A lot of Republicans are hoping Donald Trump will go away, and here’s why he won’t: The Thirders aren’t going away, either.
Understand, the Thirders aren’t a lot of us — just a third — but being the life force of the Republican Party, they are enough to run it. That’s a take-away from the announced retirement of Speaker John Boehner. He is conceding the House to the forces of GOP wackery.
We used to know the Thirders as Birthers, but we’ve come to see that they have, um, diversified.
The term “Thirders” is my own. It came from polls that show a solid core of right-wingers resistant to any factual assault: polls consistently showing that one-third of Americans don’t believe President Obama was born here, polls showing that about a third of Americans believe him to be a Muslim.
Anything they can believe about the man, the Thirders will rationalize. Did you hear about the poll showing that one-third of Louisiana Republicans blamed Obama for the poor federal response to Hurricane Katrina – three years before he became president? Did you hear that three years into implementation, a sizable portion of Republicans still believes “death panels” are built into the Affordable Care Act?
Did you hear that Obama will abolish the 22nd Amendment to make himself president for life? I hear this from Thirders who believe it. It would be a trick, considering what it takes to amend the Constitution, but Thirders know Obama is planning it.
It should be no surprise that Donald Trump, the Thirder with the most hair and most money, is leading in the race for the GOP presidential nomination.
It should be no surprise that Ben Carson also is doing well among the Thirders, and Ted Cruz still thinks he can secure their heart
George Will is not a Thirder. He writes that, with his anti-immigrant appeals, Trump wishes to “turn America into a police state in order to facilitate ethnic cleansing.” Yikes.
Charles Krauthammer is not a Thirder. He calls Carson’s assertion that a Muslim should not be president not only contrary to the First Amendment but “morally outrageous.”
Article VI of the Constitution says: “…but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” This matters not to Thirders.
All of this is to point out the mathematical truth that these candidates’ popularity is based on the heartbeat of a fringe of America’s fringe.
Let’s do the Thirder math: If we assume, as polls show, that Republicans and those who lean that way are about 45 percent of voters, and if Trump and Carson are supported by roughly 20 percent of them apiece (new CNN poll), that means that they are supported by 9 percent apiece of all of us. If 11 percent of Republicans fall for Carly Fiorina’s increasingly fact-challenged claims, that’s about 5 percent of us. If Cruz is supported by 5 percent of Republicans, that represents 2.25 percent of us.
Is Marco Rubio a Thirder? He made quite a play the other day. He implied that women get abortions for a piece of the profit alleged to Planned Parenthood from the sale of fetal tissue. That claim — illegal profiteering — is one that rafts of investigations and investigators have failed to prove.
Let’s say such irresponsible claims are a reason why Rubio now has 11 percent support among Republicans (having gained Thirder street cred). That’s, once again, 5 percent of us.
Add the cumulative support of Trump, Carson, Fiorina, Rubio and Cruz, and you’ve got – what did I say? – just about one third of Americans, spectacularly resistant to anything approaching reality, and ready to vote that way.
Longtime newspaper editor John Young lives in Colorado. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org.