A few weeks ago the worst kept secret in American politics was revealed when freshman Texas senator Ted Cruz threw his hat into the ring to be the Republican candidate in the 2016 Presidential election. The Canadian born Cruz’s hungry ambitions for the Oval Office have been well known ever since he bounded onto the world stage following the 2012 elections and the fierce loyalty he’s inspired among the Tea Party crowd south of the border has only fueled his leadership fires further.   And since Cruz announced his plans to earn the right to carry the GOP’s standard into 2016, first dropping the mic on Twitter late Sunday night and then officially announcing his intentions at Liberty College last Monday (in a speech that was mandatory for the entire student body), a lot of mockery has been making the rounds, along with one question that current President Barrack Obama probably never wants to hear ever again.

Where’s the birth certificate?

And the answer is something that most of us have long suspected, one that finally lays bare the double standard based on the fact that Cruz is white while Obama makes the unforgiveable mistake (in the eyes of the far American political right) of being half black.

Ever since Barrack Obama was elected in 2008, the American right, with the “grassroots” Tea party movement as their chief attack dogs, have dogged him with constant, often racist questions about his birth certificate. He was, as his many detractors allege, born in Kenya and therefore not eligible to be President (citing the “natural-born citizen” clause in the American constitution regarding who can be President). Regardless of what Obama and his camp have provided proving he was born on American soil (Hawaii, to be precise), the voices questioning his citizenship have increased and have often been sponsored by far right wing media. When the White House tried to finally put the issue to bed and provided Obama’s long form birth certificate in 2011, FOX News regular Eric Bolling blew up a copy and used a laser pointer to indicate “flaws” and “irregularities” on his show. It wasn’t a new trick, rather one he picked up from Donald Trump, who has harassed the U.S.’s Commander-in-Chief relentlessly on this issue. He’s allegedly dispatched an army of private investigators to Hawaii to disprove Obama’s claims and in 2012, just two weeks before the last Presidential election, he taunted Obama with an offer to make a five million dollar donation to the charity of the President’s choice if Obama offered his college transcripts and passport application (as a funny side-note to that little carnival, Trump and those who applauded his offer fully supported then Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s refusal to provide tax returns going back more then two years).

The Birthers, as the birth certificate conspiracy theorists are now known, not only refuse to accept Obama’s validity as an America ciizen and President, but they’ve taken their often violent rhetoric one step further, painting him as an Islamic terrorist transplant bent to ruin the United States from within, to give away its sovereignty and eventually convert everyone into Muslims. California resident Orly Taitz has become the Birthers folk hero, and it’s almost impossible to count the number of lawsuits she’s filed alleging Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery (she also subscribes to the “secret Islamic terrorist” theory, among many others). Taitz’s judicial absurdity was so bad that in 2009 she was ordered to pay twenty thousand dollars to the American federal government for all the time and money her shenanigans had wasted (to that point). This of course played right into her and the Birthers conspiracy narrative and they’ve cranked up the noise even louder since. While this all goes on, championed by the likes of FOX News and Rush Limbaugh, mainstream American conservatives quietly but approvingly look the other way with a smile on their face. It’s also important to remember for later, this whole fiasco unfolded with complete and absolute acknowledgement that Obama’s mother was indeed an American citizen when he was born. Whether you like Obama or not, you have to admit that what he’s been subject to on this front, something a white politician would never have to endure, is beyond ludicrous.

So given all that, when Cruz made his formal announcement to the world in front of an auditorium of mostly uninterested college students (a group wearing Rand Paul t-shirts were caught on camera a number of times) you’d expect an equally loud outcry of alarm from Taitz, Trump, the Birthers and the Tea Party. Except the only noise coming from those corners so far is crickets.   There has been some token commentary made about Cruz’s citizenship (Trump has said it may pose a problem for Cruz’s nomination, but little else) while others have meekly offered that since Cruz Sr. was an American citizen when Cruz Jr. was born, that technically makes the Senator an American born citizen and eligible for the office. Except you’ll remember that nobody questioned that Obama’s mother’s American citizenship when she gave birth to him, so even if he had been born in Kenya (which he wasn’t), all of the nonsense that he isn’t allowed to be President is wrong according to the logic people are using to defend Cruz. It’s logic Cruz himself has used to defend his eligibility, but yet in 2012 he said such criteria, criteria identical to his own credentials, wasn’t enough for Obama. Apparently his logic only applies to conservative white guys.

And that’s what this all boils down to: simple racism. It’s never been a secret that the Tea Party is an unapologetically racist movement and Orly Taitz and the Birthers are merely reflections of that reality. But the far right’s defence of Cruz, who is guilty of the exact same crime they believe Obama is, while vilifying the first American President of colour, betrays the fact that much of what passes for conservatism in the Unites States right now has an ugly current of racism just beneath the surface. I’m not saying all American conservatives are racist, but you have to wonder why no prominent voices on the American right has called out the Birthers on their obvious stupidity while in less then forty-eight hours after Cruz announced his candidacy more then a few came to the Texan Senator’s defence. When I was in high school we described that as things that made us go hmmmmmmmmm . . . . . . .

Does Cruz have a chance? Who knows? Since his formal announcement he’s jumped to the head of the Republican hopeful class in recent polls, but how those numbers look a year from now as things are reaching their conclusion is anyone’s guess. In fact his Senate election nearly four years ago was described by some pundits as the biggest upset that election cycle. During his time in office he’s gone out of his way to alienate other Republicans (New York representative Peter King has already said Cruz is more carnival barker then Presidential material), the only thing of substance that he’s accomplished was to spearhead (and then cheerlead) a twenty-one day shutdown of the American government to (unsuccessfully) kill Obamacare (which he recently signed up for, raising more then a few eyebrows) and his announcement was met by just as much mockery as it was celebration. And yet all of that may also serve to galvanize his base behind him entering primary season, as what remains of the Tea Party embraces the “rogue” image he’s fashioned for himself. But one thing is for sure; Republican spin-doctors are going to be busy trying to deflate the racist double standard and hypocrisy over the next year or so, political pundits have an entire mine of new material to write about and comedians the world over just won the lottery.

Shayne Kempton


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