Citizenship Debate: Introduction

02 Mar

San Diego — In the last post titled “Straw Men, Red Herrings and Big Lies” I made the assertion that one of the red herrings out there was the flap over President Obama’s eligibility to be President.  Most have high centered on the so-called “Birther” issue where some believe him to have proffered bogus documentation of his birth place and in so doing sent others into paroxysms of appoplexia.

I suggested that it was irrelevant because it centered on the wrong question, that being, even if he WAS born in the U.S., the real question was the citizenship of his father vis-à-vis entitling him to the status of “Natural Born Citizen” as demanded for eligibility to become President.  I further suggested that I believed the answer was “No.”

A reader, “Ellen” (whom I erroneously referred to as “Erin” in responses because I misread her name and for which I apologize profusely) leapt feet first into that assertion and presented, on the face of it, a reasonable case to the contrary even if couched in somewhat patronizing language.

To be honest I thought that was cool.  My whole purpose here is to stimulate thought and reasoned debate; and if my assertion brought that debate about, then I would feel good that I had succeeded. And i guess, now that we are in the political silly season, some overflow of passion is to be expected.

Unfortunately, rather than simply agree to disagree and present a contrary view, Ellen felt so strongly about her position that the status of individuals born on American soil regardless of the allegiances or citizenship of the parents was settled implicitly to be that of a natural born citizen and therefore eligible to be president, that she expressed that I was dead wrong and ignorant of the real facts and that, therefore, I obviously did not know what I was talking about since it was a long-ago firmly settled issue.

(Rather than me putting words in her mouth, I would suggest you jump to that initial post (there is a link in the right hand column or you can just scroll down to access it) and read the comments from her and the short exchange which followed so you can determine for yourself what she is saying.)

I would normally let comments speak for themselves and happily stand back and let commenters rejoin one another in a lively discussion. The problem in this case is that while I am divinely indifferent as to whether someone agrees with my conclusions or not, to maintain some credibility with these posts it is important to make sure that I do have the core facts from which I draw those conclusions in hand and present them as accurately as possible.

It was not my conclusions alone that Ellen challenged however, but the “facts,” the whole underlying premises that I relied on to form the basis of the argument.  That puts me in the sad place of having to spend time defending something that in the end I presented and argued was irrelevant and was being used as a red herring to draw our attention away from the important issues.  So here I am, spending more time than it deserves to be able to show that I did not pull this assertion out of the air or out of some politically incorrect portion of my anatomy.

And so here is this debate’s opposing positions.  I’m quite am sure Ellen will let me know if I am mischaracterizing her position but to me it is that the framers never meant for there to be more than two types of citizenship and the courts, especially the Supreme Court, has ruled on it and settled it definitively with the results that any citizen other than a naturalized citizen, is a natural born citizen, leaving no room for question or debate.

My position was and is that it is NOT a settled issue and that debate continues partially because the writings of the framers and the specifics of the language used clearly (to me and others) indicate the intention of creating three, not two, “levels” or categories of citizenship.  However, in my opinion, court rulings and statutes have muddied the water so severely that the issue is still unsettled leaving us quite justified in arguing which interpretation is best, but not in asserting that it is all settled one way or the other.

I promised in my response to Ellen that I would re-research the issue (because I foolishly did not keep any of my notes after I wrote the post) and, by this weekend, present the reasons I hold to my position.  She denigrated the attempt, declared, as if making a pronouncement from on high, that this had been settled nearly from the first, imply it was simple ignorance on my part not to know and accept that, and went so far as to tell me who not to use as reference because of his flip-flopping on the issue but then proceeded to quote him herself as his conclusions pendulum back and forth but through her position.

OK, with that comment, this has now passed the point of workable debate.  Several of the sites she referenced were also ones from which I drew data.  The problem is, she had cherry-picked the quotes that fit her scenario and on some sites, ignored those that countered them while asserting there is only one side to this.  I have merely tried to show that there is another side, equally passionate and equally relying on historical material and with an equal (or to me, superior) claim to the truth.

Both sides are true believers because each has a vested interest in the outcome due to policies dear to them.  I never tried to say that the other side to my argument did not exist, as she has, but rather that the question is still unresolved and that I believe, personal opinion here, that the position she espouses is in error vis-à-vis the intention of the actual authors based on their own comments and accepted authorities.

That is not the only issue the courts have ruled on that I believe has been newly revised and reinterpreted incorrectly.  Some of those actually result in conclusions I like but I think judicial re-interpretations are not the proper way to make changes to the Constitution, and original intent, rather, proper amendments should be used.

Rulings in law about almost anything get overturned as the political climate changes.  I will concede that more recent rulings have been skewed in favor of Ellen’s argument, that is, that soil is more important as a qualifier of citizenship than blood or even allegiance/jurisdiction over the parent.  But I think that was not the original intent nor was it the original interpretation.  Some like me, prefer that other interpretation not because of Obama or anyone else.  I already noted that it my mind the constitutional uses of the terms would prohibit Marco Rubio from the presidency and I am inclined to like him.

When Ellen cherry picked quotes to support her side while ignoring, from the same context, any quote or ruling to the contrary she used a great debating technique but a bit disingenuous if one is holding themselves out as the purveyor of ultimate truth.  But nevertheless her quotes and citations were good ones and, if only this topic had the least amount of practical relevance, would have properly formed the basis for a marvelous debate.

And who knows, perhaps she was right after all;  since I had deleted my notes I did not have even one citation to throw back at her in my defense.  I know how that has to look to readers so felt forced to take this further whether I saw any real point to it or not.  To maintain credibility I had no option but to take the time to revisit and reassess the material. I will let you decide, at the end of it, if I have made the case that this issue is not fully resolved or not.  I have no real expectation of swaying Ellen’s position but that is not really the point.

And so I re-did and expanded the research.  THe good news was that i discovered quickly i was not, by any means the first to question this (as one would expect if Ellen was correct)) and a wealth of material was out there.  To lend credence to the fact that I am not creating this out of whole cloth, most of the following series is actually made of quotes from other sources wrapped with a few narrative comments of my own.

Still, to my dismay, after cutting and pasting citations and quotes and adding but a few comments of my own I realized that I had created over 50 pages of material.    I do not know what the limits of the sizes of posts on this site are but this surely has to go over it.  And it certainly would go over the attention span of all but the most anal on this topic.  So I have attempted to excise and edit it back down and after severe editing it still is, at 35 pages of MS Word document, in my opinion, too large for a single post so I will post it in a series, titled “Citizenship Debate, Part 1-?”.

As I write this I have not determined, by experimentation, how many pages I can get into a single post.  So to help you know when it is over, I will title the last post as “Citizenship Debate – Conclusion” so you will know when it is over.

As you know, posts are listed with the latest post on top which means the posts in this series will end up being listed and presented from BOTTOM to top forcing you to scroll down to the start if you are to properly follow the material to see where I get my conclusions.  All I ask is that if you actually care about the bottom line (which I must tell you I no longer do) then please wade through ALL of it.  Do not select just parts you like, one way or the other.  To be fair in your analysis, you must also include in your reading, the material Ellen sent as comments to the “Red Herring” post and not just what I write.  Hopefully, with that, I can at least claim to have presented this fairly to both sides and let you all make up your own minds.

So as quickly as I can get the material posted I will start adding posts from this one (“Introduction”) to the last one (“Conclusion”).  It may take a few hours to see how much i can add at once and then start block copying material into the sequence of posts so bear with me.

And then I intend, regardless of comments, to move on to more relevant topics that will have, in my opinion, an impact on our country vis-à-vis the upcoming election.


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Posted by on March 2, 2012 in Uncategorized


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