Public Policy Polling pretty much sums up the insanity that has infected today’s Republican Party.
Only 38% of Republican primary voters say they’re willing to support a candidate for President next year who firmly rejects the birther theory and those folks want Mitt Romney to be their nominee for President next year. With the other 62% of Republicans- 23% of whom say they are only willing to vote for a birther and 39% of whom are not sure– Donald Trump is cleaning up. And as a result Trump’s ridden the controversy about Barack Obama’s place of birth to the highest level of support we’ve found for anyone in our national GOP polling so far in 2011.
What would be the equivalent on “the left” (in quotes because, in this country, we have a centrist party and a far-right part, but no significant “left” or progressive party) of this finding? It’s hard to even think of one, but perhaps if only 38% of Democratic primary voters were willing to vote for a Democratic candidate who firmly rejected 9/11 conspiracy theories? Crazy, I know, and of course that’s not the case. Yet on the Republican side, there are actually 23% of voters who will ONLY vote for a “birther” and 39% who aren’t sure if they’d only vote for a “birther.” (see FactCheck.org for a complete debunking of that “theory”)
By the way, it’s not just “birtherism” that’s infected the Republican Party these days. It’s also denial of climate science (despite massive, overwhelming, undeniable evidence over decades and thousands of studies), belief that all our budget problems are because of “out-of-control spending” (correct answer: our budget deficit is overwhelmingly the result of the Bush tax cuts, two unpaid-for wars, the recession, and rising health care costs fueled by an unhealthy and aging population), near-theological belief that the answer to every problem is to cut taxes for rich people and corporations, and even dabbling with “nullification” (Ken Cuccinelli and many other Republicans), paranoia about “Sharia Law” taking over America (I know, WTF?!?!?), and even secessionist tendencies (Rick Perry) The question is, what’s happened to cause the Republican Party electorate to go so completely haywire in recent years? A combination of 9/11, economic malaise, and the election of a mixed-race president? Is something else going on here? What do you think?