Now that the president has released his “long form birth certificate,” many have hoped that this would put the so-called “birther” controversy behind us. Sadly, I don’t believe that will happen.
Why? The “birther” construct, that the President of the US is not native-born, has never been about Barack Obama’s country of birth. It’s been about finding a way to de-legitimize the Commander in Chief.
After all, 25% of Republicans believe that Obama may be the Antichrist. No birth certificate’s going to clear that up, long form or otherwise!
We know from survey after survey that Republicans are more instinctually authoritarian than the public as a whole. Republicans tend to be more supportive of torture, tend to believe that daddy knows best, that sort of thing. They’re also patriotic folks who, in their minds, should always respect the Commander-in-Chief.
So what happens when there’s a Commander in Chief they disagree with? Cognitive dissonance occurs: How to support him and at the same time oppose him? It’s treason to go against the president! Well, the easiest way to resolve this is to find a reason that he can’t legitimately be the president. Then opposing him is no longer treason, it’s patriotism!
The same thing happened to Bill Clinton back in the 1990s. Remember how Republican conspiracists convinced themselves that Clinton had murdered Vince Foster? Same idea: de-legitimize the man first, and it makes it easier to hate him.
This has all happened before, folks, and it will all happen again.