For individuals who are regular consumers of the news, it is no surprise to hear that Donald Trump and many on the radical right are seriously attacking not just the concept of democracy but the institutions that are designed to protect and promote it as well. Examples have been in the news for several years at least.
At the local level, people in the Jackson area were able to witness it last year as the Mississippi Department of Education aired its proposals for new public school curriculum standards. During that public hearing, members of the radical right did not just rail against what they deemed as critical race theory. They also denounced the concept of democracy, saying that democracy really meant mob rule. Others on the radical right elsewhere express the same sentiment, opposing the mass participation of African Americans, Hispanic people, and other non-European Americans in the political process.
Such a feeling has long been prevalent, going back to the days of the writing of the Constitution itself. It has prominently reared its head in times such as the Civil War and Reconstruction, the rise of Nazism in Europe, and the spreading propaganda campaign of Senator Joe McCarthy. In more recent times, it has been witnessed in the January 6th attack on the Capitol and associated actions designed to keep Trump in the presidency.
Last week, however, we witnessed two more items that could raise the effort to a new level. One of the things was that former president Donald Trump publicly called for the suspension of the U.S. Constitution, in particular those parts of it that prevent him from being declared president. (That is what dictators do as they seek total control of countries. Even the people who originally supported them before their eyes were open can then do nothing to stop or change them.) The second thing that occurred was the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the arguments in the case of Moore vs. Harper, a case that advances the independent state legislature theory. Both of those things would do away with democracy as most Americans have come to know it.
The independent state legislature theory basically says that actions of the state legislature, including apportionment, voting rights and voting procedures, and other such matters that are public in nature, cannot be blocked, abridged, curtailed, or otherwise changed by state courts, by the people, by the state Constitution, the governor of the state, or the federal government. It is more extreme than would have been the case of the Confederate states during slavery. It is the kind of proposal that Trump supporters attempted to use to change the electoral votes during the 2020 presidential election. The citizens’ desires and votes would not matter. There would be no such thing as equal protection of the law. It would all boil down to what the majority party in each state legislature wanted. That would mean not only the end of individual or group rights and protections. It would mean the end of democracy and the end of a “united states” of America.
The only thing necessary for this dangerous, heretical idea to gain legitimacy is for the majority on the Supreme Court to side with the radical right proponents in North Carolina and elsewhere who brought the case to the court. It would play into the hands of the same type of people who wanted to be left alone to deal with enslaved people as they desired without interference from the federal government. It would play into the hands of the same type of people who would reject and/or mistreat others because they are recent immigrants, not of the same culture or religion, have different sexual preferences, and/or who happen to be of another racial/ethnic group.
The case is likely to be heard this coming spring. Those who have the expertise and/or organizational affiliations should make the effort to have amicus briefs submitted to the court expressing opposition to the idea.
While Trump spoke as an individual when he called for the suspension of the Constitution and the ignoring of those parts that have or may prevent him being declared president, we know that there are others who share his sentiment, and who would be willing to act violently to bring it to fruition. Most Republicans are unwilling to denounce his idea. It is ironic that he and those same Republican officials have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, which means that they are hypocritical at best or outright liars at worst. In either case, how can they be trusted to serve in office at any level?
Opposition to Trump’s idea of suspending the Constitution ought to be a litmus test for every office-holder and office-seeker. Each one should be highly publicized based upon where he/she stands on that matter. In the case of those who would suspend the Constitution, every effort should be made to eliminate them from office, prevent them from obtaining office, and to prosecute them for any attempts to violate the Constitution.
While we realize that America has not yet become the democracy of which we have dreamed, we must do the things that are necessary to enable it to reach that fruition. Chief among them is removing its enemies and supporting its friends as they are revealed to the public.
NEXT WEEK: COACH SANDERS’ EXIT