Skip to comments.What Is Citizenship, How Do You Get It, What Does It Entitle You To?
Posted on 08/20/2002 7:13:11 AM PDT by Stand Watch Listen
One of the tenets of democracy is that all people are equal. This is usually expressed in the system of voting. Every person gets one vote that is equal to the vote of any other person. It is often viewed as the great equalizer for the humble. The homeless person has a vote that is equal to that of Bill Gates or Michael Jordan. I sometimes wonder if that is the way it should be. Are citizenship, and voting rights natural rights that come down from heaven to every person born in the United States?
I believe strongly in natural rights. The right of every person to freedom and the right to be equal before G-d are rights set forth by our nation´s founders. However, the founders did not include many other rights which we take for granted. That is not to say they were perfect. The founders agreed, whether reluctantly or not, to allow slavery to exist as an institution in this country. We have improved on their work by abolishing slavery. However, in other ways we have diminished what they gave us.
Citizenship is awarded to any person born in the United States. If Mohammed Atta fathered a child (far fetched I know) the day before September 11 to a woman who was a suicide bomber, but who gave birth to the baby in Florida before she returned to the Middle East to murder other peoples´ children, that child would be an American citizen. When he grew up he could vote for Cynthia McKinney or an avowed supporter of Bin Laden. Is this really what we want? What should be the benefits of being an American citizen or of being born in the United States?
I believe that we have done some things in terms of voting that are destructive and irrational. When 18 year olds were given the right to vote it was decided, through various court actions, that college students could vote in the location where they went to school. I went to school in Albany, New York after growing up in New York City. As a student at an out of town school I learned very little about the city of Albany. Life for college students tends to revolve around the campus, the dorms, and the University. I continued to vote where my parents lived although I had the right to vote in Albany.
The idea of taking thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) of people who have no real stake in a community and giving them political control of that community is ludicrous. Many college towns are small towns where the students are numerically the dominant group. They may live in dormitories, rarely venture into the town and know very little about the town beyond what happens at their university. They also usually have no plans to live in the town as soon as they graduate from (or otherwise leave) the University. Yet they can vote to create long term obligations for the citizens of that town that work there, raise children there, and plan to live there for the rest of their lives. This is not just a theory. Many communities such as Berkeley, California have been subjected to radical governments through this process.
One of the supposedly great advances in democracy has been the extension of voting rights. Some like to belittle the founding fathers by noting that only White men who owned property could vote. I certainly agree that voting rights should not be based on race or gender. However, I find the concept of restricting voting rights to people who have a material stake in society and who contribute to the society appealing. We have had a situation in this nation where people who are greedy or envious of others can, in effect, vote to confiscate something that someone else has which they would like.
We have elections in California in which property tax increases can be voted on. The people who vote in these elections may not own property. They may not even live in a dwelling; there are people who actively register homeless people to vote. To the extent that higher taxes reduce general prosperity, a vote for higher taxes comes at the expense of all people. However, demagogic politicians work hard to make sure people do not see it that way. They talk about tax cuts for the rich. This language is ridiculous because obviously tax cuts are going to benefit those who are paying taxes. The Orwellian language suggests that the money that wealthy people pay in taxes really belongs to the government and that it is reverse Robin Hood largesse to let wealthy people keep more of the money that they earn.
I believe that only people who own property should be able to vote in elections that specifically levy tax increases on property. There are some limited cases where this is done. However, in California recently, a ballot initiative reduced the majority of votes needed to create special assessments. This is a method of getting around the tax limits brought into effect by the famous Proposition 13. The misleading ads for that initiative claimed it was about increasing scrutiny of government spending without mentioning that its purpose was to make it easier to pass tax increases. Many renters probably were not bothered by that fact. We often have bond initiatives that will lead to higher property taxes where all people can vote.
People who do not pay income taxes vote for Congressmen and Senators who pledge (and deliver on the pledge) to vote to increase taxes for people who do pay them. We often hear feminists say that men have no right to an opinion on abortion (unless they support it) because they do not get pregnant. Why do people who do not pay taxes get to increase mine?
Getting back to citizenship, another problem is that in our increasingly statist and socialistic system citizenship has become a ticket to government handouts. In California we had proposition 187 which had as its purpose to deny illegal aliens education and health care benefits. What bothered me about this initiative is that it was another case of how to divide a static pie among people and which people get which piece of that pie. It is understandable that a state which has no ability to deport illegal aliens would want to find a way to express its displeasure with the burden imposed by those people.
What bothers me is the rallying cry I went into the welfare (or government health clinic or other government office) office and half the people there were immigrants. I can´t even get welfare why should some foreigner? Has American citizenship been reduced to that? Is the ability to get your hand on government money what this nation is about? My grandparents struggled to get to the United States to enjoy freedom that was lacking in Eastern Europe. My father fought in Okinawa. If my legacy from all that is first dibs on a welfare check they would be deeply disappointed. I am not bothered by the fact that foreigners are getting welfare as much as I am by the fact that the welfare culture is so pervasive. My utopia is not an America where only citizens get welfare checks. America prospered because it was a place where people sought the opportunity to create great things. Native born Americans recognized this as did foreigners who wanted in on this opportunity. If foreigners are now coveting our handouts we have nobody to blame but ourselves for making this the new American dream.
What should we ask of our citizens? As a minimum we should demand loyalty to our nation and its ideals. That is not to say that liberals should be denied citizenship (although that is tempting). We hear of Mexican immigrants dreaming of la reconquista the taking back of the southwest to Mexico. Certainly people who feel that way should not be American citizens. We should and can require people to learn English so that they can be fully involved in the culture of the nation. We cannot require them to speak English at home or in their places of business. However, we can stop bilingual education and stop printing ballots in five different languages.
We should require minimum knowledge of our nation´s history and legal structure as a prerequisite to voting. What purpose does it serve if a person votes for a Senator without having any idea what a Senator does? In the current environment we might disenfranchise a very embarrassingly large number of voters. That is okay. It would lead to a renaissance in education if people really value their voting rights. We might find that large numbers of people are not willing to work to earn their voting rights. That is fine with me. If they don´t care about voting, let them sit it out. We will leave the decisions to the people who do. This may sound elitist but it is really the opposite. People who know the facts will not be led around by demagogues. The ones who would be led around by demagogues will be out of the game.
A loyalty oath would not be unreasonable. Every citizen must affirm that their primary loyalty is to the United States of America. Of course most of us came from some other nation and still have some interest in that place. That is fine. As long as we understand that America comes first. Of course the spies and terrorists would lie and sign the oath insincerely. Still it would be one more brick in the wall of a philosophy that states that citizenship is earned not inherited.
A more interesting but less local situation is the one in Israel. There, a Jewish nation has large numbers of Arab citizens who want to do away with the Jewish nation. They are not required or expected to serve in the military. There are also a very small minority of Jews who feel that way. There are Jews who support Israel as a Jewish state who get religious exemptions from military service. Then there are non Jews who very strongly support Israel who are citizens and who serve in the military. All of these groups are every bit equal as far as their citizenship.
As long as the majority of the nation is made up of Jews, who support the Jewish state of Israel, this crazy patchwork can be tolerated. However if demographic trends persist and lead to a situation where Jewish supporters of Israel become a minority they might find the state democratically dismantled. While no Israeli can or should find this acceptable they have no plausible method of stopping it in the absence of a higher birth rate for the Jewish citizens, a lower birthrate for Arab citizens, an increase of Jewish immigration, or a migration out of the nation by Arab citizens.
Other nations face similar problems as European nations are overrun by immigrants from the Middle East or Africa. These immigrants often have much higher birthrates than the local Europeans and little or any real connection to their new nation. While an African immigrant can come to the United States and become a great American, his brother who moves to France will never become a real Frenchman. The European nations rely more on ethnic homogeneity than the United States does for national identity.
In all cases these are uncomfortable questions. In a politically correct world they are not even asked in polite company. However, they are going to have to be faced. Otherwise many citizens may find their nations as they know it lost, without ever having been consulted in the process.
Okay thats one flaw of the mob rule system.
This is one of the major problems with our citizenship laws.
I believe that the child's citizenship should be tied to the citizenship of the father. If an American woman gave birth to Bin Laden's child, the child would NOT be considered an American. If the identity of the father is uncertain, then the child is denied citizenship.
I believe this would help to limit the masses of Mexican babies receiving U.S. citizenship now and stop the "Babies R U.S." mentality that our citizenship laws have fostered.
And what about those from other countries who own vast amounts of land in the U.S.?
Do we really want them voting?
I think most of the folks to whom we attribute all of our best soundbites on "democracy" would be appalled and horrified by the grotesque twisting of the word to enable what appears to be an increasingly amoral tyranny of the masses for the purposes of certain Interested Parties and stakeholders.
that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic;
that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;
that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law;
that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law;
that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by law;
and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion;
so help me God.
The franchise, once expanded, may never ever voluntarily contract, because that assumes that the majority of looters would actually be willing to sacrifice their legal mandate to loot. A system reaches a certain point of corruption where reform is literally impossible. Change can only be effected through revolution or conquest.
I think we are at that point.
Anyone expecting to have a say in how their country is transformed better have some THICK skin if their opinion deviates from the accepted plan. The "four legs good" crowd will be after 'em with a vengence.
No, they are not. Voting is a privilege of citizenship, not a right, and awarding citizenship is the province of the states, the fraudulently enacted 14th and 15th amendments notwithstanding. The author avoids addressing the obvious fact that the 14th amendment stands the relationships between the states and federal government and between the people and both of those levels of government on its head as it existed prior to republican meddling with the design of our form of government. He also fails to observe that the declaration of voting as a right makes it impossible for states to enforce laws designed to stop vote fraud.
He had a good idea but failed to explore it.
Good observations. The rule that only property owners were be allowed to vote was based on the obvious fact that only those who pay taxes should have the privilege of voting for officers whose authority is such that they can levy taxes and spend the revenues gained for the state. Taxpayers were landowners in those early days before so many kinds of taxes were created.
That idea is still very valid; only those who pay taxes should have the privilege of voting for those who levy and spend tax revenues. Welfare recipients should not be allowed to become a bloc of voters.
The 14th through 17th amendments should all be rescinded in order to restore our republican form of government to its original design. The kind of government we have now, thanks to those four amendments, is that of a legislative democracy. That is not the form of government laid out in the original articles of the Constitution.
Until the child turns 18, at which time the adult can apply and take the oath of citizenship. One of the requirements of citizenship would be 10 years of uninterrupted continuous residency within the United States.
thats exactly what has happened... .
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.