The second half of my conversation with Robert took on a different turn than that of the previous half. This time we discussed President Obama and how his background affects his understanding of governments place in society. This part of the conversation covered a wide advance of silliness, and thank God we got a lot of the dumb shit out of the way.
One of Robert’s main objections to Obama’s leadership was a matter of his birth and upbringing. He believed even if the president was born in Hawaii the fact that his father was Kenyan should not make him eligible. What he sited as examples of the abuses of citizenship were cases when foreign nationals have children in the U.S. and are citizens who receive benefits of being citizens. What I discovered is that Robert was ignorant to some of the basic principles of U.S. citizenship. Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution states the requirements to be President:
“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen at the time of adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible for the Office of the President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained thirty-five years and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.”
~ U.S. Constitution
Okay. So in conjunction with the Constitution we must also have an understanding of what it takes to be a born citizen to determine the President’s eligibility. There are two ways. You have to be born within the territory of the United States (Jus Soli), or you have to have a parent who was a citizen (Jus Sanguinis).
Bottom line, even if the President was born in Indonesia his mother was a natural born citizen and thus making him a natural citizen. If there is any controversy, President Obama maybe eligible for dual citizenship through his father depending on Kenyan law. So anyway you shake it, he meets all requirements to be President.
Robert’s next concern was that because Barack’s upbringing in Indonesia shaped him in a way that makes his values different from most Americans. He is unlike us. Therefore, he was not fit for office. I had a confession to make to Robert, due to this line of reasoning I was not fit for office of the Presidency.
I was raised in a household with my Papi, a Mexican national. From the age of three to about nineteen, I have visited Mexico every year and at times more than once in the same year. This experience shaped me. I have an understanding of Mexican history, culture and I also learned Spanish. I was not raised as a protestant but as a catholic due to my Papi. The interracial household that I was raised in affected how I view my fellow Americans and informed me how it was possible to love anybody despite cultural origins.
Robert began to backtrack on that particular stance. Especially after I brought it to his attention that he was born in British Guyana in 1946 and emigrated to New York in 1966. It wasn’t until 1969 that he became a naturalized citizen. His unique experience did not contribute to him being any less of an American. He admitted I was correct. This gave me a chance to stand on my soapbox, stated something along these lines:
“America is a different type of country in the sense that ethnic group, ancestral origins, faith, gender, or sexual orientation are not conditions to become an American. We are a nation formed under the idea that we can create a society under the rule of law, which is our Constitution. If you swear to obey and abide by the Constitution , you are an American. This guiding principle was been and will continue to be proficient in turning many peoples into one. In that regards, Barack is just like us.”
Then I started to think, was there someone else that carried a similar sense of America? I later found this quote:
” For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace”
~ Barack Obama- Inaugural Address 2009
Robert is a great guy. There are significant political differences between us, however there are many things that unite us. Yet, in our political dialogue we more divided as ever. Robert wants the rule of law to be protected and enforced. He wants a system of fairness where everyone has the opportunity to success or fail on their own merit, rather than what class they were born into. I want this. I imagine most Americans want this as well. Why are we so divided? Maybe the right question is, who benefits from this division? Maybe then we can continue figure out a way to save our society.