Conspiracy Theories and American Politics

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Yesterday, President Obama tried to dissuade Americans from getting distracted over whether he’s an American citizen. Then reality TV star and presidential hopeful Donald Trump quickly took credit for Obama’s move to release his long form birth certificate. Now Trump is flirting with the idea of prolonging the issue with concerns over the certificate’s authenticity and concerns over whether Obama should open up his academic records from his undergraduate work at Occidental College. Is the birther issue over?  And how do conspiracy theories like these become full blown political issues?

Is this just one event, in a long line of conspiracy theories, that have shaped our political history in America? Jerrold Post, director of the political psychology program at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, says there's a long tradition of this sort of political paranoia. He’s a clinical psychiatrist and co-author of the book “Political Paranoia: The Psycholopolitics of Hatred.”