Yes, like a toxic waste plant that spews out poison every four years, it’s Presidential primary time for the Republican party.
And its two most radical and ruthless candidates for President are flinging slime with gusto.
Rafael “Ted” Cruz, the United States Senator from Texas, has accused his rival, billionaire businessman Donald Trump, of having “New York values.”
And during the January 14th Republican Presidential debate in South Carolina, he defined these as:
“Everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage and focus on money and the media.”
Among Right-wingers, “liberal,” “pro-abortion” and “pro-gay” are the ultimate in insults.
But Donald Trump was quick to respond with an explosive charge of his own: Rafael Cruz is not an American citizen–and therefore not eligible to be President.
What made this accusation so effective was Cruz’ having been born outside the United States–in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, to an American mother and a Cuban father.
Rafael “Ted” Cruz
The U.S. Constitution specifically states that “No person except a natural born citizen…shall be eligible to the office of President.”
Cruz has argued that because his mother was an American, he became an American citizen at birth. But courts have never ruled on the issue of what constitutes a “natural-born” citizen.
And, at a campaign event in Nashua, New Hampshire, Trump smacked Cruz with an even more incendiary attack:
“Ted Cruz may not be a US citizen, right? But he’s an anchor baby. No, Ted Cruz is an anchor baby in Canada. But Canada doesn’t accept anchor babies.”
“Anchor baby” is a Politically Incorrect term for usually poor, non-white aliens entering the United States to have a child born on American soil, which grants automatic citizenship.
And if the child is a citizen, its parents stand an excellent chance of being allowed to stay.
Trump asserts that children born in the United States to illegal aliens are not American citizens, as they are today considered under the law.
At first, the issue of Cruz’ eligibility seemed confined to Republican politicians and those likely to vote for them. But then others outside the Right began weighing in.
Mary McManamon, a Constitutional law professor at Widener University’s Delaware Law School, concluded in an Op-Ed for The Washington Post:
“Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) is not a natural-born citizen and therefore is not eligible to be president or vice president of the United States.”
How did this all start? With the ultimate target of Republican hatred–Barack Obama.
Ever since Obama became a Presidential candidate in 2008, Republicans have accused him of being ineligible to hold office.
Without a political scandal (such as Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky) to fasten on, the Republican party opted for slander: Obama was born in Kenya–not Honolulu–and thus was not an American citizen.
From this there could be only one conclusion: He would be an illegitimate President, and should be removed from office if elected.
And this smear campaign continued after he won the 2008 election. Right-wingers like Trump insisted that Obama “prove” his citizenship fitness to hold office.
During his first two years in office, Obama tried to ignore the charge.
But polls repeatedly showed that large segments of the country believed it. Finally, even Obama’s closest advisers warned him: You must address this and put it to rest.
So, on April 27, 2011, the President released the long-form version of his Hawaii birth certificate.
The long-form version of President Obama’s birth certificate
For the vast majority of Americans, this settled the issue. In 2012, to the fury of Republicans, Obama won a second, four-year term.
Fast forward to the 2016 Presidential race.
Donald Trump, seeking to destroy his foremost rival, lobs the “anchor baby” charge against Rafael Cruz.
To most Americans, this conjures up the image of poor Mexicans flooding across the United States border to apply for welfare.
It’s a highly effective way to inflame the elderly, white voters who make up the base of the Republican party.
But it’s also guaranteed to inflame millions of Hispanic Americans–those who are here legally as well as those who are here illegally.
The Republican party has long earned the hatred and distrust of most Hispanic Americans through its calls to “seal off the border” and deport Hispanic illegal aliens.
And, in 2012, millions of Hispanics gave President Obama a second term.
So long as Cruz stays in the race, Trump will continue to use the “birther” issue against him. And it will continue to dog him, as it did Obama.
But it will continue to anger most of the 55 millions Hispanics living within the United States.
The votes of elderly whites command the attention of Republican primary candidates. But Hispanic voters will play a decisive role in the general election.
Thus, Republicans may come to regret their use of the “birther” issue as they learn the truth of Shakespeare’s line: “The evil that men do lives after them.”