Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Donald Trump, the Birthers, and the 11th Commandment

President Barack H. Obama released his long form birth certificate earlier today, but the "Birther" issue is a long way from being settled. Forty-five percent of Republicans believe that Barack Obama is not an American citizen. In particular, Donald Trump has done everything he can to promote this lie as part of run for president. "Birtherism" is no longer really fringe in the Republican Party, it's a strongly held belief of nearly half of all Republicans.

This places the Republican Party in a quandary. Polls suggest that political independents reject the Birther's beliefs and conspiracy theories. If the Republican movement has a birther flavor to it in 2012, will this turn off independent voters?

But how can non-birther Republicans tamp down the birther movement? Republicans aren't allowed to criticize other Republicans. Long ago, Republicans decided that unity was more important than honesty and Ronald Reagan laid down his 11th Commandment saying: "Thou shalt not criticize other Republicans." Countless Republican politicians have pandered to the birther movement, winking at the obvious falsehood rather than bringing down the wrath of 45% of all Republicans on their head.

The birther movement might cost the Republican Party the 2012 elections, but any Republican candidate for the GOP nomination who attempts to tamp down the birthers will lose the nomination race. To win the Republican nomination, GOP candiates will have to wink at birtherism, which will then leave them wide open to charges of being fringy during the general election.

Birtherism isn't done by a long shot. The Birther side of the Republican Party will demand that the 2012 presidential nominee genuflect to their views. The question is, can a birther-approved candidate win in the general election?

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