By Louis Avallone
When Republicans are asked who they support for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, Donald Trump is now tied with the leader, Mike Huckabee, according to a new national poll. Surprised? Well, in fact, over the past several weeks, Trump has nearly doubled his support since he announced that he may enter the presidential race. A recent national poll even found that Trump’s name recognition among voters was 85 percent, trailing just behind Palin’s name recognition of 90 percent.
But while the Trump “brand” may provide the bright lights of the big city, and a marquee quality candidate, to a relatively bland cast of Republican candidates for president in 2012, it is perhaps his message regarding Obama’s birth certificate that has resonated the most with voters, and lent credibility to those millions of Americans who have constitutional questions about Obama’s eligibility to be president. On ABC’s The View, for example, Trump recently asked his hosts, “Why doesn’t he [Obama] show his birth certificate? There’s something on that birth certificate that he doesn’t like.”
And Trump isn’t alone on this issue. A new poll indicates that 25% of voters believe Obama was not born in the United States, and nearly 40% of voters think that there is, at least, “cause to wonder.” After all, the U.S. Constitution clearly states that only “natural born citizens” are eligible to be president. Even MSNBC’s Chris Matthews has asked why the President has not already demanded the release of his long-form birth certificate, by adding, “if it exists, why not put it out?”
While this seems like plain-old common sense to most Americans, the media has vilified and mocked these same folks, often referring to them as “birthers”, who have had the audacity or brazenness to merely put forward the constitutional question of whether Obama is a natural born citizen. The media has portrayed birthers as conspiracy nuts, or paranoid, delusional fringe voters, whose compulsive dislike of Obama simply defeats any rational, thought processes whatsoever. But you have those types in any large group of folks, don’t you? We have look beyond the messenger, and evaluate the merits.
So, if you aren’t already familiar with the merits, of the constitutional questions being raised by so-called birthers, it goes like this: Obama’s long-form, or original birth certificate has not been released to the public. In fact, Obama has exercised deliberate care to keep the original birth certificate from becoming public. Nonetheless, the Hawaii State Department of Health confirms that they possess the original vital records of Obama, indicating he was born in Hawaii.
This is important because Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution states: “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…”
There are voluminous court cases and scholarly articles, which provide detailed legal and historical analysis of the meaning of “natural born citizen”. However, it is generally agreed that 1) U.S.-born children of U.S.-citizen parents are natural born citizens and, 2) natural born citizenship is established only at birth and cannot be acquired after birth through naturalization.
With that said then, even if Obama was born in Honolulu, the question of Obama’s constitutional eligibility to be president would seem to come down to whether or not he is a “natural born” citizen. The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution addresses citizenship, but not the issue of who is considered a “natural born citizen.”
If being a natural born citizen requires being born on American soil, and that both of your parents be U.S. citizens (which a U.S. Supreme Court case in 1874 suggests), then there are significant constitutional issues with Obama’s eligibility to be president, especially because his father was a citizen of Kenya.
And even if Obama was born in Mombasa, some folks have said that all of these constitutional questions are pointless because he qualifies as a natural born citizen as a function of his mother’s U.S. citizenship. However, this is incorrect, based on the law in effect in 1961. The law then was that a person would be considered a “natural born citizen” if either parent was a citizen who had lived at least 10 years in the U.S., including five years after the age of 14. But because Obama was born 3 months before his mother’s 19th birthday, she was too young to confer natural born citizenship to the newborn Barrack, under the law, in effect, in 1961.
The bottom line is this: This is not about Obama personally, nor his policies. Believe it or not, and this may come as a surprise to some, but the institution of the presidency is much larger than the politics of any man (or woman) who is its temporary custodian. Americans expect the president to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” always, not merely when it is politically favorable. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.”
Last August, Obama said, “The only people who don’t want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide.” Well, Mr. President, the American people simply want the truth here. And if not from you, then from whom? And if not now, then when?