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I have observed a number of times that the irrational nature of the debate over Barack Obama’s eligibility has so dumbed down the constitutional question that we run the risk of losing sight of the founders’ intent for all time.
If you think I overstate the case, consider what happened in New Hampshire last week.
There was a debate in the state legislature about whether presidential candidates should have to prove constitutional eligibility – not this year, mind you, but in future years.
The House Election Committee in the state legislature considered a bill that would simply require presidential candidates, beginning in 2013, to submit certified copies of their birth certificates before they would be awarded ballot position.
Simple bill. Would seem like common sense. Who could possibly be against the vetting of presidential candidates for ballot position in the future – far removed from the controversy over Barack Obama?
Yet, this bill was defeated in committee by a vote of 14-3.
Why? Presumably because 14 members of the committee did not want to be labeled “birthers.” There simply is no other explanation for it – unless they are in favor of constitutionally unqualified candidates actually getting on the ballot in the important first primary state.
What would be so egregious about producing an actual birth certificate? Is that a standard too high for presidential candidates in America in the 21st century?
The common-sense bill was sponsored by Republican Reps. Susan DeLemus and Larry Rappaport. DeLemus went to lengths to point out to her colleagues that it would not take effect until after the 2012 election – meaning it is not another attempt to keep Obama off the November ballot.
Here’s what David Bates, the chairman of the Election Law Committee, had to say about the matter: “If this is to be considered at a future time, it could be considered on the basis of its merits alone and not any association with the controversy we’ve experienced. Quite frankly, with the circus that ensued around this more recently it’s really impossible to adequately, objectively consider the policy merits of this with the fiasco the press made out of it.”
In other words, this potato was too hot to deal with – even removed from any association with Obama’s controversy.
You just can’t talk about it. You can’t have a rational debate about it. Obama and the media have indeed made a circus out of the Constitution.
Listen to what Rep. David Pierce, the ranking Democrat on the committee, had to say about it. He said his concern was that requiring a simple, valid birth certificate could disenfranchise citizens who don’t have the document for various reasons, such as being born in a remote location or into a family that objects to birth certificates for religious reasons.
Are you going to tell me this is a rational debate?
DeLemus made an important point in the discussion. She said she was unaware until she challenged Obama’s status as a “natural born citizen” that “there’s no vehicle to uphold the requirements found in the Constitution.”
And, of course, she’s right. There is no vehicle. Nobody vets presidential candidates to determine if they are legally eligible to hold office under the highest law of the land.
“It’s to shore up the Constitution and make sure we’re sticking to the Constitution – that’s the purpose of the bill,” DeLemus said.
DeLemus said she knew the bill wouldn’t be popular.
“It’s so controversial, I think a lot of people shied away from it,” she said.
Indeed, she was right.
People continue to shy away from this issue. It’s explosive. It’s downright dangerous to be a strict advocate of the Constitution in America today. Doing so opens you up to charges of “conspiracy theorist,” “dangerous fanatic” and “birther.”
Obama has wrought many destructive policies on America in his nearly four years in office. But perhaps none so destructive as his intentional abuse of the Constitution.
And he’s got many willing accomplices in the media, politics and judiciary.
We’ve seen a total abdication of authority, leadership, commitment to the Constitution and, frankly, sanity.