“Birthers” refers to people who believe that President Obama is not eligible to be president because he is not really a citizen. Although there are variations, most of them believe he was born in Kenya, not Hawaii and, so they think, he is therefor not a citizen.
Never mind that it has been conclusively proven that he was born in Hawaii. And never mind that even if he was born outside the US like McCain was, he would still be a citizen. The Birthers are adamant that he is not in fact a citizen and can’t be president. Many seem to believe that McCain would somehow become president and Palin vice president if they could prove their case.
I, like many, believe these people are motivated by racism — they just can’t handle having a brown skinned president and have a psychological need to believe his election was illegitimate and he really isn’t president.
A conservative Republican running for Biden’s Delaware senatorial seat, Mike Castle, got booed by some local birthers because he asserted President Obama is in fact a citizen:
The ever rational Lou Dobbs, despite getting told what’s what by guest host Kitty Pilgrim, still plays up the story.
Even the extreme rightwing Republicans at redstate.com are worried about the bad press the birthers are giving all rightwingers. At least that is true of the bigwigs over there; the commenters seem to run about half and half in their acceptance of the merits of the birthers’ allegations concerning whether President Obama is a citizen or not.
And that is the key point about all this lunacy. The birthers are mostly if not completely racist and unbalanced conspiracy theorist tin foil hat wearers. But they, like global warming deniers and people who believe in ‘intelligent design’ and that the earth is only 6000 years old, are also a crucial part of the Republican base.
That base is somewhere between 20-25% of the population, maybe a little less, maybe a little more. A good chunk of that percentage is made up of the birthers and people like them.
The Republicans cannot afford to abandon them.
That is why Mike Castle followed the crackpot’s orders in the video and recited the pledge as she demanded, as did all the other Republicans in the room and on the dais.
The Republicans are beholden to the birthers.
But the Republicans also recognize that their base, even with the birther contingent, is not enough to win elections in most of the country. The Republicans know that the birthers and similar fanatics, like those who insist Obama is a secret muslim, scare off the moderates and independents that the Republicans need to win again.
The Republicans are caught between a rock and a hard place. They cannot afford to deny the lunatics that make up such a key component of their base but, at the same time, the Republicans cannot be seen by moderates and independents to embrace the conspiracy theories held so dearly by the lunatics in their base.
The Republicans will have to extricate themselves from this self imposed predicament or else they may in fact face a dissolution of their coalition.
I previously did not think it really possible that this would happen. I still don’t think it’s likely, but, increasingly, I see it as at least a possibility.
The non lunatic Republicans kick out the loonies, and maybe even ‘rebrand’ themselves as the New Republicans. The loonies then create their own party, maybe calling it the True Conservative Party. And both never get anyone elected above the post of dog catcher for several generations.
It’s not a likelihood.
But it is an appealing prospect.