I know. This sounds like a silly question. Expectant parents ask a lot of those. Lying in bed at night, counting kicks, The Boy and I try and imagine what our little one will be when he grows up. Will he want to bravely go where no man has gone before and be an astronaut? Will he be good at sports and become a baseball player? What about an attorney like his daddy? Or a musician like his mama? Will he follow in the footsteps of so many in our family and become a medical professional? Will he be able to tell a good story and become a writer or director or actor? Will he want to enter the military or public service? Will he want to be President of the United States? He's not even here yet and the world is so full of possibilities. Except, perhaps, for that last one.
If you've been watching the news from/in the United States lately, then you're probably aware of something called The Birther Movement. In a nutshell, there are those who believe that President Barack Obama's birth certificate is a big ol' fake, that he was not born in the US state of Hawaii but in Kenya, is not an American citizen, and thus ineligible to be President of the United States. They are a pretty passionate group of people, as evidenced by this video from a town hall meeting in Delaware.
I find this movement particularly upsetting because, in less than one month, I will be giving birth to our bouncing baby boy here in London. He will have a British birth certificate. He will not be a British subject. He will, by right of blood, be a US citizen like his mother and father and generations of both our families stretching all the way back to Colonial America. Our son will have 5 great grandparents who served the US during World War II, as well as two grandfathers who are retired from the the US Armed Forces. He will be raised as an American in an American household that happens to be in the United Kingdom. And yet, this woman and everyone cheering her on is implying that these things will mean nothing if, in 35 years, my child wants to run for the highest office in the land simply because he has a foreign birth certificate. According to this movement, it's not the blood ties of your family and national identity that make you a citizen of a country, but the actual physical place you are born. By that rational, any foreign worker, visitor or tourist to the United States, legal or not, could give birth to a child there and that child would have one right that my son would never have - to be elected and serve his country as President.
As of 2007 there were an estimate 6.6 million US citizens living abroad. That's more people living outside the US than in the state of Washington or Arizona or Indiana or Tennessee or any of the other 32 states with populations less than 6.6 million people. Should the children of these Americans be forever excluded from having the option of running for President or Vice President because their parents happened to be working or living in or visiting another country at the time of their birth? Does this somehow make them less American?
I try not to delve into the political here on Belle Abroad, despite the the fact that I increasingly find myself being pulled in that direction. That's not what this blog is suppose to be about. But this movement upsets me so much that I find myself needing to ask you, dear reader, to close your eyes and imagine your perfect candidate. This person is charismatic and articulate, funny and smart, tough and compassionate and full of ideas - most of them you actually agree with! They have a long history of public service and devotion to their family and all the other things that make them your perfect candidate.
Now, would you really not vote for them just because, even though they are US citizens and have been since birth, they weren't actually born in the United States?