American politics and the birthers

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Yesterday was one of those really fun days in American politics where the entire country is focussed on an issue of poignant irrelevancy. The rest of the world can see it, the US can see it, yet it is played out as if it was two kids arguing about something in a playground with point scoring by any means possible. And, of course, we know that point was scored yesterday: the birth certificate that we all knew was there was now on the Internet and we could see it. We all knew it was there because if it wasn’t someone would have taken the whole issue to the US courts.

Fortunately, I have become a scholar of 7th grade US history this year so I have a perspective that others do not. First of all, this focussing on an irrelevancy is not new. My favourite is Andrew Jackson who, for all intents and purposes was a bigamist, and who had to fight the two-timer movement for his entire presidency even after losing his second wife soon after taking office. Of course, that issue allowed him to thumb his nose at the Supreme Court and march native Americans across the country without nearly as much fuss. But it happens for every president (Carter with religion, Reagan with age, Bush with Quayle, Clinton with where to start and Bush ditto). The problem with Obama is that it was so hard to find an issue to play this role. The birthers were a consequence of his unblemished record.

Second, there is such an irony about the birther issue. It is usually associated with the term ‘freedom loving’ people but what could be less freedom-loving than to deny someone becoming a duly elected head of state simply because they were not born on the soil of the country? It’s crazy. Australia elected a Prime Minister who wasn’t born here and no one cared less. Then again we have a Head of State who doesn’t even reside in the country. So the entire restriction is ludicrous. It was probably put there because the founding fathers were nervous the experiment might fail and the US people would elect the King of England to be president (something not that far-fetched as revolutions go).

Finally, none of the people promoting the birther movement actually want transparency. Somehow they couldn’t see it. That means more fodder to distract people for months and perhaps years to come. By the end of it, however, no one will care about those embarrassing Facebook pictures when you come to run for president as everything will be exposed as a requirement. The effect of transparency is not necessarily light or information but indifference.

4 Responses to "American politics and the birthers"
  1. Agreed about the fundamentally undemocratic nature of the restriction.  In that way, it’s much like Australia’s restriction on public servants running for office.

  2. Respectfully, I think you are somewhat unaware on the ‘Birther’ movement. I would agree though that the issue is a distraction. There is plenty of other material available for critics, but a looming S&P downgrade and IMF warnings should be more pressing concerns. Obama has shown no interest in honest budget reform.

    I will direct you to http://obamacrimes.com/?cat=3 If you can get passed the extreme domain name, this individual had actually launched a court case. This individual says that they are only one of many court cases and they cited in an interview that Obama has spent $2 Million in legal defense on the issue, and yet it took 2 years for the release of a long form birth certificate. I think it is actually the opposite. These people have actually been on the side of transparency. They are asking for access to documents that should have been provided anyway. Despite court cases, its taken Trump to prompt the release. It smells dirty. It smells like a trick. Why not release straight away? I leave it up to others to judge the merits of this guys claims. Anyway, what it comes down to is law. Fundamental law actually. The 14th amendment to the US constitution to be exact. 

    The ‘birther’ movement can be said to come from the Tea Party movement. Some of these people are avid ‘Constitutionalists’ and really believe that the US had strayed far from both the literal interpretation and the intended interpretation intended by the founding fathers. You can criticize that, but the point is, you are not a citizen and the purpose of government is to serve the people. Ie: your view is irrelevant as you are not a stakeholder in the nation (I assume). So judge away. For example look at the “kinetic action” in Libya done on behalf of the UN without any consultation with the US constitution who holds the power of approval by constitutional law not executive order.

    Also, you will no doubt think I am splitting hairs, however Australia’s head of state is Queen Elizabeth II. If you want to argue the point it could also be the Governor General. Either way, NOT Julia Gillard. 
    http://members.pcug.org.au/~mos/repub/aushos.htm You’re still right of course, we do not have a naturalized citizen as head of state. This is actually a very important distinction for us to remember. Everyone says they would never dare, and this is probably spot on, however, legally the Queen and GG can dissolve parliament or refuse royal assent to any bill. I don’t think nostalgia is a good enough excuse for a Queen to hold these key powers.

    I know your main argument is that any head of state should only be a citizen not a natural born one. I don’t have an opinion on that, but, if you are going to be the self styled “Leader of the Free World” you damn well better be transparent to the core. Ultimately voter ignorance & apathy will rule absolutely, but if you’re going to have a finger on the button you shouldn’t be able to hide anything about yourself. 

    To borrow an idea, “Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done.”  Not being able to hide anything would nip this sort of thing in the bud. My 2 cents.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R_v_Sussex_Justices,_ex_parte_McCarthy

  3. Where was Obama born? Someone think he was born in Egypt, some thousands of years ago.

    Well, it’s an interesting point. Obama’s policies seem to rival the Pharaoh’s policies that gave the Egyptian people those wonderful and useless pyramidal masses of stone. Talk about misspent taxes.

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