Monday, November 17, 2003
Arnold Swarzenegger officially took office today as California's governor. Although the state faces daunting obstacles, there is an air of optimism in Sacramento. Arnold won election with a plurality of 48% of the vote, but I think it is safe to say that a majority of Californians are glad to have him taking over the helm from the beleaguered Gray Davis.
Unfortunately, if the majority of Americans ever wanted Arnold to become president, we'd be unable to elect him. Even if he does a terrific job in California, the U.S. Constitution prevents U.S. citizens who were not born on our soil from becoming president. This may have once made sense when the country was first founded, but now that we are a mature democracy shouldn't voters be able to choose whoever they want? There may be foreign policy reasons why we wouldn't want to choose someone closely tied to another country to be our president, but what if voters weighed that concern and came to the conclusion that it best served our interests to elect someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger? There are other great Americans including the current Governor of Michigan Jennifer Granhold and former secretary of state Henry Kissenger who voters are also barred from choosing to lead us.
Senator Orrin Hatch has introduced a constitutional amendment that would give us the freedom to vote for anyone to be president so long as they have been a citizen for 20 or more years. The bill is known as Senate Joint Resolution 15, and you can follow its status here at the library of congress and read the text here.