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by Tracey M. Grissom

(Jun. 20, 2011) — Every two weeks or so an old friend of mine brings her mom into town and drops her off at the nursing home for visitation and while she waits for her mom we meet for coffee.  We find a corner booth at our favorite coffee shop and usually spend a few minutes chatting about children, grandchildren, our Texas weather and cookie recipes and then spend the next hour discussing the state of our nation and our all time favorite subject these last three years—“The Obama and Co. Political Machine Done Chicago-style.”

This last coffee meet our conversation turned to the potential Republican candidates for the 2012 Presidential election and she expressed her disappointment that her favorite pick, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, seems to have dropped all thoughts of running. I knew she was quite impressed with Jindal last year during the BP Gulf oil spill and the way he stood up against the Federal government for his state of Louisiana, but I had mentioned to her once before Jindal’s parents were not American Citizens when he was born and therefore he is not a natural born Citizen and I thought she agreed with that. Many times in past conversations we had discussed Article II of the Constitution, the “Natural Born Citizen” clause, and how it made Obama ineligible to be President irregardless of where he was born, and we had always been on the same page agreeing it is an all-important issue, so imagine my surprise as our conversation progressed along a different path.

ME: “Well I’m glad Jindal is not talking about the Presidency anymore because he shouldn’t  run for President or be on the ballot as Vice President either because he is not a natural born Citizen! I mean good grief, does America have to go through this whole nightmare again?”

FRIEND: “But that’s not FAIR! Bobby Jindal was born right here in America, he even posted his birth certificate online to prove it, and his parents, BOTH his parents, are American Citizens now and so what if they were here on a green card at the time of his birth? Maybe you and I have got this whole “natural born Citizen thing” a little wrong and are being too narrow minded about it. Jindal is a smart, savvy conservative, and a good American and he would be a welcome change from the usual bunch of RINO’s and if he isn’t eligible, well it’s just not fair!”

Actually she kind of drug the last word out,“it’s just not fairrrr!”

ME: “I agree the Constitution cutting him out is not “FAIR”, as you say, that is, not fair to Jindal, but it is fair to the American public in general.”

FRIEND: “How do you figure?”

ME: “Okay look at it this way. Right now the bar is set at the very high standard of; a natural born Citizen has to be born on American soil of two American Citizen parents.  So that does include most Americans but leaves out people like Jindal or Marco Rubio because they are NATIVE born with parents who later became naturalized American Citizens. But they are not natural born. So alright then — what if we lower the standard to include folks like Jindal, as long as they are born in the USA and their parents become Citizens sooner or later — we’re happy then — right?  We lower the standard and then they can be President?”

She nodded her head “yes”.

ME: “But then right below that we have someone like Obama who was probably born in Hawaii but his father was a foreigner and never intended to become an American Citizen, BUT Obama  had one parent who was an American Citizen, so do we include someone with his set of circumstances? Someone with dual citizenship at birth, both British and American? But then if we do, well, what about naturalized American Citizens? Do we include them as eligible to be President? If so, how long do they have to be a Citizen before they can run for office? 14 years? 20 years? How long? Okay then what about people who were brought here to this country as little kids, they and their parents are illegal aliens but they have never known any other country besides this one, can they be President? Then what about ‘anchor babies’? After all the 14th Amendment says they are Citizens, so they are born here, then their parents bring them back to say, Mexico, to be raised , but later on as adults they move back and why not let them be President too? And if we let them be President then why not let illegal aliens who have slipped across the border, but are at least 35 years old, run for the office of United States President too? Shoot, why bother to have any criteria at all?”

FRIEND: “Oh com’n — now you’ve gone way too far.”

ME: “Ohhh, so now we’ve gone too far? I absolutely agree! But where did you want to draw the line? That’s just it. Once we start to lower the standard we’re on a slippery slope and there is always another group just below the line that claims it’s not fair to them. BUT if we have a President who is not natural born as the Founding Fathers clearly meant the term, then maybe we are not being fair to the few people who don’t qualify but actually want to run for the office of  president, (and that can’t be but a mere handful of people in any election cycle), but we are being fair to America in general, as…”

FRIEND: “You said that before, but how — how can that be fair to America in general?”

ME: “ First of all, because someone with parents who became Citizens after a child was born to them, like Bobby Jindal, or someone like Obama with a parent who was only here on a student visa, or certainly any of the other groups I mentioned, more than likely has immediate family back in the old country. There probably are grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, perhaps even as  the case with Obama, stepsisters and brothers back in the homeland. What would happen if America got into a war with that country and the President, who is the Commander-in-Chief, had to order a preemptive strike against a target close to where his immediate family members lived? Can you imagine the agonizing, gut-wrenching decision he or she would be faced with? Gee, lets see, for America’s sake, do I bomb my own grandmother or not? Could any human being even make that call? Or would he have to step down? Why would we ever want to do that to a President? Talk about being unfair, how could we expect them to give a green light to that kind of military operation?”

FRIEND: “I rather doubt we are going to be attacked by Kenya any time soon.”

ME: “Well I don’t think so either, but who is to say what wars the USA will be drawn into 10 years from now, or who will be the president? What if instead of Kenya, Obama’s father had been from Pakistan? How would that have worked if things had gone wrong with getting Osama bin Laden? That scenario, or several variations of it COULD play out that way in the future. But even if things don’t get that drastic, the American people deserve to know their President has no other homeland, no other interests except American. That’s what I meant by being fair to American Citizens in general. We deserve to have a leader who is as American as apple pie and baseball with no strings attached and no apologies to other nations needed.

Maybe in fair weather it’s not so much a problem but if trouble starts we don’t need the extra worry of wondering if our President has a divided heart. And our Founding Fathers were smart enough to see the easiest way to head off  the POTUS having even the appearance of loyalties to anyone– anywhere—at any time — except America, and only America, was to stipulate the President and Vice President need to be natural born Citizens. What about trade agreements, foreign aid, or how other countries perceive the American President? He or she should have his whole heart and soul  rooted in American soil. Even sticking closely to the natural born Citizen limitation is no absolute guarantee of that, because it could be only a matter of a few months difference as to when a potential candidate’s parents were naturalized, but it’s a good start if coupled with honest vetting. And no–it is not too narrow of a view, but is instead fair. Perfectly fair in good times to the greatest number of people, and in bad times, like, God forbid, another World War kind of bad times, to ALL the American people — even those disqualified from the presidency.”

She was looking uncomfortable but I pressed on.

ME: “So okay maybe the natural born Citizen clause keeps good guys like Bobby Jindal from being President, but it doesn’t mean he can’t be a Governor, or Senator or any number of other ways of serving our country, and that’s what it’s supposed to be about, is serving I mean, it’s not supposed to be some elite position to attain to as a reward or because you’re crooked enough to pull it off. And if someone has a true servant’s heart than how can they cry “unfair” when the rule of law draws lines meant to protect the American people, including themselves? I’m telling you if we pull that natural born thread loose from the Constitution we are in danger of unraveling the whole thing!”

I could tell by the look on her face she was at least thinking about what I said even if she wasn’t totally convinced I was right. She was clearly anxious to change the subject though and quickly did so, and after that there were a few more minutes of my pretending to listen to her talk about her rose bushes or geraniums or something, (I was too busy nursing my irritation that she could so easily discard Constitutional principles to pay much attention to her gardening tips), when her cell phone rang and she had to leave to pick her mom up.

We paid for our coffee and said goodbye, agreeing to meet again during her next trip into town.



As I steered the car out onto the highway heading for home I was still thinking about how she had changed her mind over the importance of the natural born Citizen clause. Only a few weeks ago she was saying it was an issue of the utmost importance, and now, what seemed to be overnight, she had stepped back from that.  My irritation began to lessen though as I realized she had fallen victim to a trend I see growing in America, one that in my opinion is a rather insidious and stealthy danger.

Some folks now days seem to view things based on their emotions rather than on their principles. Absolute truths, things that apply to all people everywhere and always have since Adam and Eve, the rule of law, the Constitution of the United States, a person’s world-view in general, all seem to take a backseat to how a person “feels”. My friend has a strongly felt admiration for Governor Bobby Jindal so she was ready to adjust her belief system to line up with her feelings, “maybe sticking to the natural born Citizen requirement is too narrow-minded” she had said. And this is a person who claimed just weeks ago that the Constitution is the very foundation of our nation and she absolutely believes Obama is ineligible to be President. I admire Jindal too but the law is the law even when it’s not “fair” to all people all the time. It’s been said we get into trouble when we try to level the playing field for everyone and I happen to agree with that, irregardless of how I view any one person.

It’s like the common mantra today is; “Don’t Think — Feel! Oh and make sure you let those feelings dictate your words, your actions, your very belief system, and unfortunately even sometimes our laws”. Because we see this trend with politicians all the time. Today they support Israel, tomorrow they flip-flop, today they are against this or that, tomorrow they vote in support of it. Granted, sometimes that wishy-washy stuff is to curry favor with a certain group of voters, but many times I suspect they don’t know themselves what they believe in because they are letting their emotions toss them about all over the place. Today they believe the U.S. should support Israel because it’s the only democratic nation in the Middle East, tomorrow they’ll see Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on TV giving a speech, and he’ll say some little thing that irks them and so they’re ready to throw Israel to the dogs. Today they’re dead set against something, tomorrow someone stirs their emotions with a nice speech and suddenly they support it.

Emotions add so much to the richness of our lives, but in themselves are neutral, neither good nor bad. We are free to feel things all we want, but our feelings were never meant to be the basis for our belief system, our laws, or horror of horrors, our interpretation of the Constitution. I read a lot of articles these days where right thinking people wonder has America gone mad, for where has logic and principle gone? I don’t think they have gone very far, its just in our world today we’re constantly being told to be sensitive and politically correct and to an extent that’s fine, but we have gone slightly overboard. With patience and speaking out honestly, I believe with a little time, we can self correct and once again put principled reason in the driver’s seat.

As I turned into our driveway I decided in view of that belief there certainly was hope for my friend. She’s a deep thinker and very sensible. I just hope I can find a way to gently point out what might be the cause of her change of heart concerning the natural born Citizen clause in a way that doesn’t preach or lecture. “Be a loving friend,” I reminded myself as I got out of the car, “don’t preach and don’t lecture, but remember— to let what you see as wrong thinking go unchallenged would not be love for a friend either. The next time you go for coffee you’ll have to bring it up. After all, one heart and one mind at a time can eventually change a country.”