A new focus group study from the Democratic-friendly polling firm of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research shows that right-wing Republicans have jumped the political rails to inhabit a world of their own. The dominant "fact" for this band of conservatives is that President Barack Obama has a secret plan to impose socialism on the United States and repress the citizenry. Consequently, they believe that Obama's success is tantamount to the destruction of the country.
From the study:
The self-identifying conservative Republicans who make up the base of the Republican Party stand a world apart from the rest of America, according to focus groups conducted by DemocracyCorps. These base Republican voters dislike Barack Obama to be sure – which is not very surprising as base Democrats had few positive things to say about George Bush – but these voters identify themselves as part of a 'mocked' minority with a set of shared beliefs and knowledge, and commitment to oppose Obama that sets them apart from the majority in the country. They believe Obama is ruthlessly advancing a ‘secret agenda’ to bankrupt the United States and dramatically expand government control to an extent nothing short of socialism. While these voters are disdainful of a Republican Party they view to have failed in its mission, they overwhelmingly view a successful Obama presidency as the destruction of this country’s founding principles and are committed to seeing the president fail.
In a conference call, pollster Stan Greenberg and consultant/celebrity James Carville pointed out that this study—which was based on interviews with conservative Republicans in suburban Atlanta—did not identify race as a factor in shaping the attitudes of these right wingers. But the focus group participants believe that Obama is representing dark and unseen forces.
Karl Agne, a consultant who worked on the study, noted during the call that the participants became rather conspiratorial when discussing the president. Asked where Obama was born, these folks, according to Agne, took a deeply skeptical position: "You'll never know." They insisted that Obama's true past has been hidden and that the sort of information provided by previous presidents about their backgrounds has in the case of Obama been denied to the American public. They also believe that Obama is a front-man. As Agne describes it, they've concluded that "there is no way a community organizer could have risen to this point without powerful interests driving this....He couldn't have possibly done this on his own."
These conservatives repeatedly asserted that Obama has a grand plan to wreck the United States by both ruining the economy and destroying civil liberties. The report notes:
Conservative Republicans do not oppose Obama’s policies simply because they think they are misguided or out of partisan fervor. Rather, they believe his policies are purposely designed to fail. When they look at the totality of his agenda, they see a deliberate effort to drive our country so deep into debt, to make the majority of Americans so dependent on the government, and to strip away so many basic constitutional rights that we are too weak to fight back and have to accept whatever solution he proposes.
But the focus group participants, who expressed angry disappointment with the Republican Party and its leaders for not mounting a more fierce opposition, did note that something of an "underground movement" is building to resist Obama's plot. And they identified Fox News, Glenn Beck, and the so-called Tea Parties as manifestations of this nascent uprising.
So is this a problem for Obama? Probably not. The White House can dismiss this group as a right-wing fringe. The real dilemma is for the Republican Party. How can it speak to (or appease) these voters without appearing extreme and without alienating reasonable Republicans and independents? After all, GOP chairman Michael Steele, Republican congressional leaders, and the party's 2012 presidential contenders will have a tough time remaining in the real world while courting conservatives who reside somewhere else. But if GOP leaders don't join the underground movement hailed by these conservatives, won't that indicate that they, too, are part of the Obama conspiracy?
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