The Fruitcake-Based Community.

A new poll shows that 52 percent of Republicans think ACORN stole the 2008 election for Obama.

I've written about voter fraud pretty extensively -- most Republicans don't know the difference between registration fraud, which is as easy as filling out a ballot application incorrectly, and voter fraud, which means actually casting a ballot. The conservative Ahabs at the Bush Justice Department spent years chasing that white whale and came up with bubkus. The latter is incredibly rare, and there isn't a single documented instance of ACORN anywhere, ever, stealing an election.

Nevertheless, like the idea that the Obama was born abroad, the myth of voter fraud persists -- only a minority of Republicans believe the president was born in the United States.

These issues are ultimately connected -- the segment of the Republican base that imagines itself as "real" Americans finds it incomprehensible that they, and their agenda, could be rejected by a majority of voters. We saw a little bit of this denial from conservative pundits insisting America is a "center-right" country immediately after the election. But for a certain group of Republicans the 2008 election caused a sense of rejection that has fermented into derangement, which is why the weepy, manic Glenn Beck has now become the right's primary ideological voice. It's why so much of that emotion is focused on a time -- right after 9/11--that people were so fearful of terrorism that the right had overwhelming political support.

The 2008 electorate was the most diverse ever--for some people, that is disenfranchisement by definition, since that means America is being increasingly populated by people who aren't "real Americans." Even if ACORN didn't steal the election, those people did, and so whether ACORN literally stole the election matters about as much as literal "death panels". It's "true enough." Hoffman workers in NY-23 mistook one of their own African-American volunteers for a member of ACORN, which wasn't even active in the district.

None of this new far right mythology actually has to make sense. As long as the frayed pieces of the puzzle can be assembled in a manner that allows this part of the right to preserve in their minds the idea that they are the authentic representation of what it means to be American, any explanation will do.

-- A. Serwer

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