It is impossible to know if
It only starts with the kind of campaign Romney has run. He and his "super PAC" allies used a mountain of dollars to produce unending waves of attack ads that swamped the messages of his Republican primary rivals, Newt Gingrich and
Of course, disgustingly misleading attack ads have become ubiquitous at all levels of politics this year. Whether Romney wins or loses, that is unlikely to change. Still, seeing a campaign for president propelled to victory on so many outright falsehoods cannot be good for the republic.
That would be the lesser of the ill effects of a Romney win, though. Much worse is that the right wing's broader onslaught of derision and lies against the president that began even before he took office would have achieved its goal. Barack Obama may, or may not, deserve reelection. But no man with as much decency as Obama exhibits in both his private and public life deserves the contempt that has been dumped on him by arch-conservative ideologues, talk show ranters and Internet goons.
Obama's birthplace, his paternity, his religion, his academic attainments, his citizenship and his loyalty to the country have all been called into question by people who feel no moral qualms about spreading fabrications and untruths. Any unfair tactic, any lie is justified in order to "take back America" from someone they refuse to accept as a legitimate president, despite the indisputable reality that he was elected by a majority of American voters in a near-landslide of electoral votes.
It is a false equivalence to say the left has been guilty of similar smears during the administrations of Republican presidents. In those past instances, all but a few Democratic elected officials shunned such slanders. The same was true for all but the most rabid liberal commentators. But most of today's Republican leaders stay silent in the face of the lies and many eagerly repeat them, while leading conservative pundits give the endless falsehoods credence, not an honest critique.
The right wing’s eagerness to engage in deceit has distorted credible conservatism and corrupted political discourse. It has turned the