Connect to share and comment

Do other countries have "birther" controversies?

Hey Donald Trump, here's where you could actually run for president.

At the height of his popularity as governor of California, Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger inspired calls for the constitution to be amended. Unsurprisingly, these faded in step with his approval rating.

Republican former presidential candidate John McCain’s birthplace in the Panama Canal Zone — albeit on a U.S. naval base — was raised as an issue in the run up to the 2008 election, but ultimately dropped amid much wrangling over the meaning of “natural-born citizen.”

In the 1968 presidential campaign, Republican hopeful George Romney (father of Mitt Romney) made headlines when it emerged he had been born to American parents in Mexico. Again the controversy evaporated, this time when Richard Nixon was chosen to run for office.

Back on the other side of the political tracks, former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm was once touted as a possible Democratic presidential candidate, but would have been ruled out because she was born in Canada.

Experts say the fact that this issue crops up time and again indicates that, in our modern, globalized world, Article Two is struggling to maintain the justification it may have had in 1787, despite Trump’s concern. However, they acknowledge change is unlikely.

“I think that if Americans were to reconsider today whether this should be in the constitution it would be controversial,” Rogers Smith, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, told GlobalPost.

“It would have support, but a lot of people would oppose it because it’s clearly not true that people born in the United States are necessarily going to be more committed to the principles of the American constitution and to the fate of the American republic than people who have chosen to come here and who have chosen to become citizens.”

There is, however, some good news for Trump. Recent political events in Scotland have raised the prospect of independence from London for the homeland of Trump’s mother. Under proposed rules, Trump would be both eligible for citizenship and, theoretically, leadership.

A hair-raising prospect.