Meme-Busting: Obama’s Secret Plan to Win in 2012

"Don't tell anyone what I told you, okay?" According to two GOP congressmen, President Obama has a secret plan to steal the 2012 election.<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/5937200216/sizes/z/in/photostream/">Pete Souza</a>/Flickr


Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) believes he’s uncovered President Obama’s secret plan to win next fall’s presidential election: Grant citizenship to millions of undocumented residents with the expectation that they’ll check his name at the ballot box come 2012. He’s not alone; Rep. Louie Gohmert floated a similar conspiracy theory last week, telling Fox News that Obama would attempt to steal the election through some combination of massive voter fraud and blanket amnesty.

Here’s what Coffman told Denver’s Caplis & Silverman radio show last month:

There’s another piece of this puzzle. What the Administration is doing, is taking a very aggressive move in the people that have illegal status and moving them through citizenship and waving all the fees and waving anything they can to get the process done in time for 2012. That’s something I would love to see the media focus on.

Mercy! Expect to hear a lot more talk like this over the next 12 months, as right-wing media outlets shift into overdrive in the run-up to the election. The same thing transpired with ACORN in 2008 when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) famously declared that we are “on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.” (We’re still here.)

 

But is there anything to it? Jason Salzman, a Colorado blogger, took Coffman’s suggestion and looked into it. The short answer is no. That’s the longer answer, too.

As Salzman notes, undocumented immigrants can’t be moved through the citizenship process, because a prerequisite of applying for citizenship is that you have to be living here legally. The number of fee waivers that have been granted have increased, but again, there’s no way to grant a fee waiver to someone who isn’t a lawful resident so that’s kind of moot; the change is due to the fact that there wasn’t previously an easy way to apply. And most crucially, there hasn’t actually been an increase in the number of naturalized citizens:

The increased number of fee waivers does not translate into more people actually becoming U.S. citizens with voting rights. The total number of people who went through the naturalization process has decreased during the Obama Administration (about 676,000 in FY 2010, about 744,000 in FY 2009, about 1,047,000 in FY 2008, 660,000 in FY 2007, and 702,000 in FY 2006), according to [United States Citizenship and Immigration Services] data.

If President Obama is secretly granting citizenship to undocumented residents, he’s doing a really terrible job. The larger issue here for Coffman, though, isn’t really about immigrants, it’s about voter turnout—he’s also sponsored legislation to repeal the portion of the Voting Rights Act requiring that ballots be printed in languages other than English. For that, I’d recommend Ari Berman’s excellent Rolling Stone piece on the GOP’s “War on Voting.”

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate