Let’s Knock It Off With the Ted Cruz Birther Stuff

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/jbouie/23035700811/in/photolist-B6zZin-dRij4c-nG7paW-rJL2we-qBFXhM-xK1RSt-rD8QCw-qJCWSH-zW1NFD-zV64AF-zW1Nga-xJVFj3-y2x7jz-x5DkWa-B6zQy8-fyjqEN-B3ifG5-pSnsXt-A8H2SV-zTXkcE-zCtktL-xZdfkL-xZdmDs-y2x3Tr-x5vig7-xJVvtG-x5vnw1-y1DUqo-y3cVV6-x5DNdt-y3cQai-y2x18M-xZdouG-xJUc5w-xJVaaY-xK1VyM-xZdCUy-xK2dq2-y2wK5a-x5v6cN-xK1Z2i-xJUkd5-x5DgRM-y1E3iC-x5vCJA-rf8jWM-A8yUYS-fye9Qg-fye9Uv-fye9Xk">Jamelle Bouie</a>/Flickr

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Over the last few days, Republican front-runner Donald Trump has suggested that Sen. Ted Cruz should ask a court for a written declaration that the Canadian-born Texan is eligible to be president. That’s to be expected—Trump rose to prominence among conservatives by questioning the eligibility of the sitting president. On Wednesday, Sen. John McCain, one of the Republican Party’s elder statesmen, told a talk radio host that he wasn’t sure if Cruz was eligible to be president. That’s less expected but still easily explained—McCain hates Cruz with the fire of a thousand suns.

And now House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has joined the fray. “I do think there’s a difference between John McCain being born into a family serving our country in Panama than someone being born in another country, but again this is a constitutional issue that will be decided or not,” she told reporters on Thursday.


This is absurd. Cruz is eligible to be president because his mother was an American citizen. And as National Review explains, it’s not even an especially unusual situation:

[T]here is nothing new in this principle that presidential eligibility is derived from parental citizenship. John McCain, the GOP’s 2008 candidate, was born in the Panama Canal Zone at a time when there were questions about its sovereign status. Barry Goldwater, the Republican nominee in 1964, was born in Arizona before it became a state, and George Romney, who unsuccessfully sought the same party’s nomination in 1968, was born in Mexico. In each instance, the candidate was a natural born citizen by virtue of parentage, so his eligibility was not open to credible dispute.

It shouldn’t be a hard question for Pelosi or McCain to answer unambiguously—we’ve spent roughly eight years rehashing the constitutional requirements for the office over and over again (in part because of Trump and the kinds of people who support him). The fact that McCain and Pelosi both—for perfectly legitimate reasons—can’t stand Cruz is just not an appropriate justification for Trumpian nativism.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend