On Saturday, writing for The Intercept, Murtaza Hussain broke down how former President Barack Obama's new book connects the dots directly between the racist "birther" conspiracy theories surrounding his presidency, and the rise of the political movement surrounding Donald Trump.
"Obama does not spend much time directly discussing his experience of race while in office, but, to the extent that he does, he makes a convincing case that the anti-intellectual populist movement now known as Trumpism began in part as a racial backlash to his own presidency — specifically, Trump’s conspiratorial campaign to establish that Obama had been born in a foreign country and was thus ineligible to hold office," wrote Hussain.
"The overpowering insanity of the past five years has drowned out most memories of the 'birther' episode that Obama recounts in his book," continued Hussain. "Looking back, the conspiracy theory and all that went along with it feels like a disturbing early warning sign of the terrifyingly unstable course that U.S. politics had begun to chart. Beginning around early 2011, Trump began publicly questioning Obama’s place of birth, but he also went much further. Trump cast aspersions on Obama’s intelligence, suggesting that his grades, concealed in unreleased college transcripts, must have been poor and that the erudite writing of his previous book, 'Dreams From My Father,' meant that a ghostwriter must have penned it."
The fact that Trump knew how to speak to conspiracy theorists has been a defining feature of his presidency, and of his own political base, which has been a home for paranoid narratives like the QAnon movement.
“What I knew was that he was a spectacle, and in the United States of America in 2011, that was a form of power. Trump trafficked in a currency that, however shallow, seemed to gain more purchase with each passing day,” wrote Obama in the book. “Far from being ostracized for the conspiracies he’d peddled, he in fact had never been bigger.”
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