On the heels of health care, a new Harris poll reveals Republican attitudes about Obama: Two-thirds think he's a socialist, 57 percent a Muslim—and 24 percent say "he may be the Antichrist."
To anyone who thinks the end of the health-care vote means a return to civility, wake up.
Obama Derangement Syndrome—pathological hatred of the president posing as patriotism—has infected the Republican Party. Here's new data to prove it:
- 67 percent of Republicans (and 40 percent of Americans overall) believe that Obama is a socialist.
The belief that Obama is a “domestic enemy” is widely held—a sign of trouble yet to come.
- 57 percent of Republicans (32 percent overall) believe that Obama is a Muslim
- 45 percent of Republicans (25 percent overall) agree with the Birthers in their belief that Obama was "not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president"
- 38 percent of Republicans (20 percent overall) say that Obama is "doing many of the things that Hitler did"
- Scariest of all, 24 percent of Republicans (14 percent overall) say that Obama "may be the Antichrist."
These numbers all come from a brand-new Harris poll, inspired in part by my new book Wingnuts. It demonstrates the cost of the campaign of fear and hate that has been pumped up in the service of hyper-partisanship over the past 15 months. We are playing with dynamite by demonizing our president and dividing the United States in the process. What might be good for ratings is bad for the country.
• Michelle Goldberg: What the Polls Really Show The poll, which surveyed 2,230 people right at the height of the health-care reform debate, also clearly shows that education is a barrier to extremism. Respondents without a college education are vastly more likely to believe such claims, while Americans with college degrees or better are less easily duped. It's a reminder of what the 19th-century educator Horace Mann once too-loftily said: "Ignorance breeds monsters to fill up the vacancies of the soul that are unoccupied by the verities of knowledge."
The full results of the poll, which will be released in greater detail tomorrow, are even more frightening: including news that high percentages of Republicans—and Americans overall—believe that President Obama is "racist," "anti-American" "wants the terrorists to win" and "wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one-world government." The "Hatriot" belief that Obama is a "domestic enemy" as set forth in the Constitution is also widely held—a sign of trouble yet to come. It's the same claim made by Marine Lance Corporal Kody Brittingham in his letter of intent to assassinate the President Obama.
This poll is the latest and most detailed evidence of the extent to which Wingnuts are hijacking our politics. It should be a wakeup call to all Americans and a collective reminder, as we move past health-care reform, that we need to stand up to extremism.
John Avlon's new book Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America is available now by Beast Books both on the Web and in paperback. He is also the author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics. Previously, he served as chief speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.