Our problems remain epistemological.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Letter to the Editor at The New York Times, Responding to Atossa Araxia Abrahamian's "There Is No Good Reason You Should Have to Be a Citizen to Vote"

Seth Barrett Tillman, Lecturer

Maynooth University Department of Law

New House (#53)

Maynooth University

County Kildare

Ireland W23 F2H6


July 29, 2021


The New York Times

Letters Editor

letters@nytimes.com

 

RE: Atossa Araxia Abrahamian, There Is No Good Reason You Should Have to Be a Citizen to Vote, The New York Times (July 28, 2021).

 

Ms Abrahamian tells us that she “lived in New York since 2004, but [she] ha[s]n’t once had a chance to cast a ballot here.” That is not quite true is it? Legal residents can apply for U.S. citizenship after residing in the U.S. for as little as 5 years—after which the federal government will process your application. It is now 2021. So Ms Abrahamian has had roughly 12 years to apply for U.S. citizenship and then, having secured it, to vote in U.S. elections. If she has chosen not to apply for citizenship, or not to apply in a timely manner, then it makes no sense for her to claim that she has not had “a chance” to vote. She has had that chance: a substantial one.

 

Legal residents are just that. They get to reside in the United States. No one will ask them or make them share the common fate of other Americans. No one in a position of authority in the U.S. government will ask a legal resident to stay in the U.S., and no one in a position of authority will ask a legal resident to leave. Ms Abrahamian is such legal resident, and as such, she can always leave and return to her former Swiss home. Once in Switzerland, the United States government will have no claim to tax her future income, and it cannot prosecute her for crimes she may commit abroad, and it cannot dragoon her to return to the United States to serve in its armed forces. It is altogether different for U.S. citizens, like me, living abroad. As a U.S. citizen, the U.S. government can tax my income earned abroad, prosecute me for crimes committed abroad, and draft me into its armed forces. And, that is why an American citizen, like me, although living abroad, gets to vote in U.S. elections, and that is why Ms Abrahamian does not, notwithstanding her being legally resident in the United States. 

If you want the right to vote, you should have to commit to sharing our polity’s common fate. And if you choose not to take on American citizenship and to share that fate, then you ought not complain that you are excluded from the democratic process that will in large part determine that common fate.

Seth Barrett Tillman, Lecturer

Maynooth University Department of Law


Seth Barrett Tillman, Submitted as a Letter to the Editor at The New York Times, Responding to Atossa Araxia Abrahamians There Is No Good Reason You Should Have to Be a Citizen to Vote, New Reform Club (July 29, 2021, 3:29 PM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2021/07/letter-to-editor-responding-to-atossa.html>; 


5 comments:

Jeff said...

Not to mention the obvious: some Nations so jealously guard the right of Citizenship as to forbid a citizen from maintaining dual or multiple citizenship. Why should any non-citizen have any right to participate in or interfere in the decision making, cultural or political affairs of a foreign country?

Anonymous said...

Terrific. As a retired US military member, I've seen my share of US citizens abroad getting screwed, first, by the Host Country, and then later by the US Government. Ms Abrahamian needs to get on board or go home.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Per Wikipedia, Ms. Abrahamian is a citizen of Iran, Canada, and Switzerland. I do not know these other states' positions on voting by people with multiple citizenships, but were she able to vote in all of these places, she'd be far ahead of mono-citizens like me, whether the US granted her a fourth arena to vote in or not.

Tom Van Dyke said...

So well said, sir. A nation is greater than the sum of the people who happen to be within its borders at any given time. Otherwise it's just a real estate deal, an HOA if you will.

"As a U.S. citizen, the U.S. government can tax my income earned abroad, prosecute me for crimes committed abroad, and draft me into its armed forces. And, that is why an American citizen, like me, although living abroad, gets to vote in U.S. elections, and that is why Ms Abrahamian does not, notwithstanding her being legally resident in the United States."

Tim Kowal said...

And as a noncitizen Ms. Abrahamian is not expected to stand for the national anthem, which NYT readers seem to find so gauche these days.