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The Financial Express

Donald Trump ends his racist \"birther\" movement: Will it affect his campaign?

| Updated: October 18, 2017 04:42:26


Donald Trump ends his racist \"birther\" movement: Will it affect his campaign?

 

The single important factor with which Donald Trump made his way from a rank outsider to win the Republican Party's nomination and now has come within striking distance of the White House is not his "ban Muslim" demand or fear-mongering with radical Islam and ISIS or even calling the Mexicans, rapists and criminals. He used these issues with good measures of success. These issues did not give him the numbers with which he is now catching up with Hillary Clinton in the polls.
Donald Trump's masterstroke that has helped him to rise this far has been the one with which he started his journey to the White House in 2011. That year he started what has subsequently become known as the "birther" movement; he claimed to have had "irrefutable proof" that President Barack Obama was not born in America and therefore was an "illegitimate" President. He further alleged that Obama had a secret pro-Muslim agenda as his father was a Muslim and his middle name "Hussein" is a Muslim name.
The "birther" movement was never treated seriously though it had too many flaws. The flaws notwithstanding, the so-called movement had tacit support among many Americans, not just on the right of the political divide but also across it, among the country's whites. The "birther" movement is a purely racist movement - 99 per cent according to General Colin Powell. Donald Trump knew that all along. In fact; it is the racist nature of the "birther" movement that encouraged him to make it his major strategy to win the Republican nomination.
Donald Trump knew that within the Republican Party supporters, many believed in the "birther" movement because they never accepted in their hearts, an African-American as the President of the United States. He also knew that the number of such people was large enough to give him the Republican ticket. He further knew that that the Tea Party movement that had taken over the Republican Party at the Congress had a huge number of supporters at the grassroots who also did not like President Obama because of his colour. The Tea Party in the Congress has hounded the President constantly threatening to impeach him even when he was achieving success all around, particularly with the economy.
Donald Trump targeted the Tea Party supporters confident they would lean towards him because of the "birther" movement with little more incentive. He thus added his message of change with a strong underpinning of contempt against Washington, the "ban Muslim" demand and attacks on Mexicans. Trump also expected that uncommitted whites and even some among the Democrats, who have not been comfortable with an African-American in the White House, would back him because of the "birther" movement. 
The admission by Donald Trump finally that his "birther" movement has been a lie and that President Obama was born a US citizen is not just any of the lies, untruths and half-truths that he has spoken publicly almost on a daily basis. This is the core theme around which he has built his campaign and around which he has brought the majority of his supporters behind him. This admission has exposed that, first, the core of his campaign strategy has been nothing but a humungous lie; second, this lie has been manufactured deliberately to build a conspiracy theory for tapping into the latent dislike  in a large section of the whites against the President just because he is an African-American.
The admission has also come at a critical time when Donald Trump has almost caught up with the insurmountable lead of Hillary Clinton that she had held coming out of the Party's Convention in July. The two issues with which he had done this have been Hillary Clinton's remark that half of his supporters are "deplorable" and her bout with pneumonia. Both the issues are now losing bite and tapering off. It is now to be seen how the admission that the "birther" movement has been a lie all along would impact the campaign of the Republican candidate and reverse Donald Trump's rise in the polls in recent weeks.
Donald trump's statement admitting that the "birther" movement is a lie was only 26 seconds long. He left the media appearance in a hurry as the media shouted questions at him afraid that if he had stayed, the media would have torn him apart. The media has nevertheless been unequivocal in exposing the admission to underline, finally, that the campaign of Donald Trump has been little else but an amalgam of racism, lies and untruths. 
Nevertheless, every lie that Donald Trump has said in public on the campaign trail has been with a clever calculation  to win the election by hook or by crook. In this admission as well where he has admitted that he has wilfully and knowingly lied on the legitimacy of President Barack Obama's presidency, there is a devilish reason that explains why he allowed the country to see him for what he really is - one for whom it is the end that justifies the means. 
Donald Trump knows already that he has burnt all his bridges to the African-American vote. He also knows that he has little chances to improve upon the Hispanic votes that Governor Mitt Romney had received in 2012. He knows too that the "birther" movement, whichever way it is played, would not help or harm his chances with the groups that have brought him this far except one that is vital to him now. This is the group of college-educated white voters.  
Hillary Clinton had built almost insurmountable lead following the Democratic Convention in July based to some extent on the backing of this group of college-educated white voters that "no Democratic presidential nominee has carried in the history of modern polling dating back to 1952." Donald Trump now needs this group very badly and critically. He has taken the calculated risk to give up on the Hispanic and African American votes for those of the college educated whites hoping they would see his admission of the lie over the "birther" movement as a good move for bringing to an end the lie about President Obama. 
The question with 52 days now left for the election is: one, whether Donald Trump would lose his poll numbers with this admission, and second, whether the college educated white voters would go into denial over his admission of the lie with the "birther" movement and drop Hillary Clinton for him. 
So far, Donald Trump has been able to use his litany of lies and untruths and conspiracy theories to fool many to back his campaign. One reason he has been able to do so is because the media did little to expose the hateful aspects of his campaign. The media may no longer be willing to give Donald Trump the helping hand. It now realises that he has been making a fool of it because it has been allowing him to manipulate it at will. 
In fact, President Abraham Lincoln's oft-repeated quote that "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time" describes Donald Trump's current predicament.
The writer is a retired Ambassador.
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