Thursday, October 29, 2015

Alena Mulhern For President 2040

Alena Mulhern, a 10 year old from Kingston, wants to run for president as an adult. Her mother, Barbara Mulhern, reports saying "unfortunately that's the only thing you can't be" when Alena informed her of this goal (video/source). This is because the constitution states that the President must be a natural-born citizen of the United States. She was adopted from China when she was 10 months old.
Alena, feeling that this is an unfair rule, took her proposal for an amendment to the constitution (regarding the presidency's qualifications to include foreign-born and adopted citizens (specifically children) -source) to a Massachusetts state house committee where she testified for her cause. She states "I would be a great leader and bring people together......I love my country. I want to serve my country, and this is my country" (quote source) and to "just think of all the great candidates that would not be able to serve our country because of a law that came into existence more than 200 years ago" (sourced from video in above paragraph).
>Is her goal to amend this qualification realistic?
>A lot of the Constitution can be argued as out-dated, is this out-dated? What was the Framer's intent in making this qualification for the Presidency? What could happen if this was amended? Would it be better if they had to be adopted as children under a certain age in order to be considered?
>Is patriotism an important quality for a President (Is it important enough to continue Mulhern's crusade- as this her love for her country is one of her main arguments for presidency)
>Does Mulhern's young age play a part in this? (toleration in committee) Would this be taken seriously if it reached higher government institutions?

Photo- still from news video (source)


Danny Halawi said...

Sometime in the future, I believe that there will be a revision of the constitution to allow naturalized citizens to be president. Two hundred years ago, blacks and women were not allowed to vote, but after years of fighting, the 15th and 19th amendments were enacted and gave them the write to do so. Also, gay marriage, which was looked down upon, is now legal in all 50 states. As time passes, our country has been following the framers intent which is that "all men are created equal." The problem though, is that I'm not sure if the constitution will be changed during Alena Mulhern's life time.
Over the past 200 years the constitution has only been amended 27 times. What's more is that the constitution was only amended when there was serious dissent from the people. For example, the 21st amendment, which was adopted to nullify the 18th amendment, was only passed due to the fact that many Americans were outraged by prohibition. Not letting everyone run for president, however, doesn't affect many people in the United States because simply not everyone wants to become president. Not only that, but out of the people who want to run for presidency, not all of them are naturalized citizens. Consequently, due to the lack of attention, I believe it is going to be hard for Alena to change the constitution anytime soon.
Nevertheless, I do support her opinion and I believe that it's in Americans best interest to allow anyone to run for presidency. By limiting the candidates, America is limiting the potential of obtaining a good leader. Sometime in the future, I believe our country will realize this and change the constitution. The time it will take to do this though is uncertain.

Maggie Yeung said...

I see the argument for why people would support the requirement for the president to be a natural born citizen, because it's reasonable that an American citizen will want a "true" American as their president. However, this girl was adopted and brought to the US when she was only 10 months old and it's absurd to think that those first 10 months of her life in China has somehow made her more loyal to her home country that the US. Patriotism is important, but this girl is clearly patriotic, proving that being a natural born citizen should not be a qualification for the presidency. Because this issue isn't super urgent or as controversial as other proposed amendments, it will probably not be a pressing issue to address but when it is, it will hopefully not meet too many opponents.

Monica Mai said...

This is a super interesting post. I think that Mulhern's goal is realistic because throughout history, it's been proven that the constitution has been constantly interpretted in new ways to support the rights of the people. It's not that the constitution should allow adopted children under a certain age to run for president, but rather the constitution should allow anyone to run for president. Just because someone was born in the US doesn't mean they're more patriotic than someone who was born in Greece. Besides, I don't think patriotism is the most important quality in presidency. Sure, it's great to love your country and everything, but what good does that do if your country is doing wrong against its people? I think patriotism to a certain extent is good-- an individual can love his/her country, but they must also be able to take a step back and look at what can be done better and recognize the weaknesses of American government. Due to her young age, her declaration might not be taken seriously. However, if she really feels that strongly at the age of 10 that she wants to be president, I am positive she will continue to pursue higher government institutions to allow citizens who were born in other countries to run of president.

Jared Mayerson said...

I agree with Monica that the Constitution has been amended or interpreted in order to, "support the rights of the people" in the past, and I think it should happen again. However, like Danny said, I don't believe that, "the constitution will be changed during Alena Mulhern's life time." Although I support her argument, it is a large change that will need a lot of support behind it. An amendment to the Constitution would require a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, which wouldn't make it easy. I do think it should happen, though. The framers' original intention was to ensure that our leader is loyal to our nation by being a natural-born citizen but natural-born citizens can be disloyal and people who are not natural-born citizen could be more loyal in some cases, like Alena Mulhern. This qualification keeps her from her dream, one that is not shared by many others her age, so I think that it should be changed.

Emily Shen said...

"Natural-born citizen" does not just refer to Americans who were born in the United States. It refers to Americans who were citizens at birth, and there are two ways for the government to confer citizenship at birth: first is birthright citizenship, meaning that anyone born in the United States is automatically a U.S. citizen, and second is if the baby's parents are already U.S. citizens. For example, former Republican presidential candidate John McCain was a natural-born citizen who was born in the Panama Canal.

I agree with Danny — there have been instances where we have realized the antiquity of the Constitution, but the difficult amendment process makes passing them nearly impossible, especially when the issue is something that doesn't affect a lot of Americans.

I also agree with Maggie that "it's absurd to think that those first 10 months of her life in China has somehow made her more loyal to her home country that the US." In fact, might it potentially be better for a future president to be an immigrant, since diplomacy and cultural awareness is so important in this era of globalization?