There's a great scene from the vastly underrated comedy film, "Canadian Bacon," in which the White House (headed by Alan Alda playing the fictional president), warns Americans about the grave danger from our Neighbors to the North. The president, facing an economic downturn caused by the peacetime decline in defense contracting, needs to find a new enemy as a basis for building more weapons. He approaches the Russians, who decline ("don't be such a sore winner!" they say). So he targets Canada, drawing "a line in the snow" (which looks suspiciously made of maple syrup).
"Canadians walk among us, undetected," a fake TV ad says, listing the names of such potential threats as Lorne Greene and singer Anne Murray. And let's not forget about Martin Short, William Shatner, Michael J. Fox and Celine Dion.
Now we have to add to the warning list GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Who knew?
The Dallas Morning News did, noting in a story that while Cruz is indeed a U.S. citizen, having been born to American parents, he is also a Canadian citizen, having been born in Alberta. No big deal; right? We get along with Canada. It's actually one of the few countries left that seems to have relatively few axes to grind with us. They like coming over the border to shop, avoiding their prohibitively high VAT. And Americans like partaking of their stellar beer. What could be wrong with having an elected official who has dual citizenship with Canada?
Cruz finds something wrong with it, it seems. "Nothing against" Canada, he says, but he's renouncing his Canadian citizenship. There's no clear reason for this, unless Cruz decides to run for president. And even then, there's no clear reason for it, since he is a U.S. citizen and therefore eligible to run.
The only reason to give up the dual citizenship is to appease the so-called "birthers," whom one is tempted to call clinically insane, except that would be insensitive to people who have actual mental illnesses. The birthers, of course, continue to believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that President Obama is not really a U.S. citizen. They think his Hawaii birth certificate is a fake, and that he was really born in Kenya, birthplace of his father. That in itself is idiotic, since his mother being born in Kansas and would make her son a U.S. citizen. But logic has no place with this group; there's nothing logical about hatred. It's all about resenting the "other," the person of a different skin hue who just doesn't look like the sort of person the birthers want as president.
Worse, Cruz's declaration merely empowers Donald Trump, who serially flirts with a fantastical presidential run and whose greatest feats are his bad comb-over and his utter lack of humility in putting his own name on everything that doesn't move. Cruz is a firebrand and an instigator, and may not be what the bitterly divided Senate needs right now. But he's very smart, and he should know better than to stoop to the level of Donald Trump.
The world, and the country, is becoming more international and interconnected. If Obama's status as a biracial man was a statement of who we are as a people, then having a candidate who holds dual citizenship might be a positive sign of our inter-relationship around the world. Cruz has a lot of barriers as a presidential candidate. Dual citizenship with Canada would have been a plus.