“I’ll Be Back” For The Rest Of The Constitution

The old adage of “if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again” is alive and well in the U.S. Senate. For a particular proposed amendment has been put on the table for the thirteenth time since 1868. I kid you not. And, no, I don’t mean the attempt to define marriage as between a man and a woman – that appalling idea is fairly new to Constitutional politics I believe – or to ban desecration of the American flag, one almost as ridiculous, but with far more history. I mean, of course, an amendment to allow foreign-born citizens to be elected president – the so-called Schwarzenegger Amendment. While 12 failures might discourage some people, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch is unfazed. The measure has been in the works for more than one year, but on Tuesday, this was the subject of a hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Hatch, the major proponent of the amendment and the committee’s chairman, led the discussion of why the ban on foreign-born presidents, outlined in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, should be eradicated. Support for the amendment is fairly straightforward. In a nation built on immigration, where one is supposedly not bound by birthright, but can seize a future infinitely better than the past, America’s grandest dream is, for some, beyond the bounds of fulfillment. Today’s United States doesn’t face the concerns of the framers – foreign powers attempting to subvert a fledgling nation, Alexander Hamilton, etc. Opponents feel a more compelling reason must be present to alter the country’s highest and most sacred legal doctrine. That, or they’re afraid Hugh Grant’s boyish charm and perfectly regal accent could win over Americans’ hearts even more than Arnold’s permeating strength and Kennedy connections. Schwarzenegger’s rise to the governorship of California has given new life to this debate. He publicly promotes this amendment, and many believe he would seek the presidency if given the opportunity. This would surely supply the rest of the world some good laughs. As if electing actor Ronald Reagan wasn’t odd enough, a bodybuilder-turned-actor who doesn’t properly pronounce the name of his home state would be even better. He’d probably extend his “girlie-man” remarks (By the way, anyone who demanded an apology over that has lost any sense of humor and/or reality they once possessed) to the entire Democratic Party, Congress, Vermont and, of course, France. However, Arnold Schwarzenegger is not America’s only foreign-born governor, as many of you already know. Jennifer M. Granholm, governor of the great state of Michigan, hails from Canada. She expressly states that she has no interest in running for President, though. That might be a null point anyway because would Americans really elect a Canadian as president? Austrian, sure. British, yeah. But Canadian? Our comical, friendly, harmless, Mountie neighbors? Nah. We would feel like we were mocking ourselves. But this rekindling of interest in Article II, Section 1 got me wondering what other clauses in the Constitution have been mildly forgotten about. Article II, Section 1 also contains Electoral College, which, after the 2000 election, certainly hasn’t been forgotten, but bizarrely remains. And let us not forget that Section 3 not only allows the president to call Congress into session, it allows him adjourn it “to such Time as he shall think proper” too. Article I, Section 2 caps the number of Representatives in the House at “one for every thirty Thousand,” which, I think, is one of those things that just make us say “okay” and move on. Section 3 stipulates “Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings (and) punish its Members for disorderly Behavior.” I know that if I were a Congressman I’d encourage punishment by making the Representative actually sit in the House chamber all day (If you don’t know what I mean, watch C-Span for a few hours – I bet you won’t make it). And, of course, Section 9 reminds us that “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States,” which proves that being a celebrity in Great Britain is better than being one in America, because, hey, who doesn’t want to be knighted? My favorites happen to found in Article IV. Section 3 prohibits from forming through either the dissolution or merger of existing states without the consent of the state legislatures(s) and Congress. But it doesn’t rule it out, which I find fascinating. So, if North Dakota continues to be upset over the connotation of “North” and wants to be plain “Dakota,” maybe it can just combine with South Dakota and alleviate all the naming trouble. Or, if Upstate and Downstate New York want to be different states instead of just acting like different states, they can be! Who knew? However, Article IV, Section 4 is the best, without a doubt. It is here that “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” Phooey. There go all my experimental master plans. A little oligarchy in Kentucky. Maybe a theocracy in Minnesota. Some anarchy in Oregon. Even the crowning of King Bob Stoops in Oklahoma. So, we Americans keep tweaking our Constitution. It doesn’t happen often, and it certainly doesn’t happen easily, but that doesn’t lessen our resolve. It is a way to leave an unalterable mark on the evolution of the United States and to proclaim values and priorities. It was shaped over 225 years ago, casting its magnificent shadow over a nation in constant search of prosperity and freedom. It takes quite a bit of muscle to modify its definitions, its vision. But lord knows, Arnold Schwarzenegger has a lot of muscle.