Re Jason Eastman letter, "Be skeptical of fearmongers," Sept. 13:
Eastman seems upset with the political strength and visibility of the tea parties. The tea parties are open to anyone and are not racist as he implies when he says, "to harvest racial resentment, tea party politicians like Lindsey Graham call to rescind the 14th Amendment, which guarantees birthright citizenship." Sen. Graham wants legislation to make small changes in the 14th Amendment to get it back to its original meaning, which was to give freed slaves full citizenship rights and not to give immigrants' children citizenship who happen to be born here. Anyone who is familiar with the history of the 14th Amendment knows that this amendment had nothing to do with immigration. In 1868 when the 14th Amendment was ratified, the U.S. did not limit immigration into the U.S. so there could be no illegal immigration, so children born to immigrants could not have violated a U.S. law that did not exist.
According to Sen Jacob Howard of the 39th Congress: "Every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons. It settles the great question of citizenship and removes all doubt as to what persons are or are not citizens of the United States." The 14th Amendment was meant to guarantee recently freed slaves citizenship and all the rights enjoyed by white citizens. Black Codes were being used to re-enslave recently freed slaves in the South. State governments could no longer deny freed slaves born in the U.S. citizenship with the ratification of the 14th Amendment.
Eastman complains "some tea partiers even oppose democracy itself by calling for the repeal of the 17th Amendment that gives us the right to elect our senators." The framers were also against "democracy," in favor of a republican form of government. The framers believed that senators represented state sovereignty and interests and were to be chosen by the state legislators. Representatives in Congress were to represent the interest of the people. Senators represent the states and Representatives (House) represented the people, a distribution of power with its "checks and balances." With the ratification of the 17th Amendment states lost their representation at the federal level and their power was given to the people, leaving the states without political power in Washington. The tea partiers seem to be more in agreement with what the framers believed.
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The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.