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17 November 2004 @ 08:48 am
So if the charges...  
... 'are baseless' and there is 'no indication' that House Majority Leader Tom Delay faces charges, why is the GOP now scrambling to change the party rules on felony charges which require leaders to relinquish their positions if they are indicted?

It makes me feel ever so much better that the changes were proposed by Bonilla R-TX, who ensured his recent election with a little gerrymandering in his spare time.

While I'm at it, what sense does it make to change the Constitution so that naturalized citizens can become President? We don't have a big enough talent pool of our own?

-the redhead-
Abby Franquemonthuaman on November 17th, 2004 08:40 am (UTC)
In some respects, re the naturalized citizens thing, I think the question is what sense it makes, in the modern era, to not allow naturalized citizens to be eligible. Personally, I need to research the original thinking behind that clause a bit more before I feel like I could have a strong opinion about it. I think that in general it might be time to rethink some of the "who's allowed to run for president" stuff so that the qualifications are actually not entirely unlike what people were originally thinking. For example, by the time someone was 35 in the 18th century, they were well established, well into middle age, and had damn near grown-up kids. Now, consider the average 35-year-old American -- I mean let's say people roughly the age you and I are. By and large, it's a much more sheltered, inexperienced crew than it was when your life expectancy was 50-55. So, hey, maybe we should also be thinking about changing it from "just finished grad school and looking for a postdoc job" to "old enough to be getting mail from AARP."

Anyway, all that to say, I can see the logic to re-examining some of the qualifiers. It isn't clear to me that, for example, someone born on US soil and then raised entirely someplace else, is more qualified than someone born someplace else, then raised here from infancy. Or that someone born and raised here seems to have any clear grasp of civics, US history and government... or could even pass the tests about such matters that are required to become a naturalized citizen.

All of that said, however, I do want to be absolutely clear that I am, in general, a Jeffersonian-style federalist and a big, big fan of the Constitution *not* being changed without extreme tests. Prohibition: stupid. Suffrage: product of over half a century of effort to change that. Some other amendments I think are pretty badass include the entire first 10, including the ones that don't affect me personally and which give leeway to scary people sometimes.
Buddha Buckblaisepascal on November 17th, 2004 12:44 pm (UTC)
Born citizen requirement.
I heard recently (although I haven't investigated the situation clearly) that one major reason to have the natural born citizen requirement was to prevent gentry from Europe from coming over to the nascent US and taking over its government.

Abby Franquemonthuaman on November 17th, 2004 12:58 pm (UTC)
Re: Born citizen requirement.
That's what I remember learning in 8th grade or whenever it was, but of course, that's now a long time ago. I do not know if there were other reasons, or what the debate at the time was like... but I do buy it. That being the case, I'm not sure I think it's still really relevant. There would need to be other reasons to keep naturalized citizens from holding the office of President, for it to really still be warranted, IMHO. That's my gut off-the-cuff reaction, mind you.

It would also be interesting, and potentially relevant, to look at how our definition of citizenship and voting rights have changed over time.

Though I am a firm believer in and fan of the constitution, that doesn't mean I believe it should never ever be changed. Supposing I believed that, I would not agree with the Bill of Rights, which are after all amendments, and I would have to denounce my great-grandmother's work as a suffragette, and give up my own right to vote and own property in my own name, and that sort of thing...