We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

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Samizdata quote of the day

In a democracy, the majority of the citizens is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority

– Edmund Burke

55 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    So a democracy is just like real life, but slower? Who knew?

  • Karl's Black Glove

    Not much like “real life” really. Much harder to be cruelly oppressive unless u have the state’s truncheons backing you up.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    My point is that, in real life, numbers tend to count more than principles. Mobs lynch people just because they can.

  • Runcie Balspune

    To extend a meme:

    Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.
    Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
    Reality is two well-armed wolves enforcing the vote.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Absent some cultural respect for individual natural rights, people tend to get run over. The exact nature of the vehicle doesn’t matter much.

  • Hmm

    Democracy ain’t all bad…

    If democracy maintains proper ethics, checks and balances it becomes a half decent method of government.

    However, Democracy where ethics, rules and laws are allowed to be bought and sold by bureaucracy ,thereby enabling privilege, it slowly becomes feudal and tyrannical.

    To improve democracy you have to change how people understand it… that is what socialism has done and continues to do. Socialism “frees” people in their minds by taking away the onerous tasks of “thinking” and “deciding” and replacing it with “feelgood” hallucinations of “rights” and “entitlements” (even while destroying real rights and entitlements).

    Liberty makes the mistake of trying to improve democracy by selling “freedom” – to people who are taught that freedom is “having someone else do it for you”. That disconnect completely nullifies the sales technique.

    Democracy works well if everyone works to maintain it and make it work.

    ..which is why it fails when socialism is involved because they expect it to work for them by someone else doing it.

    whereas – Socialism works because it says it does! you see – socialism is freedom and democracy – duh!

    Good government always depends on good ethics. You can have a perfectly good tyranny if it is based on good ethics.. and you can have a perfectly good democracy if the ethics are maintained by checks and balances.

    It’s not democracy that’s wrong – its the avoidance and removal of ethics.

  • Democracy ain’t all bad…

    I agree it ain’t all bad.

    Trouble is when it is seen as an end in and of itself rather than a means to an end, with that end being to secure liberty.

    More often than not, democracy is just the means by which people vote themselves other people’s money and punish people for being in an unpopular identifiable minority.

  • Hmm

    More often than not, democracy is just the means by which people vote themselves other people’s money and punish people for being in an unpopular identifiable minority.

    Yep, absolutely – which is why maintaining ethics should be the priority.

  • Indeed, and fighting the culture war is the only way to do that… but it is also important to have institutions that severely constrain the scope of democratic politics, the way (at least theoretically) the US constitution used to do, albeit very imperfectly.

  • Laird

    Indeed, “constraint” is the operative word. Unfettered democracy is “all bad”. What the US Constitution tried to do was (among other things) set up a system of representative democracy in which certain areas (“unalienable rights”) were strictly off-limits to the whim of the mob. It worked, to a certain extent and at least for a while. But we’ve forgotten that “democracy” (which the Founders rightly viewed as the worst form of government) has been elevated from a process to an ideal in itself. It’s a dangerous illusion, as we’re now seeing across the globe.

    I’m coming more and more to appreciate the wisdom of Jose Ortega y Gasset in his “Revolt of the Masses”. The inmates, lacking any competence to do so, now presume to run the asylum.

  • Hmm

    Starting with Clear and concise definitions of what government cannot and maynot do, with active applications automatically being triggered if these definitions are overstepped.

    The other biggy is control of government jobs/funding… placing term limits on ALL government jobs and linking government jobs to work in the private sector and private sector pay.

    Good Government is an integral part of private society – not a separate entity sitting above and beyond.

  • Runcie Balspune

    “It’s not democracy that’s wrong – its the avoidance and removal of ethics.”

    Democracy is carpetbagged by political parties, the original idea of voting for a representative has degenerated into simple “football fan” mindless mentality, we are told to vote for the team not the individual, combine this with team players who have no intention of sticking to their team policy, and the whole thing is a giant con job.

    The drive for PR, as shown in the recent London Assembly elections, has further brainwashed the voters into thinking democracy is about voting for political parties, it isn’t and it never was. Democracy, whatever way you do it, is people voting for people, not some insane socialist state-like entity like “the party”.

  • RRS

    We should consider the context in which Burke wrote.

    The “Classical” period compared to the Parliamentary Form for representation vs plebiscite is a particular thing, with differences in particular effects.

    Even in representative governments, the representation becomes representation of interests in the uses of the governemntal mechanisms, rather than representation of views of constituents (electors) on the principles to be applied to the resolution of issues.

    In our time Democracy is a process, not a condition.

  • Laird

    “If our fathers, in 1776, had acknowledged the principle that a majority had the right to rule the minority, we should never have become a nation; for they were in a small minority, as compared with those who claimed the right to rule over them. . . . To say that majorities, as such, have a right to rule minorities, is equivalent to saying that minorities have, and ought to have, no rights, except such as majorities please to allow them.” — Lysander Spooner.

  • @Laird:

    But we’ve forgotten that “democracy” (which the Founders rightly viewed as the worst form of government) has been elevated from a process to an ideal in itself.

    It should be remembered that the United States is a constitutional republic rather than a democracy (representative or otherwise).

  • Laird

    I know that, John. Which is why the Founders very carefully and expressly did not create a democracy. But most people either don’t know that or don’t understand the distinction.

  • Paul Marks

    Quite so Laird.

    To the Founders the Edmund Burke quotation would have been a statement of the obvious.

    Indeed even thousands of years before this was known.

    For example, Aristotle made a strong distinction between a polity where most free men had the vote and a “democracy”.

    That is because the word “democracy” even in the time of Plato and Aristotle was already known to be mob rule -and mob rule which did not even last long. As cunning men would promise the majority of voters the wealth of the rich minority and take power – only to build up a government machine (including a professional security force) that would later turn on those very voters (for the rich can only fund the government machine for a little while – they simply do not have enough wealth to fund it for very long).

    Pericles has been praised for thousands of years as the classic democractic politician – and so he was, he plundered the allies of Athens in order to buy votes at home (turning allies into subjects – and, thus, into enemies) and doomed Athens to defeat by Sparta.

    Those who praise Pericles show they know little of classical history (or show that they have bad intentions themselves).

    The Roman example is General (and elected Consul) Marius.

    He got the army to sware a oath of personal loyality to him (not to the Res – Publica, to the Roman Constitution). He may have been a democrat but he was no republican (put capital letters in there if you wish).

    “And you would have stood with Sulla and Pinochet – in a sea of human blood”.

    I do not approve of political killings (although Sulla just hit back against the killings committed by the supporters of Marius – and he made sure he hit back ten times harder).

    However, if we are talking of a “sea of blood” what of Julius Caesar? His victims may have numbered MILLIONS, and all to gain loot to win votes at home.

    The generation of school boys who learned “how Caesar conquered Gaul” might have better spent their time considering whether it was right (including right for ROME for the Repubic) for Caesar SHOULD have conquered Gaul.

    Such is “democracy” – it leads to the rise of “Populari” who plunder (plunder the rich at home, or populations of other lands) in order to have money to spend on “public works” and welfare (“bread and games” – such as the corn dole that Sulla is supposed to have been the last Roman politician to challenge). And then democracy collapses into tyranny.

    Plato was a collectivist and even he understood that the sort of collectivism “democracy” leads to does not work (although his own version of collectivism does not work either). Aristotle was no libertarian (see his attack on Lycrophon – one reason I may made “Lycrophon” my first name on the internet, back in a different geological period), but he understood that a system of the state giving the poor money was like “pouring liquid into a cup with no bottom in it”.

    So does this mean that a system where most people have the vote can not work? No – it can work.

    It can work if government is strictly limited – but all limitations depend on the people themselves.

    When people are still independent, self reliant citizens of the Res Publica then things can work – but when they become state worshippers, looking for a “great man” to “fight their battles for us” (First Book of Samuel), then things go badly.

    The virtue of the public is the basis for any Constitution – without it, no Constitution can stand.

    The United States Consitution did not fall when the Supreme Court decided (by five votes to four) to uphold Franklin Roosevelt’s tyrannical plundering of the citizens of the United States (by the gold confiscation and voiding of private contracts in 1933), the United States Constitution fell when the public (by 60% to 40%) decided to REELECT the pig Roosevelt.

    “A Republic – if you can keep it” was what Ben Franklin replied when asked what form of government the Founders had created for the United States.

    The people in 1936 proved they were not the sort on which a decent constitutional order can be based – they (or most of them) were already corrupted, even almost 70 years ago.

    Would it really be different today?

    Let us say a democratically elected President started to commit crimes (perhaps even worse crimes than those of Roosevelt) with the media saying “it must be done”, and against a background of terrible economic suffereing?

    Would most people really stand against such a government?

    Or would they say “it is just the rich getting what they deserve”?

  • RRS

    The major defects and deficiencies of Democracy as a process are due to the Demos.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    So Democracy is like fire, a good servant, but a lousy master.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Ouch, Paul!

    Although I’m sure you’re only speaking hypothetically….

  • Paul Marks

    2013 – a relected Comrade Barack, a terrible economic crises and a “mainstream” media facing bankruptcy (so driven by the need for government financial support as well as ideology).

    Everything set for the “fundemental transformation” of the United States to totalitarianism.

    For all his faults, that is not an aim of Governor Romney.

  • RRS

    This is (or has been) fundamentally a U K oriented blog (see, cricket), and I have no conjectures as to how the now more diverse and less homogenous (by traditions and cultures) U K polity will try to salvage Liberty, I do sense there will be some reversions in the U S.

    It is plausible to envisage a real change in the structure of government to something more “confederate” in nature, whereby certain designated segments (if not all) of federal legislation will require ratification by state legislatures, thus impeding the effectiveness of the representation of interests at the federal level (which was enhanced by the direct election of Senators).
    [See, Mancur Olson]

    Not in my brief remainder, of course, but altogether possible.

  • Laird

    RRS, if I’m reading your post correctly, you’re suggesting a fairly substantial change in the structure of our federal system (restoring it, at least partially, to something more closely approaching the federalist ideal). Obviously that would require a constitutional amendment. I have seen no discussion along those lines. Have you, or is this just conjecture?

    Also, are you referring to any particular Mancur Olson book?

  • RRS

    Laird –

    You are quite right. I have for many years told my children (to their utter boredom) that their grandchildren and possibly even mine would live in a very different system of government.

    I don’t conjecture whether the present constitutional vestiges will remain (e.i. amendments) or society will have become so altered (in commonalities) that a new format will appear. But, the changes may occur in stages and that will continue a trend of reaction to centralization.

    I did pick up some clues from the works of Mancur Olson, but not that specific conjecture – which is seen with the effects I mentioned in Switzerland, a much more cohesive society. The studies of S E Finer on the History of Governments record developments in Adminstrative States, of which we have become one, not the first, not the last.

  • RRS

    Laird –

    Going back to your comment at 3:03 yesterday, the original structure was to establish a representatative form of government (which is not quite the same objective as a representative democracy) in which the representation would be determined by democratic means (or in accord with certain levels of democratic principles).

    But, as you noted with your reference to Revolt of the Masses there has been an alteration in the principles for providing representative authority; and a displacement of the interests to be presented.

    The logical (or organic?) result would be the reduction in the province of representative authority. Delegation will probably become more indirect, at least for some period, at some time in the future.

  • Laird

    You are quite right, of course, RRS, but in that post I was emphasizing the word representative, not “democracy”, since this entire thread is about “democracy”.

    As to Revolt of the Masses, you are also quite correct. Whether that alteration eventually leads to a “reduction in the province of representative authority” is anyone’s guess. And much as I would wish it were otherwise, my guess it that it will not, at least not in the near term, but rather will have the opposite effect until the whole structure collapses and we get to reboot the system. Probably not in either of our lifetimes, though.

  • RRS


    I realize I made the shift in a prior comment from Burke’s classical “democracy'” (the ostracan society) reference to one of democracy as a “process.”

    Given the “alterations,” the process has become more inefficient, and may become ineffective for those former objectives. The likelihood of altering that proceess seems small. But the advantages of the objective may result in the establishment of one or more other processes.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Paul: Yes, that is what I fear. It’s already happening, with these “new and/or improved” (expanded) Executive Orders. The only question will be as to how long it will amuse Their Eminences to maintain the charade.

    And no, Romney is not in anything like the Obama/et al. category.

    But I sure hope he doesn’t pick ineligible Rubio for VP.

  • Alisa

    Julie: why not Rubio?

  • Laird

    Alisa, there is a legitimate question about whether Rubio is a “natural born citizen”. He was born in the US, and so is a citizen by birth, but at the time his parents were not citizens so it is unclear whether that constitutes “natural born”. There is a good argument that it does not. And this is not a debate the Republicans want to have, especially in this of all elections.

    Personally, I’d like to see Jim DeMint as the VP. He’s already announced that he’s not running again for the Senate, so he will have some time on his hands.

  • Alisa

    Thanks, Laird. Apparently I am not watching enough FOX…

  • RRS

    My description of Corporatism is still hanging up somewhere in the smitebox.

    However, let me say that it is the obverse of the Ron Paul description to the effect that it is the governemntal control of the uses of corpoarte mechanisms.

  • Laird

    Alisa, I think Hannity might have recently done a segment on this (which I didn’t see), but the idea is older than that. Here’s a good article on it.

  • Laird

    RRS, I haven’t attempted a definition of “corporatism”, and am awaiting the smitebot’s release of your full explanation of the term. But viewing just your summary, how does “governemntal control of the uses of corpoarte mechanisms” differ from fascism?

  • RRS

    OK! So how does RRS describe corporatism?

    As the term is applied in in economic and social affairs in the current status of the U S, a condition of corporatism exists to the extent that bodies of interests (of varying objectives in their formations; e.g., Unions, Business Enterprises, Academic Institutions, “Tree Huggers,” etc., etc.) gain access to, and are able to determine the deployment of, the mechanisms of governments (at the several levels) in efforts to achieve benefits for, or protection of, the interests of the members of those bodies.

    Currently, the term is more generally used to single out that form of relationship in the activities of Business Enterprises.

  • RRS

    Smited again, because I use permalink to copy into the comment box that which has been typed offline.

  • RRS

    Can I refer you over to comments under Monday’s QOD

  • RRS

    My Fascism reply is also in the smitebox

  • Laird

    RRS, I think that definition is too broad. By structuring the word around the root “corporate” it is clearly implied that it only refers to business enterprises capturing the power of government for their own ends. It doesn’t apply to non-business usurpations of governmental power (as with academic institutions, tree huggers, etc.). As I view it, “corporatism” is merely a subset of the general problem of special interest government capture.

    But (before your response has actually emerged from the smitebot) I think I’ve answered my own question about the relationship of corporatism to fascism: the former is business capture of government; the latter is government capture of business. In other words, your summary definition is incorrect, and actually has the power relationship turned around.

  • RRS

    Laird –

    You take the Ron Paul approach.

    Fascism (the non-economic part) rests upon the control of governmental mechanisms through force, rather than social or democratic processes. In the experience of Italian socialism installed through Fascism, economic (and a portion of the social policy) were managed through the “Corporate State” (rather than “State capitalism”) comprised of three corporate bodies: Unions (initially), Business Enterprises and the Church.

    It was not simply the government taking control of Business Enterprises (for Economic management), it also provided access to the uses of the mechanisms (and powers) of government to those enterprises (as well as to the other two bodies).

    The Italian format was largely constrained (but probably not shaped) by Rerum Novarum of 1891, which is still worth a read. It was still of impact when Mussolini and other socialists were students.

  • RRS

    In support of my description of corporatism, I will ask:

    Is the concern that the representation in our representative form is the representation of “corporate” interests (including in the execution of the laws)?

    Or is it the concern that the representation (and execution of laws) is for purposes of controlling Business Enterprises or other segments of society (which are organized into bodies)?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Laird– That’s an interesting article. I’ve never seen the argument that “natural born” does NOT require birth on U.S. soil. I’ve always understood that one must be native-born (born on U.S. soil) AND have parents who were citizens at the time of birth.

    Alisa–the reason it matters so much, and not just as a matter of principle, for the Republicans to avoid running a candidate who is not “natural born” is that we have to avoid setting a precedent that cuts against the Constitutional “natural born” stricture.

    In fact, we’ve already had one ineligible President: Chester A. Arthur, whose father was Canadian and not in fact naturalized until Chester was 14 (IIRC). There was some question at the time, but apparently the Arthurs lied about the facts, and the issue was passed off as a non-issue. A year or two ago, Leo Donofrio, an attorney here, was sent scans of some pages of a credible biography of Arthur showing the actual naturalization date. (I believe I haven’t made any terrible errors in this brief description of the Arthur business. You can read the pertinent material at


    Also, if you’re interested, there are further articles there that provide a lot of additional information–just type Chester in the Search box, for instance.)

    Anyway, the danger in letting Arthur get by so long ago is that now, people can use the fact that Arthur’s eligibility wasn’t tested at the time as precedent indicating that Obama’s non-citizen paternity is immaterial. If either Rubio or Jindal were even presented as a candidate, the message would be that EVEN THE REPUBLICANS–the party that claims to be so devoted to the Constitution–admit that “natural born” doesn’t require the parents to be citizens at the time of the birth. And beyond that, of course, if one of them were actually elected (even as VP) that really would set the precedent, because in this case there’s no question but that the parents’ non-citizenship is well-known.

    The standard hypothetical example goes like this: If Kim Jung-Il had impregnated (even through rape) a woman who then came to this country to deliver the baby, that baby would be eligible to be President when he grew up–unless it’s also a requirement that the parents be American citizens at the baby’s birth. Do we really want the son of the North Korean dictator as our President?

    Or, of course, there is the real-life case of young Mr. Obama…which is not all that different from the hypothetical example.

    Attorneys have been trying to get the Supreme Court to hear the case since at least 2010, but the cases have all been refused for one reason or another.

    As I and I think most of us understand it (as always, there’s some disagreement), we really need to have Obama declared to have never been President–and not merely impeached, even if the Senate then tried him, found him guilty, and threw him out (which wouldn’t happen anyway), because that’s the best, cleanest, quickest way to get rid of the insane laws he signed–especially the nightmare I call the Health Fraud Act, and also the NDAA as newly broadened. No chance of a misfire when trying to get Congress to pass wholesale repeals of all those laws. And the Executive Orders would also be last week’s fishwrap, automatically.

    Please forgive the length, and I hope I haven’t been too incoherent. :>)

  • Laird

    Julie, I don’t disagree with any of that except the part about declaring Obama “to have never been President”. It won’t happen. Even if the Supreme Court were somehow prevailed upon to take one of these cases (unlikely) and actually rule on the issue (which won’t happen; they’ll manage to delay matters so as to make the issue moot, at least in their eyes), and even if it were to rule that Obama is ineligible to serve as President, it wouldn’t invalidate any laws enacted under his watch. Worst case, they would say that due to the (unrealized) vacancy in the Oval Office, all of those bills would have become law by virtue of the failure of anyone to veto them. (“If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it. . . .” Art. I, Sec. 7, cl. 2.). And they wouldn’t throw any of their brethren off the federal bench, or invalidate any other presidential appointments, because they all had Senatorial confirmations. You might get them to invalidate any Executive Orders he signed (which certainly isn’t nothing), but that’s about it.

    The consequences of a “retroactive” disqualification of Obama would be so severe that no Court would ever so rule. The best we could hope to achieve is some sort of advisory ruling on the meaning of “natural born”, which would be prospective in nature.

    I’m afraid that we’re going to have to clean up the Obama mess the old-fashioned way, one law at a time.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Laird, thanks very much for the info. As a matter of hard reality, I’m quite sure you’re right that SCOTUS will continue to not-hear (any of the variants of) The Case. To quote a Wise Master from a galaxy far, far away: “How depressing. HOW depressing.” :>(

    Thanks for the correction on what would happen to bills signed by a fraudulent “president.”

    I hope I didn’t imply that there’s any sort of legally binding definition (i.e., SCOTUS opinion) as to the meaning of “natural born.” –Although latterly, Donofrio thinks he misread Minor vs. Happersettand that it does define the term. Unfortunately, I think he’s wishfully misinterpreting.

    Just trying to clarify the posish. :>)

  • Alisa

    Thanks, Julie. I certainly see where the ‘natural-born’ bit comes from, but, to play the devil’s advocate for a moment: does it really make much sense, especially in this day and age? Think about that NK hypothetical: would it really be so terrible if that kid, who in the example grew up in the US and is an American for all practical – and, possibly, even philosophical – intents and purposes, became President? Weren’t Wilson, FDR, Carter, and who knows who else, perfectly ‘natural born’?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Hi, Alisa,

    You’re absolutely right. If one could be sure that prospective future President hasn’t inherited any particular physical predilections to nastiness (and I only mention that for thoroughness) and also that the child grows up in America and sympatico with America, with our history and traditions and culture–in other words, grows up as an American, a part of the American social and political fabric, knowing history, and American history in particular, and identifying with America–truly wanting the best for America–then all would be well even if papa were Dear Leader, Maximum Leader, or the Great Horned Toad himself. As the present incumbent does not, although he did spend the latter part of his childhood in America.

    But that is the best-case scenario for anyone, and in particular for a child who is born a citizen of another country–which he would be, if one of his parents were a citizen of another country. The worst-case scenario, which the Framers were trying to avoid, is that the son of Dear Leader is returned to his father’s oversight, to grow up trained by his father, the Dear Leader, to hate and despise us and all our ways; so as to return to the U.S., put in the requisite 14 years (IIRC) here, achieve the Presidency, and turn us into a North Korean satellite.

    The Constitution couldn’t have been written so as to guarantee us that every President would be a faithful preserver of the Republic and defender of the Constitution; it’s not humanly possible. But it COULD have been written so as to minimize the chances, and many of us believe that it was so written, namely by requiring both sources of birth citizenship–on our turf, and with citizenship inherited from both parents.

    Of course, if the Obama-is-illegitimate-son-of Frank Marshall Davis/Malcolm X/some-other-American-lowlife theory is true, and if in fact he WAS born in American Hawaii–or Boondoggle Holler, Arkansas, for that matter–then he’s the perfect example of an evil there was no way to avoid. A perfectly un-American thoroughly-American. :>(

  • Julie near Chicago

    Alisa–Blasted ‘bot, SMITED!! Well…I wrote a longish (heck, it’s me after all) response…I hope it’s released from ‘bot purgatory eventually. In the meantime, the short form is, Anything CAN go wrong, and of course a kid 100% American by birthplace and inherited citizenship could be un-American as the devil (which could be the case for Obama, after all) and sell us out to the evillest cause imaginable. There’s no human way to prevent that. But the chances of a sell-out President are high if he’s the kid of an avowed America-hating dictator of some other country…so the Framers tried to exclude such people from the Presidency when they set down the requirements. That’s our theory, and I’m sticking with it! :>)

  • Alisa

    Indeed, Julie – like I said, I certainly see where the framers were coming from when they stipulated that condition for Presidency. My problem with it, I guess, is not that it is not fool-proof (obviously nothing is), but that it may be the case of throwing the baby out with the tub water. Forget the rather extreme example of that Korean kid – take someone like Rubio. Wouldn’t we rather have him as President (no matter how imperfect etc.) over someone like either of the Bushes, for most recent examples?

  • Laird

    The problem with our own Dear Leader, of course, is that he did not grow up as “a part of the American social and political fabric, knowing history, and American history in particular, and identifying with America”. Leaving aside that fact that a number of his formative years were spend in Indonesia, the rest of them were in Hawaii which, while indeed a part of the United States, is most assuredly not “a part of its social and political fabric.” It’s a vastly different place than anywhere in the continental US, and Obama clearly does not identify with the America most of us know.

  • Alisa

    Indeed. That’s why I think it is more important where a person grew up during his formative years, rather then where he was born.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Laird, I agree with you completely. Alisa, your point is well taken too, but the Framers were trying to get suspenders and belt, within a framework that would not require some sort of ideological test.

    But in answer to your particular question question above, to keep my answer to a reasonable length I would say that it is certainly NOT worth shredding the Constitution even more to elect Rubio over one of the Bushes–even if we had a signed guarantee from On High that he would turn out to be the superior President.

    Your point would be made better if you asked me to choose between Rubio and the Sith, under the assumption that indeed the Sith IS in fact natural born (as per my understanding). And actually, if Romney does pick him for VP, I will have to make the choice as if that were the case. There, I will have to say that Romney/Rubio would be the lesser of two evils by a hair. It’s a question of Name Your Poison. Obama is definitely the fast-acting kind. There is at least in theory a slight chance with an R/R ticket…although I have little or no faith that anything good would come of it. The best thing in that case would be an Amendment SPONSORED BY RUBIO that would precisely spell out “Natural Born,” and that part of the deal should be for him to resign as soon as it was passed.

    If you can design an Amendment that would close the gap you’re talking about, though, I’d be all for it. And as for being “Americanized,” Bill Ayers is as good an example as I can think of of someone you could only disqualify through some sort of ideological/philosophical test…and you’d need a LONG history of strictly pro-America talk AND ACTION to back it up…since the Islamics aren’t the only ones who practice taqqiyah.

    Laird–Somewhere along the way I got the idea that you’re an attorney. (Or possibly a law prof.) Did I make it up?

  • Alisa

    No no, I was by no means advocating any change in the Constitution to favor Rubio, or anyone specific, for that matter – was just making a general point, and Rubio was the first person that came into my head, just because we were discussing him to begin with. I am all in favor of changing/improving laws – including the Constitution – when they fail to stand the test of real-life cases, but I think that when a case hinges on specific individuals it better be done after the case, even at the risk of having a suitable individual lose an opportunity to serve the public well.

  • Midwesterner

    Better than any changes to the qualifications for the Presidency, I would prefer to see an amendment declaring the oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” to be a lawful oath to uphold the Constitution as written and ratified (including the amendments).

    Any officer of the US government who could not demonstrate to the Senate sitting as a jury, that a reasonable person could (not necessarily would, but reasonably could) interpret the original intent of the Constitution they way they did would be convicted of felony perjury of their oath of office. If convicted of perjuring one’s oath to uphold the Constitution (which is a legal oath given before the Chief Justice of the United States with all of The People who want to watch as witnesses), then the perjurer would be eligible for prosecution for treason against the Constitution. Treason, rather than being defined as against the United States, would be defined as against the Constitution.

    At present, the oath of office, even when administered on the steps of the Capital Building by the Chief Justice, is considered a meaningless formality.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Alisa–It sounds to me as if we’re talking about the same thing. I didn’t think you were talking about Rubio himself so much as raising a good question with Rubio and the Bushes as “f’r instances.” And I didn’t mean to be challenging at all–if you have any ideas for a better amendment, I really would be very glad to hear them. I think that would make a great topic for discussion.

    You wrote at the end, “I think that when a case hinges on specific individuals it better be done after the case, even at the risk of having a suitable individual lose an opportunity to serve the public well. and I could not possibly agree with you more. In fact the part I quoted in boldface was really my main point. Also, ad hoc laws are, as a rule, to be avoided I think. And certainly we oughtn’t to get into the habit of outlawing (or “in-lawing” :>)) specific individuals. Although it has been done from time to time, I think.

    Mid–That’s a VERY good point about the Oath. Do what you can to push it along and I’ll be delighted to help.

    But I think that at this point we do need an Amendment setting out exactly-precisely what qualifications are REQUIRED for Presidential eligibility. Even more so if we did end up with Rubio as Veep.

    Not via a “Con-con,” however!

  • Alisa

    I think I agree with both of you.