Is Donald Trump a “Birther”?

Donald Trump has been making a very publicly visible appeal to President Obama to settle the matter once and for all and make his birth certificate public. Does this make Trump a “birther”?

First, keep in mind that the term “birther” has been used by the media to stigmatize a portion of the American electorate as right-wing kooks. Some media outlets seem to have calculated that by calling these American citizens by this epithet it will eventually embarrass and silence them, or at least contain their influence.

This appears to be a clear effort to defend the President. But defend him from what? Apparently, the President’s stubborn refusal to publish his birth certificate is viewed even by his defenders as a posture that is worthy of media defense. But why?

And what exactly is a birther? You’re definitely supposed to be a birther if you actually believe that Obama was not born in the United States. There are people in this country who believe this. So they have the clearest claim to the epithet. And maybe some of these “true believers” wear the epithet with pride.

Are you a birther if you are genuinely concerned about the possibility that Obama was not born in this country, and would simply like for him to step up and prove that he was? I wouldn’t say so. And this seems to be Donald Trump’s attitude. Trump, as far as I can tell, is not a birther. He has said that he hopes Obama was born in this country. Would a real birther hope for this?

With Trump’s recent appeal to Obama to take the very simple step of proving his citizenship, I’ve thought about the issue a bit more than in the past. It now seems to me that Obama has repudiated an opportunity to demonstrate good will toward all Americans, including those who would like to have clarity about this matter. What possible harm can there be in accommodating a reasonable request for such information? What past American President would refuse to make his birth certificate public if there was such a broad interest in seeing his American citizenship demonstrated?

Many who are not generally considered birthers have enjoined Obama to produce his certificate. In response, challengers often say, “Do you believe that Obama was not born in the United States?” And if the answer is, “No,” then challengers think it’s stupid to ask the President for his birth certificate. But it isn’t stupid. If there is enough concern among the American people to see this demonstrated, then that should be reason enough for the President to accommodate them.

That’s my view, then. Without believing that Obama was born outside the United States, I do believe he very simply ought to make his birth certificate public. I believe this because his refusal to do so has revealed a stubbornness that is unbecoming of the leader of our nation. There’s some reason why he does not wish to give satisfaction to those who have called for it. Those reasons create suspicion and escalate discord about the matter. Why not “bring the country together” on such a small point?

Trump alleges that Obama has spent quite a bit of money to ensure that his birth certificate does not come to light. If that’s true, I’d like to know why. Does it lead me to believe that Obama was not born in the U.S.? No.

Others have said that media outlets are so thorough in their scrutiny of a presidential candidate that if Obama was not born in the United States, then this would have been exposed during Obama’s candidacy. But doesn’t this argument cut the other way just as well? Doesn’t it stand to reason that if Obama was born in the United States—given the huge controversy concerning the President’s citizenship—compelling evidence that he was born in the U.S. would have come to light via media scrutiny? The evidence, apparently, hasn’t been conclusive either way.

The issue hasn’t subsided and there’s reason to think it will haunt the President in the future. It’s looking now like Obama will be confronted with this issue again as he campaigns for a second term. Will the pressure be great enough this time round for him to capitulate and make his birth certificate public? Who can say? If the President was not born in the U.S., then, by Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution, Obama is not the legitimate President of the United States. That would provide motive for refusing to go public. But if that’s true, how long can the truth be suppressed? I imagine that sooner or later, even if Obama is elected for a second term, actual dissembling about his citizenship would come to light eventually. And that would not be good for Obama.

Here’s something to consider. There’s a good chance that the history books will note the issue and document Obama’s determination not to publicize his birth certificate. Readers will not have the benefit of observing his charisma and judge his likeability. If the President isn’t eventually forthcoming, perhaps a majority of Americans a couple generations from now will be birthers. That would not be good for Obama, either. What President would wish to go down in history as very possibly the only “American President” who was never really a legitimate President? The only way for Obama to ensure that that never happens is for him to produce his birth certificate.

Notes:

  • FactCheck.com concluded that an alleged digital copy of the certificate, released by the Obama 2008 Campaign, is of an authentic certificate for Obama from Hawaii. The story features a foto with the caption “The Obama birth certificate, held by FactCheck writer Joe Miller.”
  • Snopes.com also has written in defense of this perspective.
  • See Wikipedia articles on conspiracy theories about the Obama birth certificate and about Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Donald Trump appears to be testing the water for a run at the presidency in 2012. Could this be why he has re-introduced the topic of Obama’s birth certificate into the national discussion?
  • Chester Arthur, 21st President of the U.S., has gone down in history with doubts about his citizenship still lingering. Vice President Arthur succeeded President James Garfield after Garfield died of gunshot wounds caused by an assassin.

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About Doug Geivett
University Professor; PhD in philosophy; author; conference speaker. Hobbies include motorcycling, travel, kayaking, sailing.

6 Responses to Is Donald Trump a “Birther”?

  1. Android says:

    Trump is the only one with enough audacity to come out and face sensitive issues. Trump loves debate, and he loves winning debate, because winning debates and staying on top is what Trump does for a living – naturally. I know if he became president he is going to tell it like it is from the podium and none of this go hide behind congress BS we get from every president. Not to mention the American economy can only get better if it plays a trump card – and how overdue the US is for a TRUMP card!!! So if Trump wants to get real on the ballot, I am voting for him. Its not a joke anymore because the US is in deep financial debt and Trump is the only one who understands this and knows how to climb out of the hole. The only ones who will hate Trump are the other country leaders who will be jealous of the US moving forward with financial stability and prosperity. I think its time we stop wiping everyone elses butts and lay the smack down with the trump card ballot. Enough said.

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  2. Pingback: National Unity Above Partisanship - Yeah Right » RobertKunda.com

  3. Jecolon says:

    Come on! Everybody knows by reading the entire history of Obama knows that he is selected and not elected. He was selected by the socialist communist progressive party that has waited for years to implant one of their own in the whitehouse. He is for partial abortion, he is for homosexuality, he is for redistribution, he is for suing the whiteman for his trangressions of slavery, he is for windmills, he is for union, he is for the pity for Hamas, he is against Israel, he is against the very foundation of Judeo-Christianity. Period! One fo the things that we, at the assembly of G-d, have always said: You know the beast name and the children of wisdom can sense his presence. The demon that rules democracy and have the legion of democrats will not stand when the truth is reveal. And Trump is revealing it , finally.

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  4. Alex says:

    Doug,
    No criticism or comment here, just straight up praise. I enjoyed this piece. Plenty of great distinctions and questions (the sign good ‘judgment’ is behind things). Well written and provocative. Clear and engaging. Interesting and important. Thanks again, for your perspective, Doug. Keep it comin’!

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  5. Mark Elson says:

    Nice piece here Doug!

    In either case; to take the position of a “birther” or to place people into the place of a “birther” does seem to judge a book by its cover.

    In the Wikipedia site (as far as we can depend on the information there) Obama produced a “certification of live birth”. My kids have these also – it means that they are American citizens but there place of birth was not America.

    What really startles me about this – how is it that within the process of running for presidency, one does not have to provide such basic information as a full (long form) birth certificate as part of the “filing process” submitted for the right to start a candidacy process.
    .

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  6. Pingback: PRESIDENT OBAMA… SHOW YOUR BIRTH CERTIFICATE!!! « twitsthattweet

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