2004-10-21 / This Week's Attitude

Change The Law For Arnold’s Sake—Hasta La Vista, Baby!

The outcome of the upcoming presidential election in less than two weeks remains uncertain, but some Republicans already seem to be looking ahead for a viable candidate to succeed this year’s eventual winner, regardless if it’s George Bush or John Kerry.

So it came as no surprise that a year after GOP congressional representatives proposed amending the U.S. Constitution to open the door for foreign-born citizens to be president, they recently revived the issue, which is currently off limits to naturalized citizens.

The proposition has but one singular motive — boosting the chances of 57-year-old Austrian-born Republican California Governor Arnold Schwarz-enegger, a former body builder and movie star, to become the second Hollywood actor in history to become eligible to run for the nation’s highest office.

In a transparent attempt to woo support from the nation’s budding immigrant communities, which for decades had been a bailiwick of the Democratic party, Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is currently considering whether or not to revise Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution, said, “It is time for…elected representatives to begin the process that can result in removing this artificial, outdated, unnecessary and unfair barrier.”

This is nothing more than a blatant effort to amend the Constitution merely so the former box office star, and the Republican Party’s rising star, can possibly run for president in 2008. Guess the GOP figures if just one-tenth of the audiences that loved his movies votes for him, Schwarzenegger could take the White House as easily as he slays the bad guys in his box-office hits.

I’m not xenophobic, but while this proposal appears to be a magnanimous gesture to the nation’s immigrants, at this point it has one purpose for one individual. After all, when was the last time you saw Republicans — or Democrats for that matter — embrace immigrant groups, except to curry favor for their votes.

Amending the Constitution to allow foreign-born Americans to vie for the presidency is a logical idea, considering the increasing number of immigrants that reside in communities from coast to coast. However, the amendment should not apply to Schwarzenegger, who, incidentally, still maintains his Austrian citizenship. It would not be proper for Schwarzenegger, or any other naturalized citizen, to be allowed to run for president while remaining loyal to their native land.

However, the former Hollywood movie hero may never even get the opportunity since the Constitu-tional amendment process requires approval from two-thirds of Congress and 75 percent of the states. Only 27 amendments have successfully endured the laborious procedure. Most recently, discussions of amendments to ban flag burning and gay marriage have fittingly fallen by the wayside.

Indeed, there should be far more qualified candidates — men and women — than Schwarzenegger in

the not too distant future. We certainly don’t need a politician who mocks his opponents as “girlie men.” The presidency demands tact, savoir-faire, statesmanship, and, yes, humor, but not politically incorrect insults from someone who rose to prominence more for his brawn than his brains.

It’s especially ironic that gun-loving, NRA-funded Republicans, who staunchly defend the Second Amendment as gospel whenever gun control advocates call for disarming citizens, yet now want to change the Constitution, disregarding the Founding Fathers’ intention, because it suits their objective.

It doesn’t take a Rhodes scholar to realize this nation will one day have a lot more immigrants – from no less than three continents — elected to local and state offices than there are today. Therefore, there’s a possibility on them one day could meet the other criteria for the White House should the opportunity exist. We are, after 226 years, still a nation of immigrants. But right now that scenario is as unlikely as a woman, African American, Hispanic or Jew being elected president.

The United States has come a long way since the days when it was not uncommon for businesses to post signs reading “Foreigners Need Not Apply” or some other notice discriminating some other nationality or religion. But, as far as imagining Arnold Schwarzenegger in the White House — hasta la vista, baby!

This Week’s


By Neil S. Friedman

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