey, and should now be given a quiet office job and a nicely-furnished apartment and brightly-patterbed clothing like Mary Tyler Moore had when they watched her show on the B&W tv in the village rec room thirty years ago. America wouldn't have happened without immigrants, but wide-open immigration isn't a cure. Ask Chirac.

There's nothing like an LAT editorial to remind us that the paper *deserves* its its sunset fate as a vanity plaything for Geffen or Broad:

> But [A] this is a matter of principle:
> a core principle [B] about the equality
> of opportunity in our society to strive
> for the [C] highest office.

[A]: It's implied that the constitution is often modified "lightly", and I'd like examples.

[B]: "Core principle" translates as 'our personal fascination of the hour.' See also, Gay Marriage. The common thread is a refutation of the word "strive" later in the sentence: A belief that nothing special should ever happen to anyone for any particular reason, and every fate should be freely available to every player.

[C]: It's not the highest office. Bill Gates has the highest office. Or Mark Cuban. Or Meg Whitman of Ebay. Or the corner barber, if he likes his work. We need to stop describing our positions of public service as inherently heroic. The fuckers don't deserve it.

It's comical to agree with Seipp that voters should be responsibly interested and discerning as an argument that Schwartzenegger --arguably the most vulgar, pandering superstar in history-- should be allowed to be president.

We're often told we don't think enough about the opinion of those beyond our borders, as if the opinions of uneducated, underperforming masses were a precious resource yet to be mined. If you were mad at Cheney for shooting that guy in the face, you've got to think carefully about what it would mean to the rest of the world to see Arnold in the White House.

Posted by: Crid at November 12, 2006 7:17 AM

Patterned. brightly-patterned clothing.

Posted by: Crid at November 12, 2006 7:21 AM

Who pissed in your Corn Flakes, crid ?
I've worked with immigrants and know that people who need to establish everything for their families' welfare from the ground up in a new land are usually pretty industrious about doing so. That's why they stimulate the economy : they need so much and work to get it where an opportunity exists to fill perceived needs.

Foreign qualifications for trades and professions can be difficult to impossible to recognize in the new melieu. That does not denote stupidity.

What has this question to do with the opinions of those beyond the U.S. border ( I am, but that doesn't have to do with the value of anything) ?
A proposal was made not to disqualify those who seemed to most merit a position of public trust. It sure doesn't seem you're arguing that the selection has been terrifically successful in the past.

Posted by: opit at November 12, 2006 10:32 AM

I find any argument against immigrants running for office pointless in light of the ability of foreign nationals and foreign companies to own land and property in the United States.

Why bother to become President of the United States when you can own it? And if any foreign national can own a controlling interest in the economy of any U.S. state or the entire nation, what comparitively greater harm could possibly befall the U.S. by electing an immigrant for President?

Posted by: Michelle at November 12, 2006 11:05 AM

> Why bother to become President
> of the United States when you
> can own it?

Exactly. Before he ever made a movie, Arnold became a millionaire investing in California real estate. Who needs the White House when you're an internationally beloved action star?

Not being able to be president is just not that onerous a burden to immigrants. Few of them will be starting quarterback for the Bengals, either.

Posted by: Crid at November 12, 2006 12:42 PM

Tragically, that avenue (the Bengals) is not open to me, either.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 12, 2006 12:56 PM

I bet it is... your hair matches the uniforms. Put some halloween fangs on the dog, she could be the mascot

Posted by: Crid at November 12, 2006 3:56 PM

If only they'd scare away hawks -- saw one the other day, sitting right on my fence. Lucy, the little idiot, sat there barking at it instead of running inside and crawling under the couch, as she should have. Meanwhile, she's intimidated by the pot roast-shaped boy Yorkie down the block...and reallly just about all creatures except an escaped turtle that once found its way into my yard, and bugs.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 12, 2006 5:16 PM

Cool. Since the voters of NY "are happy" - I guess being booed at MSG is a sign of glee - then any Senator or Congressman can be paid for by nonresidents, and you're OK with that?

Keep in mind that this includes organizations and people you may dislike, some intensely, but the real issue is this: Who has a stake in their state, and who does not?

Posted by: Radwaste at November 12, 2006 8:05 PM

Oh. I see that the Times is busy redefining things for us: "illegal" is now, "undocumented". Right.

Posted by: Radwaste at November 12, 2006 8:09 PM

Many, if not most, senators or congressmen are already paid for by "non-residents" -- big corporations.

Illegal is illegal in my book.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 12, 2006 9:02 PM

I have noticed that corporations usually pay both sides, in proportion to a) whether the platform says anything about the company's field of endeavor, and b) their likelihood of winning. Still, that, too is a bad thing. Non-resident influences lead to things like Connecticut's confiscation of private property so they can get more tax money from a commercial developer.

Posted by: Radwaste at November 13, 2006 2:46 AM

> the opinion of those beyond our borders,
> as if the opinions of uneducated,
> underperforming masses were a precious
> resource yet to be mined.

Crid, you really voice some demented opinions sometimes. Surely you didn't mean to say that everyone outside *your* borders is uneducated and underperforming.

Really, you're a study in ethnocentricity.

Posted by: Marie at November 13, 2006 6:40 AM

> you didn't mean to say that

Nope, or I *woulda* said that. Need more clarity? Let's take a f'rinstance.

F'rintance, Middle Eastern islamic Arabs. On the radio I heard that Arafat's sister was injured today/yesterday at a celebration marking the second anniversary of his death... And was reminded of how when Yassir began circling the drain, he flew to Paris, not Riyadh or Tripoli or Damascus. He went to the land where Curie and Pasteur did their best work. Can ME/I/A cultures offer as much light to this century as those names did to the 19th? No? Why not? What kind of leadership *can* we look to those places for?

Never been to Paris, m'self. Amy says it's nice. Audrey Tattou is really cute.


Posted by: Crid at November 13, 2006 3:57 PM

> Nope, or I *woulda* said that.
Well, actually, you *did* say that. It was a sloppy statement. You evidently had a specific case in mind, but your "those beyond our borders" statement was incredibly sweeping.

Paris is wonderful.

Posted by: Marie at November 14, 2006 12:55 AM

> It was a sloppy statement.

I chose the words carefully and meant every one: reread.

> You evidently had a specific case in mind

Nope, it was a general principle: Civilization is a demanding enterprise, and the fact that someone sucks air doesn't mean they're a helpful contributor. I sometimes ride in airplanes, but don't expect to consulted about deployment of slats & flaps.

Just after the attacks, Lileks wrote this:

"And now: for the last time: I am aware of the history of the United States. The myriad deficiencies that arise from it being composed of human beings, not Swiss robots. I am well versed in these things.

"I’m getting bored with having to proclaim I’m not Jumping Jimmy Jingo because I take pride in the good this country offers , and I don't immediately append a 30-minute codicil putting it the context of our atrocities of the Phillippine war. If this bothers anyone, I’m sorry.

"Translation: not sorry at all."

Posted by: Crid at November 14, 2006 4:06 AM

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