Category Archive '“Starship Troopers”'

12 Aug 2010

Forget Trying to Eliminate Jus Solis*

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We should simply adopt Rand Simberg (and Robert Heinlein)’s suggested policy of earned citizenship, with respect to voting.

* The right of citizenship by birth on a country’s soil.

Well, the government class is up in arms over Senator Grahamnesty’s suggestion that we amend the 14th Amendment to end the practice of so-called “anchor babies” and automatic birthright citizenship for non-citizens. But perhaps the problem with the senator’s suggestion is that it doesn’t go far enough. One of Don Rumsfeld’s pearls of wisdom was that when a problem seemed unsolvable, the solution could be to enlarge it. Perhaps it’s time to rethink not just birthright citizenship, but citizenship in general, and what it means. …

In the science fiction novel Starship Troopers, the late great Robert Heinlein put forth a different notion of citizenship — not one of a birthright, but an earned status. In this view, more republican (and in better keeping with the intent of the Founders), he made a useful distinction between being a citizen and being a civilian. He made citizenship a separate issue from whether or not one is entitled to live and work in the country, or even receive its benefits (even including welfare). Perhaps to be a citizen should be defined as being able to partake in the running of the country, and those unwilling to do the things necessary to become one will have to accept the decisions of those who have done so, or find another nation in which to reside, one perhaps more congenial to their lack of civic responsibility. That is, citizens would be eligible to vote and run for or be appointed to public office — civilians would not.

In Heinlein’s formulation, two years of government service — sometimes, but not invariably, military service — was a requirement of citizenship. Some have mistakenly declared his notion fascist, but that is nonsense, as fascism is much more than militarism (assuming that one even accepts that Heinlein’s society was militaristic — I don’t necessarily).

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.


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