[This is Larry, back again to talk about Ted Cruz and his quixotic run for the U.S. Presidency. Last time we pointed out that he simply isn’t eligible for the office. Article II of the Constitution[1] limits the Presidency to “natural born” citizens of the U.S.; when Article II was written people understood “natural born” to mean born in this country, not outside of it; Ted Cruz was born in Canada, not here; so, Q.E.D[2]., he can’t be President. Perhaps he can run for the office, but he can’t hold it if he wins.

And how do I know what the Founders actually thought when they wrote Article II? Well, because they used a term of art – “natural born” – that had a definite and specific meaning when they used it. If you look at contemporary legal writings, for example at William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England,[3] you’ll see that he divided people of a country into those born inside or outside of it. “Natural-born subjects are such as are born within the dominions of the crown of England, that is, within the ligeance, or, as it is generally called, the ligeance of the king; and aliens, such as are born out of it.[4]

“Well hang on a minute,” you might say, “I understand the part about being born in the “dominions of the crown,” – that means one is natural born if one is born in the Crown’s territory – but what does it mean to be born in a king’s “ligeance.” Besides, we don’t have any kings in this country. Do we?

If you’re confused, so was I, and I spent a lot of time trying to chase down the true meaning of that word; “ligeance” is an old term, and not in our Constitution, by the way. And it means, wait for it, “the territory subject to a king;”[5] if you’re born in the king’s ligeance, it means you’re born physically in his territory; and again, that’s why you are “natural born”[6] and aliens are not.

So, taken in the context of its times, Article II Section 1 of our Constitution pretty clearly means what it also says on its face, i.e., that you must be “natural born” – born in this country – to be its President. So why is Ted Cruz, born in Canada, running for the office? Does he simply calculate that, if he wins, no court would dare to block him from taking the oath? Or is there something deeper at work? Some trend or movement we’re all missing?

Well, I’m not sure what he’s thinking right now, so I’ll not comment on his legal motives or objectives. And I’m not a sociologist, or a pundit of any kind, so I can’t answer the general question about new trends and where we might be going as a society.  But Phil, our resident philosopher, is much more adventurous than I, so I’ll punt the questions over to him. Phil, what in the world is going on with the Cruz campaign?]

Thanks for the vote of confidence. I don’t have anything really complicated to say about current events except that, every time I look at the news, an old refrain keeps ringing in my poor head, banging around in there, waking me up when I’m asleep, ruining my dinner and so forth. What I keep hearing, over and over, are the words, “The Camel, the Lion and the Little Child.” That’s enough to bother anybody who reads.

[You’re having day and nightmares about Friedrich Nietzsche?[7]]

Yes, and more specifically about Thus Spake Zarathustra,[8] his “most personal work” according to his sister,[9]  who inherited his papers and later wrote an introduction to the book. I read it – in translation, of course; my German is lousy – back in college, and have been trying to forget it ever since. It’s an allegorical tale, replete with homilies and parables about the human condition, and full of advice on how to make us strong. Some folks think it’s superficial and foolish, others that it’s profound and life-altering. I split the difference between the two. So far as political philosophy is concerned, Nietzsche’s views were a bit simplistic but, I think, also were responsible for a great deal of mischief in the 20th Century.

Nietzsche says that basically there are three stages of human development, and only the last is really beneficial. “Three metamorphoses of the spirit do I designate to you: how the spirit becometh a camel, the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child.”[10] The camel is the custodian of society’s current values, conventions and ideas. He carries them around like a beast of burden, and brags about his ability to tolerate nonsense. Nietzsche was particularly down on Christianity, and saw the camel as its chief advocate. “He assumes that Christianity, as a product of the resentment of the botched and the weak, has put in ban all that is beautiful, strong, proud, and powerful, in fact all the qualities resulting from strength, and that, in consequence, all forces which tend to promote or elevate life have been seriously undermined.” That last quote also is from the  sister. [11]

The lion is the antidote for the camel. He’s not creative. His job is to destroy the old order, and make it possible for those who come later to build a new one. “To create itself freedom, and give a holy Nay even unto duty: for that, my brethren, there is need of the lion. To assume the right to new values—that is the most formidable assumption for a load-bearing and reverent spirit.”[12]

[What a load of pretentious claptrap! And why in the world did Nietzsche choose to write in that pseudo-biblical style?]

Perhaps it sounds better in German. I wouldn’t know. Anyway, after the lion comes the child. “Why hath the preying lion still to become a child? Innocence is the child, and forgetfulness, a new beginning, a game, a self-rolling wheel, a first movement, a holy Yea.”[13] In short, having forgotten or discarded the past, the child is free to create the future.

[You know, I’m beginning to vaguely remember some of this. It sounds a bit like a drug-induced hippie philosophy of the 1960’s, but earlier than that. Is there another name for the child?]

Yes, in German the child is also called the Übermensch. That translates roughly as “overman”, “superman”, or “super-human.[14]

[Oh, great! So if someone follows Nietzsche, perhaps he – or she – expects at some point to turn into a super-person, who then writes the rules of the New Order for the rest of us. It seems to me that the Germans experimented with something like that back in the 1930’s, and it didn’t turn out well. I don’t think we should repeat their mistake. But perhaps I’m over-reacting.]

Perhaps. If you recall, originally we were talking about the forthcoming election. Let’s go back to that. Ted Cruz, and many of his ilk, are a bit hypocritical in their approach to the U.S. Constitution. Cruz has said, for example,

The Constitution matters.  All of the Constitution. It’s not pick and choose. It’s not take what part you like and get rid of the parts you don’t like. … Every word of the Constitution matters.[15]

But apparently that’s not true with respect to Article II, Section 1. If the Constitution requires Presidents to be “natural born,” well, that’s inconvenient for Cruz, so let’s just erase those words and do something different.

I guess we can say that Conservatives are not total camels when it comes to dragging around our Constitution. They’re willing to change it when they want to. That approach seems to be, well, childlike, wouldn’t you say? And now that we know that about them, we need to ask the next questions as well: What other Constitutional doctrines will they destroy when they get the chance, and what new rules will they write? If there’s a central list somewhere, I’ll bet it’s a long one.

[1] For an authoritative version the U.S. Constitution, and its Amendments, check out the National Archives. For the Constitution, go to: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html . That’s the version we’ll be citing here. See U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section I: “No Person except a natural born Citizen … shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

[2] That’s the abbreviation for the Latin phrase, “quod erat demonstrandum.”

[3] For a general history of Blackstone’s Commentaries, see the Wikipedia entry at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commentaries_on_the_Laws_of_England. If you want to look at the volume we cite, go to The Federalist Papers Project, Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England – Volume One, available at http://www.thefederalistpapers.org/political-philosophers/william-blackstone/commentaries-on-the-laws-of-england-volume-one . This is the 3rd Edition, printed in Oxford in 1768. Hereafter it will be cited as Blackstone Vol. 1 at __. There are other sources as well, most notably at the Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Law Library, at http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/blackstone_bk1ch10.asp Yale has a slightly earlier edition.

[4] See Blackstone Vol. 1 at Ch. 10, The Rights of Persons, p. 366. Please note that I am translating these quotes from the old English spelling. If you think I’ve made mistakes, you’re probably correct. I made one last time, when I substituted “allegiance” for “ligeance” in the quoted paragraph.

[5] See The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, Complete Text Reproduced Micrographically (Oxford University Press, 1971) at Vol. 2, ligeance, p. 268 – 269: “1. The obligation of a liege man to his liege lord; the duty of fidelity of a subject to his sovereign or government … 2. The sway or jurisdiction of a sovereign over his subjects or lieges; the territories subject to a sovereign.”  Now only in legal use, for example: “All persons born out of the ligeance of the Crown of England.”

[6] See also Dictionary.com, ligeance, available at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ligeance .

[7] For background on Nietzsche, check  out the Wikipedia entry at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Nietzsche

[8] The book is still in print, and no doubt you can find it on Amazon. I’m using a Modern Library edition that I bought many, many years ago. If you want a free online copy of an English translation, try Project Gutenberg, Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1998/1998-h/1998-h.htm#link2H_4_0006 ; See also For the purposes of this blog, and for your convenience, we’re going to cite to the Project Gutenberg version of the book. Individual pages are not numbered in this version, so we’ll cite to the page numbers generated by Adobe in the upper margin. Citations will be in the form of Gutenberg Zarathustra at __. See also Nietzsche, Full Text of “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” available at http://www.archive.org/stream/thusspokezarathu00nietuoft/thusspokezarathu00nietuoft_djvu.txt

[9] See Gutenberg Zarathustra at Introduction by Mrs. Forster-Nietzsche, p. 7. “’Zarathustra’ is my brother’s most personal work; it is the history of his most individual experiences, of his friendships, ideals, raptures, bitterest disappointments and sorrows. Above it all, however, there soars, transfiguring it, the image of his greatest hopes and remotest aims.”

[10] See Gutenberg Zarathustra at p. 20.

[11] See Gutenberg Zarathustra at Introduction by Mrs. Forster-Nietzsche, p. 8.

[12] See Gutenberg Zarathustra at p. 20 – 21.

[13] See Gutenberg Zarathustra at p. 21.

[14] Thanks to Wikipedia for pointing this out. See note 7.

[15] See New Republic, Scheiber, Meet the Most Important Ted Cruz Birther: Ted Cruz (May 6, 2013), available at https://newrepublic.com/article/113135/ted-cruz-2016-hes-his-own-worst-birther