If you are into current events and/or American politics, maybe you have heard of ‘the birthers.’ The Birthers are a small yet loud and highly publicized group of fringe individuals who believe that President Obama was born in Kenya rather than Hawaii. This would mean he is not a ‘natural born citizen’ which is one of the requirements to become President of the United States. And despite the fact that both Republicans, Democrats and neutral parties have received and approved documentation from the State of Hawaii proving the time and place of his birth, these people charge on. What is fueling their frenzy, one can only guess, but I speculate it’s crazy pills and gasoline fumes. There are websites, blogs, and even stories on ‘news’ channels dealing with this issue. But my favorite coverage is a tape of a town hall meeting where one senator got more than he bargained for. Please watch this if you can stomach individual insanity followed by cult-like group insanity.
First of all, why is this woman waving her birth certificate around as though that document somehow makes her more qualified to be President of the United States. And I’m really glad she’s keeping it in a Zip-Loc bag for security. We wouldn’t want that thing to get wet. I also like how she is holding a mini American flag in her hand, very much like the kind that the Rotary Club gives away for free at the Fourth of July parade in Marquette. That really hammers home the point that she is a REAL American. I am now considering carrying a mini-flag with me everywhere I go. This lady ‘wants her country back’ and she is going to yell shrill threats into a microphone until she gets her way. Unfortunately, the frightening sight and sound of this woman accompanied by the cries of agreement from the pitchfork-wielding villagers in the background is overshadowed by the terrifying nature of an impromptu Pledge of Allegiance in which nearly everyone feels peer pressured and/or shamed into participating.
It probably seems obvious to most people who really follow politics that these people can be disregarded. This is not likely to become a bigger issue, despite the fact that reporters still are bringing it up in the White House press room. The President will face many challenges in the coming years, but even the most hateful Republicans who vow to stop health care reform based primarily on the principle of making the Obama administration seem like a failure (how very American of you!) don’t give any credence to the Birthers. What bothers me most is the larger issue that this woman brings up but that no one mentions.
First, she claims that because Obama was born in Kenya that he isn’t a citizen. Even if these crazy people were right, being born there doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be a citizen now. He was, after all, born to an American woman regardless of what continent it happened on. She would have had to file some paperwork to register his birth with the U.S. Government, and poof, he is a citizen. Secondly, the ‘natural born citizen’ rule of becoming President seems outdated and unnecessary. In a few years Dave, in theory, could himself become a citizen of the U.S. And while it isn’t likely that David with either become a citizen OR the President, it is highly probable that David and I will have children outside the U.S. And when that happens any hope they have of becoming President is gone. Even if we move back when they are two weeks old and live in the States forevermore, they could never aim higher than Secretary of State. In fact, my friends Liz and Abby have both recently birthed two very bright and adorable sons who are indeed Americans but who can never be the leader of the free world. Nell, a very responsible and civic minder person, is currently incubating a human who can never be called Commander in Chief.
The more you think of it, the less sense this rule makes. A child has no say where they are born. Furthermore, they have no recollection of the event let alone the geography. Additionally, a child who grows up abroad and eventually returns to the United States has a wider world view than even most adult Americans. Maybe it should be a requirement that you have been OUTSIDE the United States before you can become President.
Aside from the entertaining nature of this ‘scandal’, the bigger truth is that those reporting the news and those making the laws should have bigger fish to fry at this moment. Create some jobs, repair diplomatic relationships, end wars…you know, that kind of thing.