The curious case of Senator Ted Cruz

Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz is the presumptive favorite of powerful hard-line Republicans to run for the 2016 Presidential election. But there is a potentially messy problem for Senator Cruz:  He wasn’t born in the United States.

Tomas Mega

With little prospect for Barack Obama accomplishing much in the last two years of his Presidency, attention is turning to probable candidates for the 2016 Presidential election.  Much may depend on the outcome of three factors.

The first is the 2014 Congressional election.  Surely, Republicans will maintain their majority in the House of Representatives.  And there is the real possibility that Democrats may lose their majority in the U.S. Senate. Second, the success or failure of the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare.  Wholly miss-managed from conception through implementation, the President’s signature, socially transformational health care reform effort may be his, and Democrats’, biggest embarrassment.   Further troubles for Obamacare in the next two years may doom any hopes for Democrats. Third, the emergence of Vladimir Putin’s Russia as the influencing power it was before the 1991 collapse and dissolution of the former Soviet Union.  Putin has out-maneuvered and seemingly out-smarted Obama at every opportunity, leaving the President looking weak and timid.  If Iran, China, Syria and North Korea become more aggressive as a result of Russia’s power play in Ukraine, Republicans will seize on the perceived weakness of Obama’s foreign policy.

For Democrats, the current field of candidates includes Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden.  Neither has officially declared themselves as candidates.  Reportedly exhausted from her years in the White House when her husband was President and from her stint as Secretary of State, there are whispers that Clinton has had enough.  Her support of Obamacare, the Benghazi tragedy and her role as Secretary of State under Obama’s “reset” policy toward Putin make her a huge target for a Republican media thrashing.  If Republicans become the majority party in both houses of Congress, she may have little appetite to run for President.

Vice President Joe Biden will be 73 in 2016.  He exacts little excitement among Democrats and the American electorate.  Following two Democratic Presidents who were elected to the office in their forties (Bill Clinton & Obama), its unlikely Biden is going to generate much interest in younger Democrats and women voters, both crucial to Democratic success.  Right now, the leading Democrat contenders don’t have a lot going for them.

For Republicans, it’s a different story.  New Jersey governor Chris Christie, despite being embroiled in the George Washington Bridge traffic jam scandal, is now once again in the good graces of Republicans.  Marco Rubio is distancing himself from his disastrous support of immigration reform and Rand Paul’s brand of Libertarianism has many Conservatives energized. 

And then there is Texas’s U. S. Senator Ted Cruz – Tea Party Ted.

While managing to alienate many in his own party, Tea Party Ted is the presumptive favorite of powerful hard-line Republicans.  Brash, smug, arrogant, condescending and thoroughly irritating, he is the darling of those who proudly proclaim themselves as “true Conservatives.”

But there is a potentially messy problem for Senator Cruz:  He wasn’t born in the United States.  Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution states that:  “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President.” Tea Party Ted was born in Canada, to an American mother and a Cuban father.   Cruz holds dual citizenship in the USA and Canada.  The problem of dual citizenship for a Presidential candidate is obvious:  which country does your allegiance belong to?  In August of 2013, Cruz said he was going to renounce his Canadian citizenship.  As ofthis writing, he has failed to do so.

It’s a complicated, untidy issue for Cruz and Republicans.  By law, since his mother was an American, he is entitled to American citizenship regardless of where he was born.  But he would have to renounce his Canadian citizenship to become President.  And how will Republicans deal with this ‘birther’ issue?  Donald Trump and many others have gone to great lengths to make the case that Obama wasn’t born in the USA, but Kenya (despite Obama producing a birth certificate in the state of Hawaii), therefore wasn’t eligible to be President.  Like Cruz, Obama’s mother was an American citizen at the time of his birth.  Republicans who ascribe to the ‘birther’ notion could never prove Obama wasn’t born in the USA.  But there is no doubt where Cruz was born, and it wasn’t in America.  When asked if Canadian born Cruz was eligible to be President, Mr. Trump told ABC News:  “Perhaps not.”  If Republicans support Cruz’s eligibility, their hypocrisy regarding the ‘birther’ uproar will be obvious.

But there is precedent for someone not being born in America to run for President.  George Romney, the father of 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, ran for the Presidency in 1968.  He was born in Mexico, to Mormon missionary parents.  And U.S. Senator John McCain ran for President in 2008.  He was born in the Panama Canal Zone.  In both cases, little was made of their place of birth. 

If Cruz renounces his Canadian citizenship, in all likelihood he can become President.  It is also likely that a challenge to the constitutionality of it will be mounted.  The Supreme Court has never ruled on the issue.  Sarah Duggin, a professor of law at the Catholic University and an expert on the subject says it is “one of the most deceptively simple, complex issues.  Unfortunately, we cannot say for sure without a definitive Supreme Court ruling.”   Assuming he is the Republican nominee, the curious case of Senator Ted Cruz may just end up being resolved by the Conservative majority U.S. Supreme Court.


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