Birtherism is a [conspiracy theory]( that emerged in the United States during the 2008 presidential election campaign, questioning the legitimacy of then-candidate and later President [[Barack Obama]]'s birth certificate and his eligibility to serve as President. The theory centers around the false claim that Obama was not born in the United States, and therefore does not meet the [[Constitution]]al requirement of being a "natural-born citizen" to hold the office of the President. ## Origins of birtherism The origins of birtherism can be traced back to anonymous emails and online discussions that began circulating in the early stages of the 2008 election campaign. These messages alleged that Obama was born in Kenya, not in Hawaii as his official birth certificate indicated, and that his birth certificate was either falsified or non-existent. Despite the lack of any credible evidence supporting these claims, the conspiracy theory gained traction among certain segments of the population -- unsurprisingly, it was most popular among those who were politically opposed to Obama. In August 2008, the Obama campaign released a digital copy of his short-form birth certificate to counter the rumors. However, this only fueled the conspiracy further, with some critics questioning the authenticity of the document. In April 2011, in an effort to put the issue to rest, the White House released Obama's long-form birth certificate, which provided more detailed information about his birth in Honolulu, Hawaii. ## Trump and the birtherism conspiracy theory Several high-profile figures played a role in promoting the birther conspiracy theory, most notably [[Donald Trump]], who later became the 45th President of the United States. Trump began questioning Obama's birthplace in 2011, and was one of the most high-profile proponents of the birther movement. He used various media platforms, including television interviews and social media, to question the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate and demand its release. Trump's role in promoting birtherism helped elevate the conspiracy theory from a fringe idea to a more mainstream political discussion. Although Trump eventually acknowledged in 2016 that Obama was born in the United States, he never offered an apology or took responsibility for his role in promoting the conspiracy theory. Many critics argue that Trump's involvement with birtherism was an attempt to delegitimize the first African-American president and stoke racial tensions for political gain. ## Effects of birtherism on American politics The birther conspiracy theory had a lasting impact on American politics, contributing to a highly polarized political environment and fostering distrust and misinformation. It served to delegitimize President Obama in the eyes of some Americans and laid the groundwork for the rise of other conspiracy theories and the spread of [disinformation]( in the following years. Despite the release of Obama's long-form birth certificate and the debunking of the conspiracy theory by multiple credible sources, some individuals continue to cling to birtherism. It remains a symbol of the persistent and divisive nature of conspiracy theories in American politics, particularly in [right-wing]( circles.