Monday, August 19, 2013

Who cares about Ted Cruz and his citizenship?

So right-wing mouth-frother Ted Cruz, senator from the not-so-great state of Texas, has released his birth certificate. And, yes, he was born in Calgary -- that is, not in the U.S. -- and is a dual citizen of Canada and the U.S. (given that he was born in Canada to an American mother). Which, yes, means he likely can be president, as he is a "natural born" American, unlike, say, Arnold Schwarzenegger, though there may be some lingering dispute as to the meaning of "natural born." But the facts of his birth will continue to hound him politically:

The circumstances of Cruz's birth have fueled a simmering debate over his eligibility to run for president. Knowingly or not, dual citizenship is an apparent if inconvenient truth for the tea party firebrand, who shows every sign he’s angling for the White House.

"Senator Cruz became a U.S. citizen at birth, and he never had to go through a naturalization process after birth to become a U.S. citizen," said spokeswoman Catherine Frazier. "To our knowledge, he never had Canadian citizenship."

Well, apparently he still has it, whether he likes it or not, and so he'd have to go through the formal process of renouncing it.

As a Canadian, I'd welcome any such renouncing. Cruz being a Canadian citizen, even unwillingly, or unwittingly, makes this country worse.

While I loathe him, though, and while I understand that a political leader -- particularly one with presidential ambitions -- needs avoid not just the reality but even the perception of conflicted loyalty, this is all quite ridiculous.

It's abundantly clear that Cruz is an American. He may have dual citizenship, like a lot of people do (including me), but in this case one of his citizenships is merely a technicality. (I'm Canadian and British. I'd say I'm overwhelmingly Canadian, but I have close family in England and have voted in the U.K. and so have more of a connection there. Indeed, I would say that I'm far more American, as I'm one-quarter American, than Cruz is Canadian.) There's no good reason why the location of his birth should automatically disqualify him from the presidency. (I would even say that the "natural born" rule should be removed from the Constitution.)

It's either opportunism or jingoism that is fueling this "birther" controversy, and of course it's also the latter that will come in to play if he's criticized for holding dual citizenship.

But, fine, let him recounce his Canadian citizenship if he must. The key fact about Cruz isn't his birthplace or the extent to which he's a Canadian but rather his political views: he's a Tea Party extremist out on the fringe even of the extremist Republican Party, a faux right-wing populist with a crazy right-wing anti-government agenda.

It's those views -- what he is politically, what he stands for, what he would do in office -- that truly should disqualify him from the presidency.

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  • Matt Yglesias tweeted that it could be just like another recent leader: Cruz can renounce his foreign citizenship shortly before taking power. Once in power he can invade Canada!

    I'm not sure when exactly the Republicans would disband Congress and give Cruz complete power.

    By Anonymous Frank Moraes, at 11:43 PM  

  • It was my understanding that under the revised Citizenship Act (1973?) the Canadian government doesn't recognize simple renunciation, you actually have to sue to have the government strip it from you. Not so?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:09 AM  

  • And it's my understanding that Ted's father being a Cuban national makes Ted a Cuban citizen as well. The elder Cruz only gained US citizenship in 2005 under the Cuban Adjustment Act.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 10:21 AM  

  • .

    The simple answer to your question is, 'no one' cares.

    It is just a pure joy to watch the delicious irony play itself out.

    It is the slow season and the circus clown car remains off stage; so the audience has to have something to entertain itself with.

    Ema Nymton
    ~ @ : o ?

    By Blogger Ema Nymton, at 5:53 AM  

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