Could Arizona’s Birther Bill Backfire?

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Arizona’s Republican lawmakers seem bent on turning their state into ground zero for the right-wing fringe: the same day that the state GOP pushed through a radical bill that would require police to interrogate anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant, the Arizona House embraced the “birther” conspiracy about President Barack Obama. On Monday, the state’s House voted for a provision that would require Obama to show his birth certificate to order to be included on the state’s ballot in the presidential election.

But the birther bill could potentially backfire against the Arizona GOP if the public comes to believe that such wacked-out extremism drives their entire agenda. While the Arizona GOP has yet to explicitly link its birther bill with the anti-immigrant drive, it seems clear that both initiatives spring from the same desire to play to the right-wing base. The same GOP leaders are behind both proposals, after all: Arizona Republicans passed its anti-immigration bill almost entirely along party lines, and three-quarters of the state’s GOP caucus supports the birther measure.

But as Dave Weigel notes, birther bill won’t radically empower a nation of conspiracy theorists; they’ll simply embarrass the legislators who’ve endorsed the measure by making them “the laughingstock of the nation,” as one Arizona Democrat puts it. Both the birther and anti-immigrant bills are forms of reactionary hysteria, but the anti-immigration legislation could actually cause substantive harm to Arizona residents. And the more these two campaigns are linked, the better.

 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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