By Gabriella Levine
Last Wednesday, Barack Obama produced his long-form birth certificate, finally putting an end to what he referred to as utter “silliness” on the behalf of the “birthers.”
Over the past few months, the birthers brought a dispute back into the mainstream over Obama’s legitimacy, questioning whether he is a natural born citizen of the United States.
In 2008, the Republicans threw several desperate stratagems into the presidential race, including an obsession with Obama’s birth certificate, in an effort to gain leverage over Obama’s increasing popularity.
Like other Republican ploys, i.e. McCain’s attempt to gain support by choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, the birthers’ debate eventually fizzled and lost momentum. Sarah Palin, the supposed Republican frontrunner for the 2012 election, found her rightful spot amongst reality TV heavy hitters such as Kate Gosselin on the TLC network; the doubts of the birthers were reduced to a similar insignificance.
With the 2012 election looming in the near future, the birthers predictably emerged and failed once again in their attempt to discredit Obama. In past months, some sensible politicians recognized the birthers’ efforts as a “bridge too far,” as Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, stated.
But most of the birthers, recently led by the media-hungry Donald Trump, continued to deny the obvious and insisted that Obama was jeopardizing his entire presidency with an absurd fraud.
Trump gained momentum in the polls for spotlighting the birthers’ issue; however, his allegation that Obama was hiding something by not producing a birth certificate is just as deluded as his rumored claim of a potential candidacy for the Republican Party. Seth Meyers of Saturday Night Live summed up Trump’s rumored run perfectly—“Trump has been saying that he will run for president as a Republican, which is surprising, since I just assumed he was running as a joke.”
All things aside, we cannot forget that the birthers’ true intentions were far from setting a precedent to ensure the eligibility of future candidates, as they so innocently claimed. They were merely playing the race card that Obama has tried to avoid throughout his entire career.
Their debate was centered on the fact that Obama is the first African American president who happens to have a Muslim middle name. We must only look to Tea Party activist Marilyn Davensport’s controversial email containing a picture of the Obama family featured as apes, with a phrase that read, “Now we know why no birth certificate,” to understand the true underpinnings of this controversy.
It is both deplorable and ridiculous that our country has been reduced to the discriminatory claims of conspiracy theorists. On a political scale, it is an embarrassment that this scandal took precedence over monumental choices concerning our nation’s budget, healthcare systemand delicate economy. On a social scale, it is also an embarrassment that Americans were so easily swayed by what Obama deemed as “sideshows and carnival barkers.”
The delusions of the birthers corrupted the media and steered our country away from what truly matters. As Obama pointed out in his national address, we will not be able to co-exist in a bipartisan manner if we continue to frame deliberate lies as the truth. It’s time to get back on track and avoid the inaccuracy of future publicity stunts.