The Grand Old Party has gone evermore around the bend, thanks to Republican politicians’ willingness to play to the basest, most retrograde instincts of the ignorant among Republican voters; a shockingly large percentage. A You.gov poll is showing that 72% of Republicans either believe it is false (37%) that President Obama was born in this country, or are unsure (35%).
Michael F. Cotter wrote in the Harvard Crimson yesterday:
The Birther movement, entirely bereft of a factual basis, was the offspring of the latent racial animus that still exists in this country. By last spring, it became widespread enough that denying the President’s natural-born citizenship became de rigueur for all aspiring conservative presidential candidates. I admire the optimism of those who genuinely believe that the tradition of the “Southern Strategy” has been entirely erased in the last forty years, but I do not share it. It is not a mere coincidence that our first black president is also the first one whose American nationality has been called into question. It is not a coincidence that our first black president is the only one whose religious identity is the subject of persistent doubt.
In the 2008 campaign, John McCain had the maturity to publicly dismiss claims that Obama was a secret Muslim. Unfortunately, I expect no such thing from Romney. He has shown himself incapable of connecting meaningfully with voters. His road to the Republican nomination has been one of sad resignation for the Republican base rather than excitement. Furthermore, his entire narrative will fall apart if unemployment continues to fall. His best chance at capturing the Oval Office rests in rousing deep, unfounded fears about the President’s identity. I do not think that Mitt Romney is racist, nor do I think he doubts the President’s place of birth. Yet Romney apparently wants the presidency badly enough to sing any tune, play to any fear, and stand on stage with any would-be demagogue for a few votes. I, for one, maintain no illusions about the pitch of his dog whistle.
The full sample of Americans polled is better, though still annoying: 59% believe it is true; 17% believe it is false; and 24% not sure.
Adam Berinsky at YouGov writes:
These results might be troubling, but they are not surprising. They are consistent with my previous work on the lasting power of rumors in the face of new information. As I, and others, have shown, rumors and innuendo are powerful forces in American politics – and they are hard to undo.
I don’t know what more the man can do. For those of you still unsure, do your country a favor and please read here.