Perhaps we can generalize about lying in American politics. Not so much a cherry-picking of existing facts to lend credibility to a particular belief system, but a full-blown invention of events in the absence of evidence. Welcome to the Republican Party and the continuing saga over our President’s origin of birth. The “birther” phenomenon is at the center of what has gone wrong with the GOP meme.

For the rabid-right, change is not a linear function of reasonable decisions. Cultural norms evolve with shifting political climate, and bearable change might require a generation before acceptance; since for conservatives, civilization fundamentally is an embrace with the past. Good judgment demands rigorous correlation with historical precedence. Novel ideas find little purchase among those with a persistent past. Yet innuendo discovers fertile ground for insinuation and accusation of nonconformists. Wingers embrace gossip as a normalizing force. Fact-checking is a lesser influence.

Certainly, not all conservatives hold to such nonsense, yet these so-called “birthers” can hardly be relegated to the fringe when notable celebrities of the party and their media promoters insist on manufacturing controversy where none exists. If rabble-rousing remains the last resort for leaders of the GOP; has catering to the crazy core of the party distilled the energy of the conservative movement into wing-nut conspiracy theorem? Clinging to fabricated assumptions in light of contrary evidence can be attributed to several convictions within the modern conservative organization. Liberalism by definition embraces change, while conservative philosophy holds to custom. Call it the threat of the unknown or fear of what is different or new, but Barack Obama is certainly change some folks can not believe in.

Party leaders, in order to channel xenophobia, offer the panic-prone core of the GOP — concrete, non-philosophical instruction. This accounts for character attacks as substitute for issue analysis expressed by right-wing commentators. The base is informed of a threat to their cultural well-being. They express mob rage at unorthodox behavior. Complex issues are presented in easily-digested, one-dimensional caricature of a simpler time. Pressed, wingers reference life when they were children and others (parents) made hard decisions for them. Change comes hard for those unwilling to do more than a surface inspection of events. Decision-making is ceded to party elite in almost blind obedience. Celebrity commentators preach to the compliant, appealing to base prejudice. Until evidence becomes the foundation of judgment, hate-talk will continue unchallenged by party leaders willing to allow these pompous media analyzers of current events to shape public opinion.

Race and ethnic assimilation play important and contentious roles in the GOP platform, ever since Reagan captured southern voters in flux since the repudiation of racist themes by the Democratic party. When Lyndon Johnson enacted his “Great Society” and the modern welfare state, he predicted that the south would be lost to Democrats for a generation. Anyone who claims otherwise need only examine the demographics of the Republican party. Beyond the cultural diversity which extreme wealth promotes, the median GOP voter is white and of European lineage. Neither characteristic fits the description of our current President, increasing the cultural anxiety of those most perturbed by skin color.

Finally, faith cements conspiracy more effectively than logical thought. When evidence dashes belief to bits, it is irrational creed which not only remains, but is strengthened in proportion to the external assault. Ever since political conservatives, beginning with Reagan, sought support from social conservatives in the Christianist evangelical movement — critical thinking has eroded as an exercise among grassroots conservative voters. While the pulpit sermonizes, so does the common Republican voter accept preaching from the elites of the party, without question — no matter how nonsensical the claim — as long as the statement echoes established social order. Trust in the customary runs stronger than any testimony to the contrary.

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