Read an Excerpt
"This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened. It has become one country because all the people who came here had an equal chance to develop their talents." -President John F. Kennedy
Our republic rests on the sturdy legs of our Constitution. This formidable document encapsulates the three core principles that have driven our society since its inception: equality, freedom, and opportunity.
The vision and wisdom of our Founding Fathers have produced a society that, despite occasional failings and minor imperfections, has been and continues to be a dynamic model for how a representative democracy can and should work. The embodiment of our essential beliefs and values has also served as a prototype of how a democratic nation can assimilate millions of people from other lands, cultures, and traditions and help them become contributing and patriotic Americans who are committed to the ideals that this republic embraces.
During the two hundred and twenty-nine years of our history, we have amended our Constitution only twenty-seven times. That this document remains resilient and relevant after two centuries clearly bears witness to the remarkable vision and wisdom of our Founding Fathers. This notwithstanding, our nation has seen fit to make occasional changes in the covenants that encapsulate the core principles of this nation. Examples include: the 13th Amendment that prohibits slavery or involuntary servitude; the 15th Amendment that guarantees the right of all races to vote; the 19th Amendment that guarantees the right of women to vote; and the 26th amendment that guarantees the right of eighteen-year-olds to vote.
The American Congress justifiably moves very carefully when it comes to making changes in our Constitution. The thinking behind this caution can best be explained by the oft-cited expression: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. There is, however, an essential corollary to this principle: If it is broke, it must be fixed.
To amend the Constitution, two-thirds of Congress must ratify the amendment and three-fourths of the states must vote in favor of the amendment. This ratification process can be timely and subject to political machinations and infighting. Clearly, many of our elected representatives and, indeed, many American citizens are resistant to making revisions. These legislators and citizens must be convinced, and rightfully so, that the revisions are justified.
We are currently facing an historic legislative crossroads where an amendment to the Constitution is both appropriate and long overdue. On July 10, 2003, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch (R) introduced S.J. RES. 15, also known as the Equal Opportunity To Govern Amendment, to the 108th Congress. Here is the exact language Hatch uses in his proposal. "Section 1: A person who is a citizen of the United States, who has been for 20 years a citizen of the United States, and who is otherwise eligible to the Office of President, is not ineligible to that Office by reason of not being a native-born citizen of the United States. Section 2: This article shall not take effect unless it has been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the States not later than 7 years from the date of its submission to the states by the Congress."
Arnold Schwarzenegger-a man who was recently elected Governor of California after the incumbent, Gray Davis, was recalled in a special election-is just one example out of 13 million Americans currently ineligible to seek the Presidency under the provisions of the Constitution. Ironically, as a foreign-born citizen, this man could be nominated to be Secretary of Defense, an Ambassador, or Secretary of State, such as naturalized citizens Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright. Were he a professional soldier, Schwarzenegger could be named Chairman of the Joint Chiefs such as naturalized citizen General John Shalikashvili. Were he a lawyer, Schwarzenegger could be appointed Attorney General or could even be named to the Supreme Court, assuming he receives Congressional approval, such as naturalized citizen Justice Felix Frankfurter.
Despite the fact that the U.S.A. is a land comprised of immigrants past and present, naturalized citizens are prevented from aspiring to the highest elected office in our country. And in spite of the fact that 50,000 foreign-born men and women are now serving in our military and protecting our nation; that a total of 716 of the 3,406 Medal of Honor recipients have been foreign-born; and that countless invaluable contributions have been made to our nation by naturalized citizens, such as Einstein and Bob Hope, they are still excluded from the Presidency. This exclusion creates a two-tiered system of entitlement that is artificial, unfair, unnecessary, and demeaning. The contradiction is especially glaring in view of the fact that our republic is a multicultural society that from its inception has served as a model for democracy and equality throughout the world. The restrictions that currently exist are decidedly un-American and serve no other function than to prohibit talented individuals from making a Presidential contribution to their adopted nation.
In this book we will make an irrefutable case justifying the expedient ratification of the Hatch Amendment so that the law affords every U.S. citizen an equal opportunity in our nation's democratic process. We will also prove that in America, patriotism is a choice, not a birthright.