There is no doubt that Michele Bachmann made a big mistake and now realizes it. She now claims "it is a non-story" and that, "I have always pledged allegiance to our one nation under God, the United States of America. We live in the greatest nation humankind has ever known and I am proud to be an American."
I believe her. Others aren't so sure.
Not willing to let a mistake go by unused, the Huffington Post has already run a column calling on her to resign and raising national security concerns because she is a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Financial Services Committee. And she is now "a citizen of a country not even allied with the U.S."
Somewhat hysterically the piece asks, "So, whose side will Rep. Bachmann be on in future clashes between American and Swiss banking regulators?" It concludes, "I see only one way Michele Bachmann can resolve all these glaring conflicts of interests — resign, or at least not seek re-election. If she fails to do that, the House leadership should immediately strip her of all committee assignments and initiate the expulsion proceedings. The American people have a right to be represented by legislators with undivided loyalties."
As someone who has very consistently not supported the position of allowing American citizens to hold dual citizenship, vote in foreign elections, serve in the armed forces of other countries, or serve in any official position in the service of another country as some in the United States have done, I do not, in this case, share the concerns expressed by the Hufffington Post.
Ms. Bachmann was born and raised in the United States, married her husband in 1978 when she was 22 years old, has been married to him for 34 years, and has served in Congress since 2007. Her primary attachment to Switzerland has been her marriage and her vacations.
No, I am not worried that she will take Switzerland's side in economic issues. But she now faces some practical questions. Ms. Bachmann, as a dual citizen is now eligible to vote in Swiss nation elections. Will she? More to the point, does she think she should? Having a member of Congress vote in a foreign election would break new ground, as does her decision as a member of Congress and presidential candidate to acquire dual citizenship.
What really worries me, though, is that her decision, from someone in her high-level political role, is a thoughtless, and certainly unnecessary, signal that dual citizenship is not only desirable, but also acceptable. After all, if it's good enough for your husband and your children and yourself and you are a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, why isn't it all right for all new immigrants to aspire to retain their national and cultural heritage and be dual citizens?
I find it hard to believe that Ms. Bachmann gave much thought to what she did. If she had, she would have immediately realized that she had handed a potent rhetorical weapon to the enemies of immigrant assimilation to the American national community.
Nothing personal, but U.S. House of Representative member Michele Bachmann should seriously consider renouncing one of her citizenships.
(NB: Ms. Bachmann has apparently taken this advice.)
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