Why Deny Naturalized Citizens Chance to Become President?


I’ve been surprised a lot lately by odd little events.

For example, while wheeling around the Morgan Hill Nob Hill Foods store, as I’m wont to do on Sunday afternoons, I noticed that the cart that the bagger offered me as I entered the store wasn’t the usual variety. It was shorter in length and a matte charcoal color instead of a shiny chrome color.

But my mind was yanked from mulling the new cart when I spied something in the produce section that made me laugh out loud: individually wrapped baking potatoes.

What’s wrong with bulk potatoes, I wondered, if you only need one or two? Aren’t we all environmentally conscious enough to eschew excess packaging? Didn’t an overpackaging revolt kill the long boxes in which CDs used to be sold?

A produce department employee assured me that there’s a reason for the plastic shrink-wrap – these are microwavable potatoes.

Um, I hate to break it to the “inventor” of this product, but I’ve been successfully microwaving potatoes for decades without plastic.

But, because this is Silicon Valley, home of all things cutting-edge and gadgety, I had to buy a 50-cent shrink-wrapped spud.

While shopping, soda packages stacked on the bottom of the newfangled cart kept falling to the floor. The bagger who walked to my car informed me that the newfangled carts were designed for senior citizens – they’re lighter and easier to push – and not for piles of soda.

I guess it’s time to touch up my gray roots if the first bagger I encountered mistook me for a senior citizen.

I microwaved the potato when I got home, and it was indistinguishable from a naked potato, except that my trash can had a piece of plastic that it wouldn’t have had if I’d nuked a bulk potato.

Something that surprised me during the first Republican presidential candidates’ debate – but that doesn’t seem to have raised eyebrows elsewhere – was the refusal of any candidate (save one who appeared to be joking) to endorse changing the U.S. Constitution so that naturalized citizens like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright could run for president.

Currently, naturalized citizenship is less than natural-born citizenship.

Other than the knee-jerk “I want to follow the framers’ original intentions” answer, no real explanations were offered by any of the ten candidates. I dislike that reasoning because it’s an example of what the author of the marvelous book “Being Logical,” D. Q. McInerny, calls the “Using and Abusing Tradition” fallacy.

I’d have preferred reasoned, logical arguments for and against the debate moderator’s question.

Here’s what the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Why, then, is it OK to deny naturalized citizens, who’ve sworn an oath of allegiance to this country, the chance to serve in the nation’s highest offices?

It’s a question we ought to honestly debate. I’m surprised we’re not.

Lisa Pampuch is a technical editor and a member of the newspaper’s editorial board. She lives in Morgan Hill with her husband and two children. Reach her at [email protected].

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