A chilling new poll conducted by scholars Ariel Malka and Yphtach Lelkes, which they write about in the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog today, finds that not only do nearly half of Republicans falsely believe that President Trump won the popular vote in 2016 and that nearly 70 percent believe that “millions of illegal immigrants voted” in the election, but that more than half would support postponing the 2020 presidential election “until the country can make sure that only eligible American citizens can vote” if Trump were to propose it.
Malka and Lelkes caution that this whole situation is hypothetical and that people’s views might be different if faced with the situation in reality. But they write that their findings, at a minimum “show that a substantial number of Republicans are amenable to violations of democratic norms that are more flagrant than what is typically proposed (or studied).”
It’s worth remembering that one of the many conspiracy theories that the right-wing media propagated about President Obama was that he would invent some kind of crisis in order to justify staying in office for a second term, or even indefinitely.
WorldNetDaily, the website that was the chief driver of the racist “birther” myth, also had a sideline in stories about ways that Obama might manage to stay in office beyond his second term. One WND story speculated that Obama “planned” riots in Baltimore as a step toward instituting martial law, forming a “national police force” and postponing the 2016 elections. Another warned that Obama might use the Ebola virus to create chaos in the country, declare martial law, and cancel the election. WND’s editor, Joseph Farah, repeatedly warned that Obama might find a way to stay in office whether Trump or Hillary Clinton won the election.
When WND asked Ben Carson, then considering his own run for president,“Who would stop Obama from remaining in office past his second term?,” Carson played along.
Alan Keyes, who was Obama’s Republican opponent in the 2004 Illinois Senate race, warned that Obama might use a nuclear war as a pretext to stay in office. Televangelist Jim Bakker and radio hosts Michael Savage, Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh also expressed their concerns about a third Obama term. Paid email blasts went out to the subscribers of several conservative websites warning of some unspecified event that “could propel Obama to a near-unprecedented third term.” In early 2015, a spokesman for the Family Research Council assured worried callers to the group’s radio program that there was “a whole host of people lined up ready to help make sure” that Obama would leave office in 2017, adding that a third Obama term was “a concern” of his as well.
How times have changed.