Maybe Ted Cruz Isn’t Eligible to Be President

I’m not qualified to second guess the considered judgment of constitutional scholars about the original meaning of the term “natural born citizen.” I think it may well be the case that anyone who was not born in the United States of America cannot be considered eligible to serve as president of the United States. I also think it’s possible that they can be.

Either way, there’s a distinction to be made between people like John McCain and my brother, Phil, who were born abroad in military installations while their fathers were serving in the military, and Ted Cruz, who was born in Calgary, Canada because that’s where his parents were voluntarily living at the time.

It’s my strong suspicion that the Founding Fathers would not have wanted to punish the children of citizens who they had sent to serve abroad. But they would not have been willing to make an exception for citizens who were living in another country for their own reasons.

I can imagine some tricky cases, like a mother who was spending a summer in Europe rather than actually relocating there. But the basic intent of the constitutional provision seems clear to me. If you are born a Canadian, you can’t become president.

A separate question is whether anyone is really interested in enforcing this provision in a case like Ted Cruz’s.

For me, I have no such interest. His mother was a citizen. As far as I am concerned, that’s good enough. I don’t like Ted Cruz but I don’t think he’ll sell us out to Ottawa.

If some people want to be sticklers, I think they have that right. I don’t feel like being a stickler.

You know, there’s another provision of the Constitution that (sort of) says that the president and vice-president cannot come from the same state. I think it’s an outdated provision and we shouldn’t care about it. But it should have been discussed more when George W. Bush selected Dick Cheney as his running mate. They were both residents of Texas at the time, and I don’t think Dick Cheney maintaining a second residence in Wyoming should have allowed him to pretend that he didn’t live in Texas. As it turned out, Cheney registered to vote at his second residence which was actually critical because the Electors from Texas were prohibited from casting their votes for more than one Texan. Because the Electoral College vote was so close (271-266), if Cheney hadn’t been considered a citizen of Wyoming, Bush could been elected but Cheney could not have been.

I thought Cheney posing as Wyoming citizen was a fraud. But, I actually didn’t care too much about it. I didn’t see any real reason why we should still care if the president and vice-president come from the same state.

Likewise, I don’t care that Cruz was born in Calgary. But some people will care. And I will laugh my ass off if the Republicans discover that after falsely accusing the current president of being born in another country they wind up having a problem electing a president because he actually was born in another country.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.