Naming your children is a process that sometimes takes months to decide. Names are passed on for generations, or they are chosen for their particular meaning and once in a while are used due to popularity. For Terrance Lee Brauner, his Christian name, Terry-Lee holds enough power and meaning that he feels unrecognized when his “legal” name appears.
That relationship with his name goes onto deeper meaning when he brings up his citizenship. He explained that being a citizen of the United States is something he is not. He was born and raised in Washington State and after a short stint in the service came back to work. He labored in construction and eventually began in development. His background isn’t very unusual, in the fact that he lived his life like most of us do. He found success. Eventually he found trouble with the Internal Revenue Service and started to dabble in the court system.
In 1994, he decided to attend a meeting in Bellingham, Wash. The meeting consisted of ideas and philosophies that many of us might find unconventional. After battling in courts and finding the system unjust and unsatisfactory, he decided to look more into this ideology. While many might be confused by the complexities he has researched, a very important point Terry-Lee brings up is how much power a state should carry over federal powers.
In most basic constitutional law classes you study state versus federal powers. You understand how the original Constitution was formed and how each state carries their own constitution, many of them fashioned similar to the national one. Something that your average citizen might not understand is that originally the Bill of Rights was a fight for our first politicians. Many didn’t want to include those rights, believing that somehow they might constrict rights in the future or constrict the rights of the states.
Ideally, each state was set up as their own individual enterprise. Flash forward to the American Civil War and you’ll understand that the Southern states believed that they had the right to chose how their commerce and trade worked, as well as how business should continue. They believed so passionately that they had that right that many marched to their death. The North had a different perspective, of course.
You could say that how we follow the law today has changed with the outcome of that war. Something Terry-Lee believes with a passion.
Another change to the Constitution that is debated today happened during Franklin Roosevelt’s time. The new era brought radical change that was fought, once again, by politicians during the time. Federal powers grew rapidly as Social Security, Medicare and other programs were created to help fight the poverty and suffering that came with the Great Depression.
All this history means something to Terry-Lee, and while many might not agree with his unconventional way of thinking, we all should be paying attention to where the power goes to. Denying U.S. citizenship may be Terry-Lee’s way to make a stand on where he believes those powers belong. He carries a notebook for identification with the declaration of his Christian name notarized, and a photo attached, and the assertion that he is a citizen of his state, not his country.
Today much of the country has watched as executive powers have trumped over the legislative process. It is something that every citizen, state and federal, should be paying attention to. When we lose our voices, our right to an opinion and our powers to decide, we are slowly losing those rights that so many men and women have died for.