In the last week Republican presidential nominee and Texas Senator Ted Cruz has had his eligibility to run for the White House questioned. Having been born in Canada many are now asking whether he is or isn’t a “naturalized” American citizen.
Despite announcing his intention to seek the presidency last March, this is the first time people are actually discussing his birthplace and whether he can legally run for the nation’s executive office. Donald Trump, the frontrunner, admitted on the debate stage on Thursday night he had brought it up because Senator Cruz was polling well; he is currently ranked second nationally.
The only requirements to be president are age (35 years and above), a fourteen-year residency in the US, and to also be a “naturalized citizen”.
Despite many saying Cruz meets the criteria, there has never been an official ruling on the meaning “naturalized”. To some it means being born on US soil. To others the interpretation is broadened to include being born to American parents, no matter the country. One understanding negates Mr. Cruz from his candidacy, the other includes him.
Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz was born to a Cuban father and an American mother in Canada. At the age of four he moved to the US where he has lived ever since.
Mr. Trump is asking Cruz to take his credentials to court to be ruled on, to put the matter to bed with either ruling to end the issue for both Cruz and any future “birther” candidates.
No doubt Trump believes he is performing a service to all conservatives by ensuring that, should Cruz win the nomination, he would have no question mark over his head in the general later in the year. But the only thing he is demonstrating is the double standard these elections hold for certain candidates.
The black & non-white of it all
Eight years ago, many- namely Trump- questioned the legitimacy of then-Senator Obama’s campaign for President of the United States. The reason was over the supposed falsification of Mr. Obama’s birth certificate. And quite frankly the reason was that his father is from Kenya. His mother was overlooked despite being an American (a situation putting Obama and Cruz in the same situation had the president in fact been born in Kenya). The focus laid solely on his African father.
Reporter Aaron Blake of The Washington Post:
…the questions about Obama’s eligibility had everything to do with a dispute over the underlying facts — more specifically, conspiracy theories about whether the president was actually born in the United States, as he claimed, and whether he somehow forged a birth certificate that said he was born in Hawaii…
…But birthers weren’t making a legal argument about Obama; they were arguing the facts about where he was born and accusing him of perpetrating a massive fraud…
…nobody is accusing Cruz of lying about his past as part of a vast conspiracy to become president.
It’s just not an apples-to-apples comparison.
According to Mr. Blake, this is an apples-to-oranges situation instead. Yet he forgot to mention where the conspiracy theories appeared from. Spun out of control by FOX and other conservative media outlets, Obama’s citizenship was questioned simply because he was not white. No one cared that his mother was born in Kansas, on American soil. His father was Kenyan and so Obama had falsified his way to the nomination. And far right Republicans were waiting for the fallout. A fallout which of course never occurred.
It’s not my intention to call anyone a racist without strong evidence, but as Blake continuously pointed out, the debate over Obama and Cruz is not the same because Cruz has been forthright with his Canadian birth. So even though Cruz’s Canadian birth is indisputable public knowledge, it hasn’t come up until now, just as the senator surges in the polls.
No other candidate has faced the scrutiny Obama was subjected to. It is unlikely other candidates carry a certified copy of their birth certificate along the campaign trail, just in case someone accuses them of not being “from here”. But according to Mr. Blake, the details surrounding Obama were legitimate causes of concern. Those Cruz is facing are not.
Suited & booted
Despite the clear double standards involved, Americans are now dealing with whether Cruz should go before a court and have the matter decided once and for all. Despite many legal experts believing Cruz to in fact be a naturalized citizen, there is no precedent to base these claims.
Senator John McCain, who ran against Obama in 2008, faced similar issues given his birth on a military base in the Panama Canal Zone. Yet this was commonly decided as constitutional and was never taken further. At the time, the senator said there was a difference between being born on a US military base and foreign soil. McCain is the only major candidate, one who won the nomination, to have a birther issue before him.
Despite Trump’s continued pressing, Cruz cannot easily volunteer the issue himself. Rea; clarity would only be achieved through an active case filed by an injured party. In Texas, an 85 year old resident is the first to file such a suit, at the Houston Federal Court. Arguing that the naturalization clause has never been defined, Mr. Newton Schwartz Sr. wrote, “The entire nation cannot afford such constitutional confusion and uncertainties overhanging the electorate process.” However his case is not likely to get that far.
The Supreme Court has never ruled on the reality of the “naturalized citizen” clause. And without an undeniable suit, and with FOX and The Post backing Cruz’s stance (see Aaron Blank, for example) it’s unlikely the case will see the inside of a court house.
Until the first lot of primaries come through the Republican nomination is still fairly wide open. Only if Senator Cruz wins will there likely be a solution to the question of his birth rights. In the meantime at least there is a discussion about his eligibility, even if it is slightly more civil than the erroneous claims thrown at Obama’s black-ness.