Remember when the Obama administration commanded the military to impose martial law on Texas (aka the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theory)?
Oh, wait. That never happened.
Remember when the "death panels" created by Obamacare killed your grandma (aka the Sarah Palin Death Panels conspiracy theory)?
Oh, wait. There never were any "death panels." And grandma wasn't killed by Obama.
Remember when Barack Obama appointed only African Americans to his cabinet, including Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson (see the related Obama is the Secret Son of Malcolm X conspiracy theory)?
Um, on second thought, never mind.
If you have ever believed any of these conspiracy theories, you probably are what I would call an "Obama Hater." Obama Haters are the Americans with the most intense hatred of Barack Obama. In my book America Is Not Post-Racial, I identify and analyze the 25 million Obama Haters in America. Obama Haters love Obama conspiracy theories.
In Ezra Klein's article, "How Politics Makes Us Stupid," he reviewed research showing that on controversial political issues "people weren't reasoning to get the right answer; they were reasoning to get the answer that they wanted to be right," even if it meant twisting logic and facts into contortions. As a result, "the smarter the person is, the dumber politics can make them." Obama Haters are a perfect example of this phenomenon.
Liberals like to think of the Obama-hating public as primarily made up of uninformed people who want to keep "government hands off my Medicare." Since Medicare is a government program, this is a nonsensical demand. But the fact of the matter is that Obama Haters are more likely than moderates and liberals to know that Medicare is a government program.
Obama Haters are also more likely to know who the secretary of the Treasury is. They are more likely to know the length of a term in the Senate, and the relative size of the federal budget deficit, and the outcome of elections for the U.S. House of Representatives. In a nutshell, Obama Haters are more knowledgeable than average about political affairs, and this is the reason their belief in Obama conspiracy theories is so surprising.
It is not the case that Obama Haters simply are drawn to all conspiracy theories. They reject conspiracy theories about the George W. Bush administration. They reject the idea that the Bush administration had advance knowledge about 9/11. They reject the idea that during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans the government deliberately flooded poor areas to save middle-class areas. It is only when the conspiracy theory is about Obama that they take the bait.
The Obama Haters are another example of how politics make us stupid. Although Obama Haters are the type of smart, knowledgeable people who should reject conspiracy theories, when the conspiracy theories are about Obama, they seem to work hard to find ways to believe them. They hate Obama, so they look for reasons, however implausible, to justify their hatred.
The reasons for the Obama Haters' hatred of Obama are racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia. They hate who Obama is or, regarding the xenophobia and Islamophobia, who they think he is, and then they look for policy justifications to oppose him. When you take smart people and you mix in racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia, you get stupidity.
Algernon Austin is the author of America Is Not Post-Racial: Xenophobia, Islamophobia, Racism, and the 44th President which is the only book to analyze the 25 million Obama Haters in America.