When Citizenship Looses Meaning

     With California poised to legalize non-citizen juries, New York city is considering one-upping them by allowing non-citizens to vote in city elections.

     Though defining eligibility to vote is considered a prerogative of New York state, some disagree with that, including the “New York County Bar Association, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.”

     There is some precedent for allowing non-citizens to vote in New York city:

“Until the City abolished local school boards, all New York City parents, even undocumented immigrants, could vote in school board elections. That made sense. Their children felt the most impact of Board action. They had a right to say who should serve on the school board.”

     However, the argument now being put forth goes beyond that:

“Now, permanent residents, who pay the same taxes as U.S. citizens, seek the same public safety and serve and die for our country, want a say in electing those who run our city. “

     This would effectively eliminate any meaning behind citizenship, since everything from free food to free education is available to anyone, including illegal aliens.  Some may say this is about “democracy,” but “democracy” is more than shoving people from a certain locality into a voting booth.  But even then the exact definition does not matter, since we are a republic.  Our republic consists of citizens who form a body politic for their common and public affairs.  Simple physical presence should not be allowed to dilute or skew the decisions of citizenry.  Being a citizen means something.  It involved common bonds and a shared community that goes beyond merely being present in whatever electoral jurisdiction that is holding elections.  As had been noted previously:

“With the destruction of the privilege of voting and jury membership, what purpose does citizenship even have any more.  With those pillars of citizenship gone, what reason would there be to think that holding office would also be extended beyond the requirement of citizenship?  What meaning is there to citizenship then?”

     Regardless of whether the proponents are just impatient while channeling Berthold Brecht, or they really believe that simply being around at election time, this effective euthanasia of citizenship ought not be allowed to stand.

     Citizenship does mean something, and it ought to be protected and cherished.

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