For eight years, right-wing activists have been making dire predictions about what President Obama would do during his time in office. Some have warned that the president will begin seizing guns and arresting critics any day now. More than a few worried that the president would invade Texas or organize his own private army for other nefarious purposes.
Technically, Obama still has a few more hours to fulfill the far-right’s many doomsday prophecies about his presidency, but it appears much more likely that these conservative activists simply lied in order to fuel baseless fears about Obama, who, despite their best efforts, is leaving office with a 60 percent approval rating.
While this is by no means a complete list, we’ve collected ten of the most absurd predictions that Obama’s critics have made about his time in office, which, as January 20 approaches, are looking less and less likely to come true.
1) Obama Will Create Death Panels
One of the most pernicious and persistent lies about Obama’s presidency has been that he used the Affordable Care Act to establish “death panels.”
Many critics of health care reform falsely claimed that the new law would enforce rationing that would discriminate against elderly people, people with prior health issues and people with disabilities. Some Republican politicians, including Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, went a step further in suggesting that an actual government body would be formed to determine whether people lived or died. GOP leaders including former House speakers John Boehner and Newt Gingrich raised the prospect of state-sponsored euthanasia.
Fox News hosts naturally ran with the “death panels” hoax, and the claim’s originator, former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey, eventually became a Fox News personality and later an adviser to Donald Trump.
Even years after the law’s passage, conservatives like Republican Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas and commentator Ben Shapiro kept insisting that the death panels were on their way, even when it became obvious they did not exist.
At least one popular conservative website even pushed a fake news article claiming that the death panels had already begun executing elderly people.
2) Obama Will Kill His Critics
WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah, writing just days before the 2012 election, predicted that if “Barack Obama is re-elected Nov. 6 for a second term, he will declare a full-scale war on his domestic opposition.”
“There may not be another free and fair election in America,” Farah wrote. “I would expect due process to go the way of the horse and buggy. I think he will move to shut down and destroy all independent media. In fact, I think his biggest critics will be rounded up in the name of national security.”
Far-right radio host Michael Savage worried in 2015 that Obama would begin executing people, much like in the French Revolution.
Glenn Beck even believed that the riots in cities like Baltimore and Ferguson were simply part of a larger scheme to “set the whole country on fire” and would lead to a wave of killings of Obama critics, such as Beck himself.
3) Obama Will Spread Disease In Order To Imprison Americans
While describing the “looming crises to watch in 2015,” right-wing legal activist Larry Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch, declared that “Obama’s mission is not only truly treasonous, but also truly evil.”
“He is more dangerous than the terrorists themselves, because he is destroying us from within,” Klayman said of the president. One way Obama may bring harm to Americans, Klayman said, would be by creating the possibility of “a massive epidemic” and “a real and imminent health crisis” by letting Ebola-infected people from West Africa—including “suicide terrorists” who had infected themselves with the virus—into the U.S.
Klayman was far from alone in sharing this fear: During the height of the Ebola epidemic in 2014, conservatives spread widespread panic about the possibility of Obama enabling an outbreak of the disease in the U.S.
Donald Trump, then teasing a presidential run, questioned Obama’s mental health, calling him a “psycho” for not stopping flights from Ebola-stricken countries, and warned that the president would end up bringing “the plague back to U.S.”
Steve Stockman, then a Republican congressman from Texas, wondered whether Obama really wanted to fight the spread of Ebola or if he really intended to “create a greater crisis to use it as a blunt force to say, well in order to solve this crisis we’re going to have to take control of the economy and individuals and so forth.”
Michael Savage, a conservative radio host, said Obama “wants to infect the nation with Ebola” and “might use Ebola as a pretext” to “gain even more power” and justify launching a “Kristallnacht” against conservatives. End Times preacher Rick Wiles similarly posited that the spread of Ebola was part of a “carefully crafted plan” to “round up patriots,” warning that Obama might “contaminate the VA hospitals with the Ebola virus” and send the people infected with the virus to “recovery and reeducation camps.”
One far-right columnist estimated that over 25 million people might die due to an Obama-inflicted health crisis. End Times broadcaster Steve Quayle, discussing the “global Ebola plague, warned that Obama’s reaction to the epidemic could “supersede” the damage done by murderous dictators like Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot.
Other far-right pundits warned that Obama might spread Ebola and then use the crisis as an excuse to cancel the 2016 election, implant “a tracker” into people, declare martial law, force people into concentration camps and put the dead in “FEMA coffins.”
Beyond Ebola, Janet Porter, the conservative activist who leads the Religious Right group Faith 2 Action, thought Obama could use swine flu fears to throw people into FEMA camps or create “a food shortage” that would be used to grow government and starve people to death.
4) Obama Will Start A Race War
Many conservative commentators believed that Obama was behind anti-police-brutality demonstrations that turned violent in cities like Baltimore and Ferguson.
Savage, the radio commentator, said the “racist” Obama administration was going to “try to stimulate insurrection in this country in order to declare martial law” since the “entire federal government is geared up to fight a war against white people.” The Department of Homeland Security, he said, was ready to “mow down” armed demonstrators during the Bundy ranch standoff in Nevada because they were predominately white.
Finding it “remarkable that Obama has not renamed the White House ‘the Black House,’” Larry Klayman wrote in WorldNetDaily that the “racist Obama and his henchmen like Eric Holder have succeeded in creating what in effect is a huge racial divide and race war in the nation, pitting black against white and vice versa” and turning white people into second class citizens.
Far-right commentator Stan Solomon even wondered if Obama would establish “a black force” to attack white people.
5) Obama Will Create A Personal Brownshirt Army
Ret. Gen. Jerry Boykin, who now serves as the executive vice president of the Family Research Council, repeatedly predicted that Obama planned to “establish a constabulary force” through the Affordable Care Act that would “control the population in America” much in the same way that Adolf Hitler used the Brownshirts to consolidate power, basing his accusation on a debunked myth about the health care law.
Boykin wasn’t alone in predicting that Obama would create such an army.
Another former military official, Ret. Army Major General Jerry Curry, warned that the Obama administration might “arm illegal immigrants” to begin killing Americans, with a focus on assassinating members of the armed forces.
Then-Republican Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia similarly warned in 2008 that Obama’s proposed expansion of national service programs was “exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany” and “exactly what the Soviet Union did.” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, claimed in 2013 that Obama’s “secret security force” was already in existence.
Lawrence C. Mackin, a conservative writer, warned that Obama was bent on creating a “private internal army” including “illegal aliens” and Middle Eastern terrorists, and William Gheen of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC said Obama would give immigrants “a badge and a gun” in order to target the “Christian, heterosexual male” population. Far-right activist Jim Garrow thought Obama would fake contact with aliens in order to justify the creation of his own army.
Convinced that President Obama was set to wage an anti-white race war, radio host Michael Savage said that Obama intended to arm and “deputize” members of the Crips and Bloods gangs and turn them into his “shock troops.” He also claimed that Black Lives Matter supporters would be “Obama’s shock troops” and “secret private army” much like “the Brownshirts that Hitler had.”
6) Obama Will Seize Guns
Throughout Obama’s time in office, gun groups have made hay over patently false claims that the president was prepared to do away with the Second Amendment and ban guns.
Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, predicted that Obama would “erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights and exorcise it from the U.S. Constitution” if he won re-election, insisting that Obama went after gun owners “harder than he attacked ISIS.” Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt similarly suggested that Obama was organizing a Big Government scheme to confiscate guns, and might even use his (nonexistent) private army to seize Americans’ guns.
Back in 2015, Trump said he heard that Obama was going to use an executive order to “take your guns away”:
You know, the president is thinking about signing an executive order where he wants to take your guns away. You hear this one? This is the new. Not gonna happen. That won’t happen. But that’s a tough one, I think that’s a tough one for him to do when you actually have the Second Amendment. That’s tough. Because there’s plenty of executive orders being signed, you know that. And we can’t let that go on. So it’ll all stop … It’ll stop very soon, I think, because people are tired of what’s going on, and they’re tired of what’s happening to our country.
When asked by CNN host Alisyn Camerota about his charge, Trump insisted that he never actually said that Obama wants to confiscate guns, just that he had “heard” from “somebody” that “that’s what he’s thinking about” doing. (He went on to falsely claim that Hillary Clinton “wants to take your guns away” and “abolish” the Second Amendment.)
Rafael Cruz, the father of Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, repeatedly charged that Obama was getting ready to seize all guns in order to become a murderous dictator akin to Stalin.
The baseless conspiracy theory helped set the stage for Sandy Hook truthers, who claimed that the 2012 massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut, was an elaborate hoax to justify a gun confiscation scheme.
7) Obama Will Invade Texas
Several Republican politicians, including presidential hopefuls, couldn’t help themselves from seizing on the completely unbelievable conspiracy theory that the Obama administration was planning a federal takeover Texas under the pretext of a 2015 military exercise known as Jade Helm 15.
Knowing that a large number of conservatives believed in the conspiracy theory, these politicians sniffed an opportunity to throw some red meat at the expense of, you know, the truth. The governor of Texas even ordered the Texas State Guard to “monitor Operation Jade Helm 15” to make sure it didn’t infringe on Texans’ civil liberties.
While there wasn’t one standard Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theory, the gist was that Obama was planning to use the military exercise to enforce federal, possibly military, rule over Texas, likely because it is a bastion of conservatism.
As we’ve previously noted, many far-right activists saw Jade Helm 15 as “part of a secret effort to take over conservative states like Texas, impose martial law, confiscate people’s firearms, round up ‘patriotic men,’ force people into cattle cars and lock them up in Wal-Marts that have been converted into FEMA camps.”
Wiles, the religious radio broadcaster, referred to Jade Helm 15 as a “two-month-long Night of the Long Knives” and even warned about a potential government-initiated nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack on Texas. Televangelist Jim Bakker said that he might even go to jail (again) as a result of Jade Helm 15.
After the exercise began, one fake news site fabricated a story that it had resulted in civilian casualties.
Panic about Jade Helm had serious consequences: The FBI arrested a group of people planning to attack soldiers participating in the exercise, and some service members came under fire as the exercise began.
8) Obama Will Ban The Bible
Following the passage of the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which Obama signed in 2009, Republicans warned that the freedom of religion and speech for Christians would soon disappear due to government oppression. Subsequent advances in LGBT equality, especially the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision striking down state-level same-sex marriage bans, only made the persecution rhetoric more panicked.
Anti-LGBT activists predicted after the passage of the hate crimes act that the government would begin prosecuting and imprisoning Christians who criticized homosexuality. The Traditional Values Coalition claimed that “the new Hate Crimes Act that President Obama signed into law makes the Bible illegal ‘Hate Literature.’”
Several Republican politicians even claimed that the law granted legal protections to pedophiles.
In 2013, Rick Scarborough, a conservative pastor who once threatened to file a lawsuit against homosexuality, claimed that the Obama administration was “hell-bent on silencing the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” warning that Christians may be “thrown into concentration camps” at some point in the future. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins warned just last year that Obama was using gay rights to “eliminate” Christianity and “punish speech—and belief.”
Far-right fake news sites have similarly predicted that Obama will outlaw Christmas and “criminalize Christianity.”
9) Obama Will Impose Sharia Law
Among the most popular and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories surrounding Obama was the enduring claim that he was just about to impose Sharia law on Americans, if he hadn’t already.
While discussing his book on Obama’s “progressive/Islamic takeover” in 2015, Savage claimed that Obama was bringing in 100,000 Muslims into America every month to help “the Islamism creeping into the country,” which he posited could eventually lead to the government deciding to “ban dogs.”
Sen. Ted Cruz even went so far as to falsely claim that the Obama administration put into place a “ban on anti-Muslim rhetoric.” Then-Rep. Michele Bachmann alleged in 2012 that Obama had enforced “Islamic speech codes here in the United States” as part of his supposed push for Sharia law.
In a WorldNetDaily column posted weeks before the 2008 election, Faith 2 Action’s Janet Porter delivered a “newscast of the future” in which she predicted, among other things, that Obama would personally meet with Osama bin Laden, begin broadcasting the Muslim call to prayer in the capital five times a day and have people face Mecca at a Presidential Prayer Breakfast keynoted by Louis Farrakhan.
Kamal Saleem, who claims to be a former terrorist and is now a conservative speaker, claimed in 2012 that Obama planned on “legalizing terrorism” and predicted that the Obama administration would begin shutting down churches and synagogues in 2013. He claimed that Obama had already set up an Islamic “shadow government” that was using an Obama family babysitter, Roe v. Wade and the military to impose Sharia law.
Right-wing conspiracy theorist Avi Lipkin claimed in 2012 that Obama would receive trillions of dollars in aid from Saudi Arabia and, in return, would begin imposing Sharia law and settling “50 to 100 million” Muslim immigrants on “lands confiscated by Agenda 21.”
10) Obama Will Stay In Office
Conservative radio hosts from Rush Limbaugh to Alex Jones have suggested that Obama may try to remain in office when his second term is over, a conspiracy theory that gained attention throughout the far-right.
The fear of an Obama third term gained such attention that Ben Carson, who later became a GOP presidential candidate and is now Trump’s nominee to be the secretary of housing, became worried about a canceled election and an Obama third-term plot.
Few, however, went as far as Rev. Austin Miles, who claimed in 2014 that there was a plan “for Obama to use Executive Order to declare himself, Dictator for Life in 2016,” or End Times preacher Rick Wiles, who said in 2013 that Obama would take a trip to Jerusalem on which he “enters the Temple and declares himself as God.”