The other day, I wrote an article here about how outlandish it was that the Republican Party has always said how they don't believe in government and have now gone out to prove that, telling pollsters that 52 percent of their support for President of the United States goes to three candidates who have absolutely zero experience in politics.
I also said that, despite this, neither Dr. Ben Carson nor Carly Fiorina are getting the Republican nomination, and that Donald Trump has a long uphill road to translate his huge poll numbers five months before the first primary into actual votes. I've long said that I don't think that Donald Trump is getting the GOP nomination for president -- though today's Republican Party has shown itself so crazy enough (for instance, not "believing" in science or willing to let the United States default on its legal obligation to pay its debts which could cause international financial crisis, or wanting to build 1,800-mile walls, or...well, fill in the blanks with your own favorite crazy) to accept that crazy can't be predicted, so the possibility exists.
The mere possibility of Donald Trump getting the GOP nomination for president has been the worst nightmare for Republican Party leaders, who have spared no effort to make clear how disastrous it would be for the party. Not just losing the race for the White House, but dragging down all Republican races across the country. And risking destroying the Republican brand for years to come.
A new poll was released on Monday from the respected Public Policy Polling group, and the results were eye-opening and put the answers in a new light, to the extent that if Donald Trump did get the nomination, I now think I would understand it.
The thing is, it's not the results of the candidates' popularity that I found so meaningful, but rather other questions that the pollster asked The responses showed me what I believe has brought about the early success in the polls of Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. And the poll made clear to me why the GOP's worst nightmare of Donald Trump winning their party's nomination exists a simple reason.
The Republican Party has itself to blame. They are the cause of it all.
Let me explain.
One of the poll questions was to ask Republicans if you believe Barack Obama was a Christian, Muslim, or "I don't know." Only 14% said Christian (which of course is the right answer), 54% said Muslim, and 32% didn't know. That means a massive, stunning, bizarre 86% of Republicans don't know that the President of the United States, who has been in office almost seven years, was actually a Christian.
Another poll question asked Republicans if President Obama was born in the United States. Keeping in mind that his actual Hawaiian birth certificate has been actually shown to the public -- only 29% said yes. But 44% said no, and 26%...well, they just weren't sure. What this means is that after nearly seven years in office and having displayed his Hawaiian birth certificate, 70% of Republican don't know if the President of United States has been legally the president for two terms in office.
A third poll asked if Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was born in the United States. Forty percent felt on solid ground with that one and said yes. The correct answer though is, no, he was born in Canada. An additional 39% weren't ever sure. Only one-fifth of Republicans knew that.
What all this said to me very clearly was that for the past seven years -- actually, probably the past 15 years or more -- Republican Party leadership has gone out of its way through fiery speeches, emphatic TV appearances, relentless television ads, and the force-feeding of Fox News disinformation, Glenn Beck teary-eyed End-of-Times rallies, and Rush Limbaugh-Michael Savage-Ann Coulter "all liberals are servants of Satan" talk radio vilifications, and more to demonize Republican opponents so unrelentingly, so egregiously, so thoroughly that accepting it all unquestioningly and being literally ignorant was seen to be a good thing, a badge of honor.
Yes, I know that the phrase, "literally ignorant," is a harsh and hot-button one. The thing is, those poll answers above are not matters of opinion, belief or choice. They're not open to interpretation: they're facts -- and very public, on-the-record facts. To not know facts means that you are, literally, ignorant of them. And to not know the facts about such grounded, basic things speaks volumes about how literally ignorant far too much of the GOP is today about far too many things. And anyone who argues with this that I'm being elitist in saying "literally ignorant" and saying that, no, it's not determined yet where the president and Ted Cruz were born, nor what Mr. Obama's religion is, they are just proving the point. It is known. Those are facts, and not knowing the answers is -- wrong. And not knowing so many of the answers to such basic questions is, in fact, to repeat, being literally ignorant of the answers.
This isn't a whimsical, biased guess I'm making. In 2012, Farleigh Dickinson University did an extensive poll, and they found that people who watched NO news at all were able to answer more questions correctly about domestic and international matters than those who watched Fox News. In other words, as the study explained, watching Fox News made you know less.
And by the way, just to be clear, I don't want any of these people to be ignorant. I want all Republicans, even the base, to be as informed and curious and empowered as they can possibly be. That's as opposite from elitism as can be. That's egalitarianism. If Republicans were actually fully informed -- not faux-informed from Fox misinformation -- it would be better for the country, because an informed electorate pushes its country to be its best. It would also be better for Democrats, because the more that Republican knew about reality and science, I think the less they'd be voting against their own self-interest on behalf of what's instead best for the Koch Brothers, multi-national corporations, Big Oil, Big Pharma, and Wall Street.
But this is all more than just not knowing the right answers. Or not "believing" in science, or demeaning women, or courting a racial hatred so strong that building a wall is demanded to keep out those with brown skin, or not believing in evolution, or believing that a government death panel to kill old people might actually be real, or believing that the President of the United States is a Socialist or a Nazi or a terrorist, or believing that the government is training secret troops in old abandoned Walmarts to take over Texas, or more. It's that for these past 15 years, the Republican Party has gone out of its way to court these demonstrably, knowingly incorrect beliefs and make them the base foundation of their party, and to court the people pursued by the Tea Party corporations by doing all they can to whip up fear and play to their racism and hatred, all to bring them into the fold of the Grand Old Party. And on and on and on, for years and years. Promoting people's ignorance of the facts and reality until you get to the point where 70% of Republicans don't know if the President of the United States was born in the United States -- which by law he must be. Where 86% of all Republicans don't know if the Christian president is Christian. Where 79% of Republican don't know that a major Republican candidate for president wasn't, in fact, born in the United States. And you know that these are just three simple questions out of many, many, many that could be asked, where the overwhelming majority of Republicans showed themselves to be...literally ignorant of the facts.
And that's when I realized why it made sense that Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina were supported by 52% of the Republican Party right now to be president. More than half the Party. Because the Republican Party has created this as their base. It's not so much that they necessarily "want" Donald Trump right now -- it's that far too much of this base probably doesn't have a clue who Senator Rand Paul is. Or who Senator Lindsey Graham is. Or who Governor John Kasich is. Or who Governor Chris Christie is. Or who Gov. Rick Perry is. Or who Governor Bobby Jindal is.
Probably. I don't know is this is actually the case. Maybe they just hate all these party leaders despite having voted them into office. Maybe they just hate Barack Obama so much they'll twist themselves into believing anything about him - though that doesn't explain 79% of Republicans not knowing where Ted Cruz was born. I don't know. I'm just making an observation. But it is an observation based on the realty that 70% of Republicans don't know if the President of the United States, who has made his birth certificate public, was born in the United States. And based on other results of profound ignorance of facts. So, given that so many Republicans are showing such a vast lack of knowledge about so many basic things, it is a reasonable step to take, I believe, that among the basic things Republican don't know is who on earth are the public figures running to lead their party.
They know Donald Trump, though. He's the guy on TV. They know who Dr. Ben Carson is -- he's the black one. They know who Carly Fiorina is -- she's the lady.
To be clear, it's not just about not knowing who's who. That's a large part of it, especially this early in the race. But it's not all. And, of course, many Republicans do know who the candidates are. Maybe most know. Probably so, I hope. But when so much of your party's base doesn't know, that's often all it takes for the few other candidates to leap out. The ones with absolutely zero experience or qualifications.
More to the point, though, is why they leap out. Why three people with absolutely zero experience in politics are the GOP voters' early poll choice to be president. Why a carnival barker like Donald Trump, pandering to the lowest common denominator, is circling the field.
Why? Because that's the Republican Party that the GOP has created.
And so you end up with Donald Trump as your party's choice to lead it. Followed by Dr. Ben Carson. And coming up nearby, Carly Fiorina.
Several quaint slogans leap to mind: You get what you pay for. You've made your bed, now lay in it. If you play with fire, you get burned. Time to pay the piper.
Right now, between Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, 52% of Republicans say they prefer someone to be President of the United States who has absolutely zero experience in politics. They prefer a construction mogul TV host, a doctor, or a failed corporate CEO to lead their party, and then the world. If anything explains the state of GOP politics today, there it is. And anyone who thinks that is a Good Thing, it only proves the thesis. Imagine going in for open heart surgery and half the people ask for a doctor who's never been to medical school.
I take no great pleasure in this Republican Party. A mind actually is a terrible thing to waste. And it negatively impacts the rest of the country like dead weight dragging along the bottom. My one hope is that when enough of the Republican Party -- the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, not to mention Nelson Rockefeller, Margaret Chase Smith, Jacob Javits, Charles Percy, Lowell Schweiker, even Barry Goldwater and Everett Dirksen, for goodness sake -- is aghast at what they see, and how they've crumbled their own actual foundation, they will start rebuilding again from the ground up.
To read more from Robert J. Elisberg about this or many other matters both large and tidbit small, see Elisberg Industries.