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The Obama "Birther" Conspiracy Theory

Updated on October 13, 2012
Bottom bumper sticker: Birther bumper sticker.
Bottom bumper sticker: Birther bumper sticker. | Source

What is the “Birther” Conspiracy Theory?

A Birther is someone who believes in the Birther conspiracy theory. This theory states that President Obama was not born in the United States, that there is no birth certificate for Obama, and other related claims relating to his birth. These claims have led people to file lawsuits in efforts to try to get Obama disqualified from running for president, being sworn in, and possibly trying to get him removed on a constitutional basis.

Origins of the Birther Conspiracy Theory

Around the time of the Democratic Party's 2008 primaries rumors started flying about Obama's birth certificate, birth place, and religion. Soon these rumors grew from many sides - people who wanted Clinton to get ahead in the primaries and of course people outside the Democratic party decided would take anything they could get, and this seemed a good start for them.

Public domain image of President Obama's birth certificate.
Public domain image of President Obama's birth certificate. | Source

Obama's Rebuttal

As seen on the right Obama's Birth Certificate was released to the public. In 2008 this short form document was released and later in 2011 a long form birth certificate was posted on the White House website. Further proof has come out about Obama's birth in Hawaii ranging from his father's immigration file stating President Obama was born in Hawaii to people who claim witnessing his birth in Hawaii.

Long form document in response to continued claims the short form document was fake.
Long form document in response to continued claims the short form document was fake. | Source

Natural Born Citizenship and the Law

There are more ways that Obama could be attacked on this issue which could actually lead to actual discussions about ineligibility rather than arguing with clear proof. Some of these arguments pertain parental citizenship and dual citizenship.

Some have argued that for a person to be a natural born citizen both parents would need to be U.S. Citizens at the time of the child's birth. This could be considered a legitimate point because Obama's father was not a U.S. Citizen at the time of his birth. The last time this was brought up was in 1875 (Minor v. Happersett) where they defined a natural born citizen as “all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens”. Would the court hold up a 137 year old law? Probably not, but at least the argument has a legal basis rather than denial of evidence.

What could Obama's citizenship be? If Obama's father was Kenyan and Mother was American then he has a dual citizenship right? This is the argument that some have come forward with: you cannot be a natural born citizen if you are born a dual citizen. This has mostly been dropped because Obama lost his citizenship with Kenya as Kenya does not allow adult dual citizenship along with the problem with Kenya gaining independence from Britain in 63 when Obama was born in 61, leading to questions of “British or Kenyan?” and a lot of messy legalities that people have not been willing to go into.

Is It Over Yet?

Unfortunately there are still claims that these documents are false. Many other conspiracy theories have been made to explain what the documents really are ranging from photoshop to presidential orders for a printing. With the election in 2012 there are still a few demanding proof of birth or for the President to step down. A poll recently indicated 13% of voters questioned Obama's birth. Who knows, if Obama is elected there may be four more years of birther claims that he was born outside the US.


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    • Danieljohnston profile image

      Daniel Johnston 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      I think I know what book you are talking about Mazzy, and that was a forward written by an editor that was trying to give a history about Obama. The editor said that it was her mistake and she didn't research well enough. Really just a bad coincidence that it would become a problem later.

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image

      Mazzy Bolero 5 years ago from the U.K.

      I read something about a book he wrote when he was young which said he was born in Kenya in the forward or blurb. They have since said this was an error. It seems to me the rule about a President having to be born in the U.S. exists to ensure there is no split loyalty. I don't think this applies to Obama. He was raised by his mother and grandmother, who were both American and were not Muslims. I think trying to defeat him on a technicality is a bit desperate.

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      I had no idea they had a name for the conspiracy theorists "birthers", interesting indeed. I also was unaware that he had released this doc back in 2008. Some major icons have come out asking him to release this, amazing how politics works. I honestly don't follow too much, but I did find this hub interesting, Interesting, Up and shared.

    • Prakash Dighe profile image

      Prakash Dighe 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas, USA

      The Tea party and some of the Conservatives appear to in a state of denial - thus refusing to accept that Obama is born in the US, that he is not a Muslim, that he is not a Communist, that there is no global warming, or many of the scientifically proven facts, including Evolution.

    • followthestray profile image

      Samantha Harris 5 years ago from New York

      Voted up!!

    • tammybarnette profile image

      Tammy Barnette 5 years ago

      I don't understand, I have tried, I have listened to their views and I get that some are just hard core R's or just dislike Obama for whatever reason, but I don't understand why any I's would support him.

    • vveasey profile image

      The Medicine Man 5 years ago from Detroit,MI



    • vveasey profile image

      The Medicine Man 5 years ago from Detroit,MI


      I second that emotion!

      And Mitt proved especially during the so-called debate, that he will say any thing, no matter how contradictory to what he formerly said, to get elected.

      Why do you think that's not enough for many of his supporters to stop supporting him?

    • tammybarnette profile image

      Tammy Barnette 5 years ago

      The newest conspiracy, "the jobbers," actually spreading the news that Obama has been able to cook the books and the jobs report is a fake, LOL! They will say anything, and nobody should be surprised because the congress stood before God and everyone and said they would not work with him and would begin their campaign for 2012 on day one. They are a party of bullies,

    • Danieljohnston profile image

      Daniel Johnston 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      Heh. I was worried the first comment (and more) would be unhappy from someone who believes the theories. I was trying to be neutral, but its hard when there is a blatant disregard for facts ie "the papers were (photoshopped/bought/ordered/threatened/forged)"

      I would understand it if upon receiving proof they went to the other mentioned tactics of legal precedents for arguing natural born citizenship, but it makes the whole "movement" seem incredible. Luckily, the numbers are going down, and most people don't care anymore.

      Also it is sad to say it has been about race in some areas along with blind dislike for democrats.

    • vveasey profile image

      The Medicine Man 5 years ago from Detroit,MI


      But it's not just the birth certificate issue, that's just a part of greater issue of trying to deligitimize his presidency.

      They want to see his college transcripts, he didn't really deserve to be the president the harvard law review that was given to him, he's not smart enought to earn it on his own, he only got elected because he's black, he doesn't really understand America or our unique anglo-saxon heritage, he doesn't really understand American values, etc, etc ad naseum

      I think many of those who keep pushing these issues, dislike, extremely dislike, can't stand or hate the fact that for the first time in American history we have a black president. This is just too musch for them to accept and they're trying to do everything they can to bring it to an end

      I have a couple of hubs that harmonize with yours, here are the links to them