Not just birtherism

47% of Republican voters answer “No” to “Do you believe that America and Africa were once part of the same continent?” Only 24% answer “Yes.” No wonder Republicans want to destroy public education, when they depend on the votes of the ignorant.

Commenting on my birtherism post, a reader writes:

If you look at that Kos poll about Obama’s birth, there was another question that was also asked:

QUESTION: Do you believe that America and Africa were once part of the same continent?

         Y  N NS

ALL 42 26 32

DEM 51 16 33

REP 24 47 29

IND 44 23 33

Couple of things: Independents and Democrats see this mostly the same way: favoring the scientific view. Republicans are clearly a biblical-fundamentalist party and, I’d argue, more that than “southern”.

It makes me think that this hard core of Republicans are faith-based and that standard-issue “reason” just isn’t going to work in the political arena. Won’t work regarding Obama’s birth status. Won’t work regarding economic policy, foreign policy, environmental policy, etc.

Having a contingent of unpersuadable-by-the-other-side is good for a party – even if they’re nuts. These faithers are firm Republicans. The question that remains is this: Will other voters percieve the Republican party as part and parcel of that group? On that, I’m unsure.

“Not sure” is a reasonable answer; there’s no particular need for every citizen to be familiar with plate tectonics. But “no” is either a dimwit answer, a Biblical-literalist answer, or a racist answer. (I wonder how different the answer would have been if the question had specified South America.) Ladies and gentleman, may I present the Republican Party?

The little bit of good news is that the non-mouth-breathing wing of the GOP is at least slightly embarrassed by all this. The claim that the prominence of birtherism is a plot of the Librul Media Establishment is as divorced from reality is birtherism itself, but at least it expresses an appropriate shame about what has become the Republican base.

Footnote Again, the South stands out, with a plurality of Southerners answering “No.” In the rest of the country the correct “Yes” answer beat “No” by more than 2:1. I hope the Research 2000 folks publish the full set of cross-tabs.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: