For any Black person who has lived in Mississippi through the heydays of segregation and Jim Crow, fear of the current political actions of the Republican Party is quite understandable. Since the party’s capture by former president Donald Trump, it has rapidly and consistently moved toward transforming America into a one-party state, with an intensifyingly white nationalist agenda.
It was one thing to hear mainstream media reports that Trump had ambitions to be an authoritarian. It is quite another thing to now learn the kinds of things that he did to advance such an idea. It was one thing to read warnings that white national terrorists were the greatest threat to American democracy. It is quite another to see such white terrorists attack Black Lives Matter protesters, attempt to kidnap the governor of Michigan, and storm the U.S. Capitol with the intent of preventing the transfer of power to the newly elected president and vice president or overthrowing the government.
In the waning days of the November 2020 presidential election, much of the media had supporters of democracy hyped with the idea that if Trump was defeated, he would soon be in jail. There were numerous crimes by Trump that had been cited not just by reporters, but also in the Mueller Report. Even officials as high as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held the belief that Trump would soon be jailed. That is a point that is worrisome today.
Why are the wheels of justice moving so slowly in New York, Georgia, the District of Columbia and the other localities where accusations have been made and evidence gathered against Trump? Is there fear of a backlash from Trump supporters, especially if he is not convicted? Will the prosecutors wait too long, enabling Trump to increase his support and eventually get off the hook? The longer Trump remains on the national scene, the less expectation and demand there seems to be to lock him up. It all enables him to gain stature – raising funds, speaking to crowds at rallies, cowering opposing Republican leaders, and even establishing his own media platform. The choice is to move swiftly and forthrightly or wait until things are most ideal.
The former president continues to spread the big lie that the election was stolen from him. This has resulted in the effort to get Republican-controlled states to pass laws to suppress the vote of non-whites and to try and arrange it so that those legislatures could reject or overturn election results that did not favor their candidates. Between voter suppression, election manipulation, and gerrymandering, the Republican Party would be able to control enough electoral college votes to capture and retain the presidency. The number of Supreme Court and other federal judges appointed by Trump, meanwhile, enables them to block significant changes via legislation and executive orders.
The phenomenon which is getting the most press these days is the Senate filibuster rule, which can prevent the Senate from passing laws to nullify state voter suppression and manipulation laws. By itself, the Senate filibuster rule is a real obstacle to preventing or disrupting the full-scale establishment of one-party, white nationalist rule. When the filibuster is taken in conjunction with the state laws and the Supreme Court shield, it is difficult to see exactly how to stop the runaway train.
Globally, one can realize that these pendulum swings from authoritarian to democratic and back can be observed in human history. Nationally, one can see the parallel between the push to disrupt/destroy Reconstruction in the late 1800s and the current conservative push. Racially, it has resonated throughout America’s history. On the one hand, America literally created the concepts of Black and white as categories of humans. On the other hand, its public pronouncements as a goal have vacillated between being a society that is open and welcoming to all comers and being a country that preserves and promotes the privileges and advantages of being white.
The debate over what it should become can be seen in legislative and executive documents, in court decisions, and in the actions of citizens and officials. To a large extent, this debate over the nature of the new country is what the Civil War was about.
The debate continues, creating a dilemma for many. There are many citizens who support the idea of America moving toward becoming more of a multiracial, multicultural democracy. At least in the media, that is where many Democrats stand; that is what the blue states represent. At the same time, a rising number of white citizens fear losing their privileged status as the country becomes less white. They are willing to back the one-party, autocratic, white nationalist push of Trump and his surrogates.
If, and when, one comes to understand the determination of the white nationalists following the Civil War, it is easy to see the extent to which similar white nationalists are willing to go today. It seems that they are willing to launch another civil war if they do not get their way. They were not punished for terrorism, murder, and treason back then and were thus emboldened and set up as patterns for today. Today’s true “Trumpers” are the same types that existed after the Civil War and that were out during the Civil Rights Movement. They are deadly serious now as they were during these earlier periods.
Whether the rest of the country realizes it or not, we may be headed for a civil war because of the determination of the white nationalist, anti-democratic promoters. That possibility is undergirded by the fact that so many white Americans are so attached to and dependent upon the privileges and advantages until they are willing to support the Trump agenda rather than true democracy. Yes, racism is that deeply rooted, furthering the dangerous dilemma – white privilege vs. racial equality. There is no question that the “Trumpers” seem to be accomplishing their destructive end before our very eyes. The question is whether the rest of the people would be willing to support the measures needed to put a halt to the installation of a one-party,white nationalist dictatorship? We do not mean to sound like an alarmist, but it is important to seriously ask, “Are we headed for a civil war over the matters of race and democracy?”