Wasn’t Ted Cruz born in Canada? How is he eligible to be President of the United States?
Quite the ruckus has been made in the last 24 hours over Texas Senator Ted Cruz being the first official candidate to enter the 2016 Presidential election race. Opinions have been all over the place, with many conservatives ecstatic and strongly supporting him, and many liberals laughing at him, claiming that he’s the best thing that could happen for Democrats in 2016, because in their minds, there is no way he has a chance of winning. One common thread between Republicans and Democrats alike is that Cruz does not have many friends in either party. He is viewed as an anti-establishment kind of guy, who frequently goes against the grain with not only President Obama, but also frequently with Republican Party Leadership.
But regardless of whether you believe the man is a genius or a nutcase, there has been one common thread trending on both sides with the news of his candidacy:
Is Ted Cruz a Natural Born Citizen?
Article II, Section I of the 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; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
The 14th Amendment states:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.
The issue arrises with the definition of ‘natural born citizen.’ The phrase does not appear anywhere else in the Constitution. Ted Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada to an American mother and Cuban-born father. Under current U.S. law, this extended citizenship to Ted Cruz, even though he was born on foreign soil, because his mother was a U.S. citizen. In fact, apparently unbeknownst to him, Ted Cruz was a dual-citizen of both the United States and Canada. When legal scholars brought the issue up last year saying that he was likely still a dual-citizen without realizing it, Ted Cruz officially renounced his Canadian citizenship. In his statement, he said:
“Now the Dallas Morning News says that I may technically have dual citizenship. Assuming that is true, then sure, I will renounce any Canadian citizenship. Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American by birth and as a U.S. senator; I believe I should be only an American.”
Similar debates have arisen quite a few times throughout history, most recently with President Barack Obama. In addition, 2008 Presidential candidate John McCain was also not born in the United States. He was born in the Panama Canal Zone to U.S. citizen parents, but the Senate passed a bipartisan resolution stating that he was indeed qualified to run.
While the issue has never been tested by the Supreme Court, most legal scholars agree that Ted Cruz is in fact eligible as a natural-born citizen to run for President. Just 12 months after our Constitution became effective in 1789, Congress passed the Naturalization Act of 1790, attempting to clarify the ‘natural born’ issue:
And the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond Sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born Citizens: Provided, that the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States…
In addition, two lawyers who represented both Republican and Democrat Presidents wrote in the Harvard Law Review that Cruz does in fact meet the constitutional standard to run for the Presidency. They go into quite a lot of detail as well.
None of this isn’t to say that there will still be someone who tries to challenge his eligibility in court in the coming months, but Cruz is obviously pretty confident that there aren’t any issues, shown by his own release of his birth certificate. Why bother running for President if you think you’re not even eligible?
And whether you support him or not, I personally wouldn’t be too quick to jump on the ‘too extreme’ or ‘unelectable’ bandwagon that everyone seems to be harping on about. It may be what you believe, but history does not favor that conclusion. Let me remind you of a Time Magazine article from 1980, when Presidential nominee Ronald Reagan was down by quite a large margin in the polls to Carter, and was cited that he too was ‘unelectable’ and ‘extreme,’ and yet came back to one of the most crushing wins in history, defeated Carter 489-49.
Cruz’s views may be extreme in your eyes, but that definitely doesn’t make him unelectable. Republicans were told in 2008 that Huckabee was too extreme and unelectable, and then told the same in 2012 with Santorum. Both times, the most moderate candidate in McCain and Romney was nominated, and both times suffered a crushing defeat; even more-so in 2012. The candidate in the past 3 and a half decades that has always won, was always the one who played to their base.
In 1980, ultra-conservative Reagan defeated Carter, and won reelection again in 1984 against moderate Walter Mondale running on the same ‘extremist-by-todays-standards’ platform.
In 1988, George H.W. Bush, (Reagan’s V.P.), only won because he campaigned on the promise of continuing the Reagan years. When it was discovered in his first term that he was not nearly as conservative as his predecessor, he was easily defeated in 1992 by Bill Clinton.
Republicans heard the same argument in 1996, that they had to nominate someone ‘electable’ and moderate in order to win back the White House. It didn’t work then either, and Bob Dole suffered a crushing defeat.
In 2000, ‘far-right’ candidate George W. Bush defeated more moderate Al Gore, and again more-moderate John Kerry in 2004.
Barack Obama trounced the moderate Republicans in 2008 and 2012 by going very far to the left.
Now, this is just my unprofessional analysis, but going back to 1980, the party that seems to win has not won based on the premise of compromise and reaching across the aisle. The party that has always won has been the party that played to their base, and not to the middle. Millions of registered Republicans didn’t turn out to vote in 2008 and 2012 because they strongly disliked their candidates. Yes, Independents play a role to an extent in every election, but the candidate that wins is the one that turns out their base, where the majority of the votes are. Republicans have dismally failed to do that the last two Presidential election cycles. That’s why if extremely moderate Jeb Bush gets the nominee in 2016, the Republicans will once again lose the White House, as there are millions of conservatives who can’t stand the guy.
The Republicans may lose regardless in 2016 due to other reasons, but if history is any indication, someone like Ted Cruz is actually much more electable than someone like Jeb Bush. He’s also not going to go down without a fight. Famed Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz repeatedly cites Cruz as one of the smartest students he’s ever had, and you don’t get to be a National Debate Champion from Princeton by being an idiot.
It may not be ideal or what many on either side want, but the candidate that goes the furthest to the right or to the left, and appears the most uncompromising, will be the winner in 2016.
Despite what your opinions are of Senator Cruz on his eligibility or his policies, he is very likely here to stay.
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