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Foreign-Born Presidents

By Matthew Yglesias

"Foreign-Born Presidents"

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Ogged fires back in defense of the theory that we should fear President Granholm selling us down the river to the Canadians:

Yglesias and his commenters seem to be of one mind that the exclusion of naturalized citizens from the presidency is self-evidently anachronistic. It’s always seemed like a good idea to me. Nationalism is real, and even for immigrants like me, who have very few memories of the country of their birth, the old country retains a special tug, and you don’t want a president with special feelings for any country other than the one he’s elected to serve.

I don’t think this will wash at all. We don’t systematically exclude non-”natural born” citizens from any other government posting even though loyalty to the United States is presumably something you’re looking for in a Secretary of State, a general, a National Security Advisor, etc. But more to the point, this is why we have elections. There are a lot of characteristics I consider generally undesirable in a president, but we don’t constitutionally exclude people from office on the basis of anything other than birth nationality and age. What’s more, for a range of possible countries to have affections for, would we actually care if the president had dual loyalties? What would the problem with an emotional attachment to Austria or Denmark be? And why would your birth nationality matter more for these purposes than the issue of where you were raised?

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