The Treacherous 14th Amendment Con Game

The attack on the Fourteenth Amendment by conservative politicians is nothing more than a red herring, albeit a very dangerous one . Politicians without platform, desperate for votes, are willing to capitalize on populous fears and insecurities in order to achieve their goal to lead a country for which they have no mission or mandate. Their continued obstructionism and fear-mongering has made their plans clear; sabotage the current administration and agitate the citizenry in any way possible. In other words, they have no plan, and certainly no alternative of substance, except to make it as difficult as possible for the government of this country to function.

The Fourteenth Amendment challenge is nothing more than a convenient distraction for a directionless Republican Party that doesn’t mind capitalizing on the fears and prejudices of their base. What is needed is comprehensive immigration reform, with well managed and secure borders, and a responsible and accessible path to citizenship. However, that would neither effectively pander to the xenophobia of their base, nor provide them with their much needed political smoke-screen.

Birthright Citizenship, also referred to as jus soli, the right of soil, is practiced in many countries of the world, including both of America’s neighbours, Canada and Mexico. It is a practice that predates America and the American constitution. Its origins in this country, like most of the American legal code, can be traced to English Common Law. As a practice of citizenship recognition, it is the opposite of jus sanguinis, or the right of blood, which makes citizenship a matter of race or ethnicity.

A child born in America to undocumented parents is not guilty of any crime. That child’s parents are guilty only of a non-violent crime against policy and procedure. It is not a crime against a person, or a crime against humanity. It is a violation of policy and procedure born often out of necessity and desperation. To deny these children citizenship to the country in which they were born, and to the only country in which they have ever resided, based on the ethnic heritage of their parents, because their parents committed a non-violent crime, is absolutely unconscionable.

Ask yourself this; If citizenship is not based on where one is born, on what would citizenship be based? If not jus soli, then what? The only answer is jus sanguinis, their blood, their ethnic or racial heritage. The very principles of prejudice and bigotry, racism, xenophobia, and eugenics, that required a civil war to end, would once again be institutionalized. America, as a bastion of freedom, liberty, and equality, would be a memory; a failed experiment.

To exact a legal punishment against a child because of the actions of their parents is inexcusable. To treat children as less than individual, without their own individual rights intact, is a grave injustice.

Interestingly, most of the proponents of this legislation are also against women’s reproductive rights. Their concern for the welfare of children seems to end there. As long as the tenets of their religion are adhered to, and forced onto all members of society, they seem to have no further concern, nor do they seem to accept responsibility, for the negative impact that such a bastardization of the Constitution would impose on the young lives of these Americans.

Any action changing this provision of the constitution would render the inalienable right of an American citizen, their fundamental right to citizenship, no longer inalienable, but conditional. The rights of a citizen born in this country would be subject to the approval of others who would pass their judgement based solely on the individual’s heritage and their parents criminal record. This completely contravenes the purpose of, as well as the principles enshrined in, the Bill of Rights. If inalienable rights are allowed to become conditional, subject to the governance and approval of others, the foundation of the American Constitution will be profoundly perverted.

Politicians stumping on this issue know they can’t effect these changes. They realize the unlikeliness of ever coming close to causing such a fundamental change to the constitution. They understand the decades that would have to be invested in order to achieve their stated goals. The Equal Rights Amendment took 49 years, from 1923 until 1972. They don’t care. They need this distraction, and they need it now.

Every time a society is beset with economic challenges a scape-goat is identified and targeted. This is a theme that has repeated itself throughout history in America as well as globally. Immigrants, minorities, and those identified as different, are always the easiest targets. Fear, insecurity, ignorance, propaganda, and unscrupulous politicians, combine to create a perfect storm, raining intolerance and injustice on those least equipped to defend themselves. It’s not necessary to be a student of history to recall the horrific results of such hysteria in Germany, as well as the United States, less than a century ago.

The Conservative politicians that not only cater to the base instincts of a distressed populous, but work to inflame divisive sentiments, do so for their own convenience. They know that their ‘Amend the Fourteenth Amendment’ rhetoric is bogus; at least most of them do. They know how long it would take and how unlikely it is that they could implement the changes they’re suggesting. They are aware that the Equal Rights Amendment took 49 years. They don’t care. They simply need the fight to last until November, and then be available to be stirred up again in 2012.

The politically savvy veterans understand precisely what they are doing. Unfortunately, there are also the Sharron Angles, Michele Bachmanns, Ken Bucks, Sarah Palins, Louie Gohmerts, Tom Emmers, Grahams, Grassleys, Hayworths, and more than just a few others, who are perhaps intellectually or morally impaired enough to honestly believe this fear-mongering and scapegoating. Not all conservatives are completely disingenuous, some are simply stupid.

This is the result of the Grand Old Party having continued on its thirty plus year journey away from center and towards the nether regions of socially conservative Christian nationalists. In their bid to salvage their base after it was all but destroyed in the 1970’s, Republicans inadvertently opened the door to these extreme elements. Their continued loss of credibility after the Bush Jr. presidency left them with few options other than to embrace these theocratic and ideological hard-liners. The Republican leadership now finds itself beholden to, and infested by, the very base they intended to exploit. They have allowed this extreme Right to so thoroughly saturate their party that they put themselves in danger of actually having to pursue these disastrous objectives. It’s becoming hard to tell the tail from the dog.

Aside from this growing contingent of radicals, Conservative politicians know that America needs immigration reform. They’ve proposed it themselves as recently as 2006, when they felt it suited their needs. They also know that they need to exploit this situation in order to disguise that their platform is otherwise void of any substance. The fact that this ruse serves only to divide and further polarize this country seems unimportant to them. It’s convenient, it’s easy, and they have nothing else.

In the event that conservatives are successful with their machinations, some of the neocons, Christian Reconstructionists, and right-wing rubes, will nonetheless continue to rail against the rights and liberties of all that differ from them, while the rest of their more main-stream compatriots quickly change their tune. As soon as their purposes have been served, conservatives will relegate this issue to the back burner where they have kept it for decades, and a prolonged and carefully choreographed show of their supposed attempt to address immigration reform will ensue. This might appear to be a painful and protracted process but no real progress would be intended anyway. Their corporate sponsors would never abide loosing easy access to cheap, unprotected, disenfranchised and dis-empowered labor.

Conservatives, unless they are the xenophobic ‘true believers’, focus on the Fourteenth Amendment right now because they know that it will convolute the political discussion with something that they feel, perhaps erroneously, has only a small chance of producing anything of any import. They don’t want it to, but they don’t want real, meaningful, immigration reform either.

If they are ever reminded of their current statements, and their stand against the Fourteenth Amendment, they will invest all necessary energies into cranking up their spin machine and deflect the blame for the lack of progress they intended all along. While this has been a successful ploy in the past, the current political climate, and their unintentional creation of an energized and organized base of extremists, may find them facing even more intensive purges at the hands of the politically aggressive, theocratic, ideological purists they’ve allowed to be seated at the grown-ups table.

This is nothing more than a cruel and irresponsible political game. It will serve only to further divide the citizens of this country and ramp up racial and ethnic tensions by providing bigots and xenophobes with a false sense of legitimacy. It is a desperate ploy for political capital by a morally bankrupt group of politicians who lack even a most basic plan for leading this country into the future.

Real solutions require real leadership from politicians not willing to lead their people on a path of fear, ignorance, hatred and division. Real leadership requires a formula far removed from what is being offered by conservatives. These problems have solutions, but they cannot be discovered by creating distractions from the real issues and creating new, and greater problems. We need comprehensive immigration reform. All else is a Con game.


11 Responses to The Treacherous 14th Amendment Con Game

  1. RJ August 13, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Liam, good read, what do you propose as to the illegal parents? deportation and child a ward of the state? or Deportation with the child allowed to remain in care of other legal citizens/family or parents forced to decide weather to abandon child or take him back to parents country or origin until such time as the child can return to the US and care for itself.

    • Liam Fox August 13, 2010 at 4:55 pm

      How about allowing the parents to become legal, documented immigrants who can work, pay taxes, support their child, and be contributing members to American society.

  2. RJ August 13, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    unless they are terrorist intent on destruction of this country you mean

    • Liam Fox August 13, 2010 at 6:24 pm

      There’s a good fright-wing stereotype to help bolster the isolationist, xenophobic, nationalism. Perhaps the statue of liberty should be removed, and a big “Stranger Danger” sign put up. lol
      Is that how you see the world? All those scary foreigners? Us = good… them = bad.
      The documentation of immigrants is not a threat to national security. Immigrants are not a threat to national security. An out of date and ineffective immigration policy is. Comprehensive immigration reform is required. The stereotyping and demonization of immigrants is not.

      • RJ August 18, 2010 at 8:37 am

        No the real threat to national security is open borders and a p/c culture which encourages the thinking that in order to be “special” you have to maintion a separate identity within the confines of America.
        I am an American, no hyphen, no other loyalty, I am a heinz 57 mutt that stood side by side for years to defend this country with others of like mind.
        I have taken the oath of office and keep it’s principals close to my heart.
        I am not against immigration, I am against segregation be it self imposed or govt imposed.
        Us good…them bad…how bout me good them bad…you bet…or maybe I just think that some one has to take a stand and be willing to fight not just for my own benefit but the benefit of others.
        In this world their are sheep, sheep dogs and wolves. I prefer to be a sheep dog…I’d rather go down fighting for the truth than depending on others to take up my need for protection.
        Any one who doubts that there are factions in this world who will do anything at whatever cost to bring down this great experiment in freedom is deluded and just a little sheepish.

  3. Banker August 13, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Very well said .. It indirectly turns out to be as Nazism. But Liam what about the spread of Islam in such countries where the birth rate varies between the son of the soils and the Muslim immigrants. Would you be okay if in future US becomes a Muslim dominated country ?
    I think that this factor should be considered when allowing the Citizenship for immigrants.

    • Liam Fox August 14, 2010 at 6:20 am

      So, you want the First Amendment AND the Fourteenth amendment scrapped because of fear and ignorance, and you want to call other people names? This thinking is not about protecting America. This thinking dismantles the constitution.

      America is not a religious society. No religion should have the ability to affect other Americans who do not belong to, or adhere to the tenets of, that religion. No religion should have any privileged status or have the ability to impose its doctrine on society. America is a pluralistic society, with a secular government, made up of individuals who are guaranteed the freedom to exercise their own religion. Only members of a religion who seek to violate the First Amendment in favor of their own religion worry about other religions doing the same.

      Lets try something novel. Instead of trying to scrap the constitution one piece at a time, lets try understanding it, and adhering to it.

  4. Daniel August 14, 2010 at 10:40 am

    the one here illegal should be sent home. no if and or butts about ir the kids born here should be sent home with parents. if the parents have no papers to be here. I am a native american. If you were to come across any other border illegaly you could get shot. I do not agree with the KKK grand dragon of Calif of the 80’s but maybe we should take his stand about shooting illegal crossers of the Border. any illgel that throws rocks and fire bombs at our agents should be shot at.

  5. Miguel August 15, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    You have to marvel the selective use of the language in the 14th amendment. It also breathtaking how the left, and their supporters in the media, completely ignore the overwhelming fact that illegal is illegal. Or to put this in terms that even the illiterate can understand, illegal is not a sick bird, it is against the law. There should no argument here. If they are here unlawfully/illegally, the only thing they are entitled to is deportation or a jail term if they have committed additional crimes after illegally entering the country. But don’t get lost in the minutia or the clever twisting of the terminology being practiced by the other side. Giving the anchor babies citizenship is how they are able to argue for “immigration reform”. If allow the left to dictate the vernacular of the argument, we will lose

  6. Vincent-Brian August 16, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Oh I would also like to mention that it was via the 14th amendment (that was instituted by Executive Order #6 that was never signed by the president, even though by law it had to pass through Congress) that “corporate personhood” came about. That has worked out very nice for us, huh?

    • JSW August 19, 2010 at 11:18 am

      Can’t find any documentation of Executive Order 6. Did you make it up? Corporate personhood is still being debated and shouldn’t negate the original purpose of the amendment: to protect the minority from majority abuse.

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