I was bewildered by how many people I knew, who were relatively astute, embraced birtherism.

Birtherism was the conspiracy theory claiming Barack Obama was not a natural born U.S. citizen and therefore was ineligible to be President. Obama defeated John McCain in the 2008 election. If the conspiracy theory was true, why would McCain and the GOP not cry foul?

Obama’s birth was recorded in The Honolulu Advertiser and The Honolulu Star-Bulletin. How could so many people be duped? A 2016 CBS News poll found 72% of registered Republican voters doubted Obama’s citizenship. Trump was a staunch birther, and yet many people ignored this red flag and voted for Trump.

A well-known quotation states, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Many attribute this quotation to Sinclair Lewis writing in “It Can’t Happen Here” published in 1935. The actual source of the quotation is unknown, but the story is familiar.

In Lewis' book, Buzz Windrip, a demagogue promising economic reform, is elected president. Windrip’s campaign is built on oppression of women, Black Americans, immigrants and Jewish Americans. Windrip takes control of the government and imposes totalitarian rule with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force like the European fascists of the time.

Trump is a serial liar, making more than 20 false or misleading claims in his Republican National Convention acceptance speech.

Can’t happen here? It is happening here. Are voters now astute enough to not drink Trump’s Kool-Aid? I hope so.

NORMAN AULABAUGH

Orfordville

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