The political conventions are upon us — the Republicans are in Tampa now that it looks like Hurricane Isaac isn’t going to send the GOP packing, and the Democrats are headed to Charlotte. I’m excited to be spending a few days at the Democratic Convention, hobnobbing with the political hoi-polloi!
OK, I’ll really be just be looking for some good stories to share, but the hobnobbing sounded like more fun.
Since the days I’ll be in North Carolina coincide with our daughter’s first days of seventh-grade, she wanted to know more about where I’d be and what I’d be doing, which prompted a discussion about the presidential election process.
“What if I decide I’d like to run for President some day, Mom?” my 12-year-old asked with the glint in her eye that I recognize as saying, “I know this is a great idea!” I promptly told her that if she was President of the United States, that obviously meant that I would be moving into the White House with her to take advantage of the fancy rooms and never having to cook or clean again! Of course, as any good tween would do, she gave me her patented eye roll, but I also got a little laugh out of her, as well.
Which was good, because I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she can never be Commander-in-Chief.
You see, unless there is major change in the Constitution, our daughter isn’t eligible to run for president because she isn’t a “natural born citizen.” We adopted our daughter from China, so while she is an American citizen, she isn’t a “natural born citizen” as required by the Constitution. You might recognize those two little words — natural born — from the never-ending attempts by a group that’s come to be known as “birthers” to suggest that Barack Obama isn’t legitimately the President because he wasn’t really born in Hawaii, as evidenced by his birth certificate.
But the natural born issue doesn’t apply only to children adopted from other countries. If you have a biological son or daughter who was born outside the U.S., it’s unsettled whether they’d be eligible presidential material. Senator John McCain dodged that when he ran in 2008 — he was born in the Panama Canal Zone, but on a U.S. military base to American citizens, so he was deemed to have been born in American soil. And while the Mitt Romney campaign often refers to the fact that his father George ran for president, it was never settled whether, having been born in Mexico, he could legitimately have been elected.
Now, I understand that even if our daughter had been born in the good old U. S. of A., her chances of becoming president would still be pretty slim. But if your middle-schooler told you they thought they’d like to be POTUS one day, how would you feel about having to crush that dream, no matter how short-lived, just because they weren’t born in the United States?
I figure at this stage of the game, there’s no point in explaining that to her. But junior high civics classes aren’t that far down the road, and eventually she’ll figure it out for herself. She might shrug it off. But she might take it to heart and feel like it’s just one more thing that makes her different from so many of her friends. If I thought I’d live long enough, I’d get a movement going for a Constitutional amendment to allow internationally adopted children to be eligible to run for president.
Read more from me at my place PunditMom and in my Amazon best-selling book, Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America.(A great pre-2012 election read!)
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Image via Joanne Bamberger. All rights reserved