Age and citizenship is not enough. We need new requirements for president.

Jeff, aka Brookingslib over at On The Fence Voters has read my mind and written the post that I have been thinking about for quite some time now, but never got around to. A lot has changed in 230+ years, and it’s time for a few changes in our Constitution. Take a look at this post, for it is a common-sense, practical solution that would prevent a future recurrence of our current nightmare. Thank you, Jeff, for implied permission to share 😉

On The Fence Voters

Article 2, Section One, The United States Constitution: No person except a natural-born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States. 

So there you have it. In order to qualify to become the president of the United States of America, this little paragraph of our beloved Constitution spells it out. Is it me or doesn’t it seem a bid odd that the requirements to become the most powerful person in the free world are a bit on the weak side? I mean, I’ve seen job postings for dog-walker that are harder to qualify for.

I have to admit, since the election of Donald…

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No, He Cannot Do That …

“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”

That was what Donald Trump said in an interview with Axios that will be aired this weekend.  Out of the gate, it is a lie, for a large number of countries have similar policies, including our closest neighbors, Canada and Mexico.  Trump is vowing to sign an executive order that would seek to end the right to U.S. citizenship for children born in the United States to non-citizens.  That right, by the way, is protected by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

WHY???  You tell me … is a newborn baby, weighing on average 7 pounds, a rapist, a terrorist, out to murder and pillage, out to take the jobs that most U.S. citizens don’t want anyway?  Is he a threat to our lives or our economy?  No.  Trump speaks of that child born a U.S. citizen as if she will be naught but a drain on the nation’s resources for some 85 years, and yet … she will grow, she will learn, she may someday become the scientist that finds a cure for cancer, or who discovers a way to neutralize CO2 so that it no longer makes our planet uninhabitable.  Or just think … he may grow up to be the brave soul who rescues 100 people from a burning high-rise or stops a gunman from killing 60 people in a mosque.  He may be the teacher who teaches our children to be kinder, gentler people.

“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t.”

Guess what, Donnie – yes, you do.

He claims that after talking to his “legal counsel”, he believes he can achieve what he wants via executive order.  Would that be Rudy Giuliani, or one of his other paid lackeys, none of whom are Constitutional Law scholars?

Trump’s use of the executive order has bordered on the unconstitutional a few times, but this would be a blatant abuse of his power and would not fare well in the courts.  Even conservative-leaning justices on the Supreme Court, with the possible exception of Trump’s lackey Kavanaugh, would take umbrage with this blatant abuse of power.

Article V of the United States Constitution reads:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

In short, an amendment to the Constitution requires a 2/3 majority of both the House and the Senate … or … a Constitutional Convention whereby 3/4 of the state legislatures (38 states) approve the measure.

Think about this for a minute.  If Trump could simply sign an executive order to deny citizenship to children born in the U.S., what else might he be able to do?  Senator Tim Kaine said …

“The U.S. presidency is not a dictatorship. Patriotic Americans must rally to defeat the President’s unprecedented attempt to rewrite the Constitution on his own.”

He’s right.  The presidency is not a dictatorship, but … if Trump is allowed to get away with this latest plan, it will surely be on the path to becoming one.  What would be next?  Well, let’s see … he has repeatedly vilified the press … so, might he sign an executive order stifling the freedom of the press?  A mandate that every household must have at least one firearm?  A law that calls for schools to be racially segregated?  A decree that only white males can vote? Think about it …

With his vow to end birthright citizenship, guaranteed under Amendment XIV, Trump is once again confirming his intention to stall or roll back the country’s evolving racial and ethnic mix.  His base applauds, for they are 99% white Christians who see their whiteness becoming blended, who see themselves one day being in the minority and fearing that they will be on the receiving end of the treatment they and their ancestors have given to minorities for centuries.

Greg Sargent, writing for The Washington Post, summed it up nicely

“Trump is moving to deny citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants, an obvious bid to further feed this climate of xenophobia and hate. This is the only play Trump and Republicans have left, now that their ideas on taxes and health care have been soundly rejected by voters. And, of course, the end goal of fomenting all this hysteria is to hold Congress, precisely in order to further their regressive, deeply unpopular agenda on both those fronts — and, naturally, to protect Trump from the accountability a Democratic Congress would bring.” 

No, he cannot do that … unless we let him …

vote-animated

The 28th Amendment? Not Likely.

One thing you have to say about Donald Trump:  he sure does keep those of us who write about politics busy.  If I were paid a nickel for every word I have written about the man, I could buy a new car now!  This is a sad statement, as he really doesn’t deserve all the attention, and there is a strong suspicion in the back of my mind that many of his outrageous comments and antics are intended as nothing more than media bait.  His name and face are all over every news website, all over social media, he even appears on average of 35 times a day in my email inbox!  I try not to write about him, I really do.  And I was successful for 2 days this past weekend, mostly because I threatened to hit myself in the head with a hammer if I wrote a single word about him for 48 hours.  But alas, he has once again breached what is even remotely acceptable and I cannot be quiet.

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

It is 45 words, none of which are particularly challenging, all of which are common, well-understood words.  And yet … presidential wannabe Donald Trump appears not to understand the meaning of that simple sentence. He has decided that he will single-handedly change those words.  He has sworn that, in the unlikely event he is elected president, he will “open up our libel laws so when [newspapers] write purposely negative stories … we can sue them and make lots of money”.  Did you all hear that?  Do you understand what he is saying?  Donald Trump has pledged to change the libel laws in a way that could undermine the first amendment and the freedom of the press.  Two things are particularly disturbing, nay, horrifying, about this statement:

  • Freedom of the press is arguably one of the most important rights granted under the Constitution. If it becomes illegal to criticize government, to criticize the president, what keeps us from being a nation of “sheep being led to the slaughter”.  I often dislike the media as much as the next person, they are sensationalistic, they are bent more on producing stories that will sell rather than those that have depth, but nonetheless, I will defend their right to speak freely until I turn blue and die.
  • If Trump has no more respect for the “freedom of the press” clause than to casually announce he is going to change it, what other parts of the Constitution might he be willing to change or merely disregard? Perhaps the Third Amendment?  We have heard straight from the horse’s mouth how Trump “loves eminent domain”, so why not quarter troops in your home without your permission?  Or how about the Sixth Amendment, the right to a “speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury”.  Willing to give that one up?  As you can see, the possibilities are limitless.

The other thing that bothers me about his statement, though minor in comparison to the two more serious ones, is that he “can sue them and make lots of money”.  I have said all along that the almighty dollar is Trump’s God and the only thing he worships.  He opens every rally he holds with a recital of how high he is in the polls and the fact that he is rich.  It is the only thing that matters to him.

A government-controlled press cannot properly serve its citizens, but will tell them only what the government wants them to hear.  Think Pravda in the Soviet Union.  The only challenges to the freedom of the press, as I see it, are those involving national security, and even those have historically been difficult to enforce.  I am 100% certain that Donald Trump’s wealth and happiness are not a matter of national security. Many of you reading this post are fellow bloggers.  Do you realize that putting limits on what the press can say about the government would also apply to us?  It means this post I am writing at this very moment could be censored and I could be punished.

Fortunately, changing the Constitution is a lot harder than Mr. Trump apparently believes.  Perhaps a crash course in Constitutional Law would help him to better understand some of the limits on the power of each branch of government.  The framers of the original constitution knew exactly what they were doing when they distributed power among the three branches of government, the executive, the legislative and the judicial.  The Constitution can only be changed by amendment, and to pass an amendment requires either: a) a two-thirds majority vote in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, or b) a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures.  A very difficult process that historically has often taken years and has more often than not, failed.

This is yet another example of Mr. Trump’s hyperbole.  As such, one might be inclined to brush it off as insignificant.  However, the significance lies not in the deed itself, but in the intent.  Think about it.