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Dear Arizona, If Obama's Not American, Then Neither Are You

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In a recent email exchange, Ken Bennett, Arizona's sitting Republican Secretary of State, dredged up a particularly malodorous scoop of political muck by stating that "if Hawaii can't or won't provide verification of the president's birth certificate, I will not put his name on the ballot." 

The idea that any US President would be required to flash his ID in order to legitimize his presidency represents a monumental presumption on the part of Obama's detractors--no matter what their political aspirations happen to be.* Please understand, I'm not suggesting that we should treat US presidents like sacred cows. Far from it. Presidents are simply regular folks who have found some way to percolate to the top of the national political hierarchy. As such, being as fallible as anyone else, presidents must be held accountable. This means that presidents should be praised for their successes and castigated for their mistakes. Nothing helps to ensure a higher standard of leadership than exacting public scrutiny. The more, the better.

That said, the campaign to paint Obama as an undocumented alien deviates dramatically from the rational road of constructive political criticism. Birthers' shrill protestations are not intended to help Barack Obama become a more effective president, rather, their goal is to invalidate our forty-fourth president's mandate: Barack the Pretender, an "other" who lacks the birthright to legitimately occupy the lofty office that he has earned.

Clearly, this claptrap is born of the same spirit that perpetuated Jim Crow well into the twentieth century. In the past, US presidents have never been asked to produce proof of citizenship because, quite simply, they were all a bunch of white guys. And, since white guys have been running the world for a long time, it just seems natural for white guys to continue doing so.

Then, along comes Barack Obama, a president who doesn't quite fit the Mount Rushmore image. Heaven forfend!! Yet, by any measure, Barack Obama is a brilliant political strategist who, in spite of his humble origins, managed to rise meteorically to the very apex of the US political establishment. Certainly, there have been similar rags-to-riches success stories among US presidents and, like Abraham Lincoln, path-breaking political leaders of this stripe tend to be graced with exceptional talent. For example, does anyone recall that George W. Bush dumped the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression on his successor? Though it required a herculean effort, President Obama managed to prevent the worst extremes of that particular crisis: a decade of 20-30% unemployment with Hoovervilles, hunger and every other form of economic hardship stalking the land. Instead, the Obama Administration succeeded in getting the country back on its feet again--admittedly, the one-percenters have reaped the lion's share of the benefits from the recovery thus far--before the midterm elections. Truly, an historic feat of economic wizardry.

Of course, no good deed goes unpunished. Since Obama's detractors can't attack him on his record, they have had to search for other, more scurrilous means with which to besmirch his character. Thus, stooping about as low as a snake in the grass can go, birthers have raked up the deplorable muck of American racism. None too subtly, birthers have asserted that because Obama doesn't fit the demographic profile of a typical American president, Obama can't really be the president.

Well, I must admit that birthers and I do agree on one particular point: Obama is not a typical US president. He's a heck of a lot smarter than most.**


Obama may not be typical, but I'm happy to say that his is the new face of America, the Land of Opportunity. Birthers may not like it, but Obama's ascendancy is an illustration of the fact that democracy is not dead. Though democracy will ever and always remain a work in progress, on Obama's watch the US has narrowed the gap between our democratic principles and practices. Would that we could say as much about all US Presidents.

*Bennett is reported to be in the process of establishing the essential ultraright-wing creds to displace the right-wing occupant of the Arizona Governor's office. 

**The other post-millennial president leaps to mind here

 

http://goodscience.sociology.org/

Tim McGettigan is a professor of sociology at CSUPueblo. Tim's primary research interests are in the areas of science, technology, society (STS) and the future and Tim blogs about those topics at the following sites: The Socjournal, (more...)
 

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The campaign to paint Obama as an undocumented ali... by Timothy McGettigan on Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 12:20:16 PM
Seriously. Do they have to be less than 80 or some... by Rob Kall on Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 12:21:34 PM
If Dubya and Palin are any indication, ignorance i... by Timothy McGettigan on Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 9:07:35 PM
Obama was elected by the desperation of people suc... by Robert James on Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 9:36:48 PM
All of the points that you have raised are debatab... by Timothy McGettigan on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 11:35:33 AM
The treacherous corporate shill could have been bo... by Robert James on Monday, May 21, 2012 at 12:12:16 PM
And which of Obama's predecessors put the plight o... by Timothy McGettigan on Monday, May 21, 2012 at 5:19:36 PM
 Is largely a straw-man issue to take the deb... by Davey Jones on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 3:32:38 PM
This "birther" argument is ludicrous. The DOJ will... by Tim Sanders on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 1:51:55 AM
Thanks for your pithy and entertaining comments... by Timothy McGettigan on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 5:36:25 PM
"Instead, the Obama Administration succeeded in ge... by Ernie Messerschmidt on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 10:15:30 AM
What proof do you have that you are a US citizen?... by Timothy McGettigan on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 11:38:31 AM
To answer Tim Mc., Two Natural Born American Paren... by Xman2 on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 12:49:09 PM
If you are born in the United States of America, y... by J. Edward Tremlett on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 1:30:10 PM
:)... by Timothy McGettigan on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 5:34:37 PM
Obama has sealed all of his records and finally re... by Xman2 on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 12:17:35 PM
How much of this Birther BS can we take? If these ... by steve hubbs on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 12:22:53 PM
All of Obama's records are sealed . . . . by the U... by Xman2 on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 6:05:19 PM
I find it strange that people like yourself persis... by Timothy McGettigan on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 6:26:47 PM
- Community organizer- Did drugs and booze in Coll... by Xman2 on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 8:16:56 PM
Dear "Xman2,"Methinks your depredations emanate fr... by Timothy McGettigan on Monday, May 21, 2012 at 8:36:10 AM
When you can't debate with facts, you turn to pers... by Xman2 on Monday, May 21, 2012 at 6:37:37 PM
Dear SuperDude:I take it humor is not your forte.&... by Timothy McGettigan on Monday, May 21, 2012 at 8:07:35 PM
The World Puppeteers' arrogance that has removed t... by madranger on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 1:12:48 PM
Thanks for illustrating the irrational racism that... by Timothy McGettigan on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 5:50:59 PM
It's been nearly 53 years since the US had a major... by Eric Arthur Blair on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 4:39:06 PM
Well said.... by Timothy McGettigan on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 5:53:04 PM
Whoa Tim!  I think you've got it backwards he... by Arianna Marie Cigolini on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 8:41:59 PM
Good Post AMC.  Birthers are American Citizen... by Xman2 on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 9:10:17 PM
I'd ask you who you are, but you don't have the te... by J. Edward Tremlett on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 9:22:25 PM
Dear Wolverine, Why does Obama's citizenship ... by Timothy McGettigan on Monday, May 21, 2012 at 8:53:19 AM
But Wolverine IS actually pretty proud of being a ... by J. Edward Tremlett on Monday, May 21, 2012 at 9:16:03 PM
"Obama has admitted being born in Kenya"Lie" and r... by J. Edward Tremlett on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 9:20:58 PM
Arianna: Can you prove that you are a US citi... by Timothy McGettigan on Monday, May 21, 2012 at 8:47:20 AM
Scroll to the bottom of this linkclick hereto find... by Vernon Huffman on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 9:12:15 PM
click hereNever mind that Hawaii has confirmed pub... by Timothy McGettigan on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 8:46:33 AM