The Movement to Dethrone Democracy: An Idea Capitalized Upon, But Not Created By Trump

It’s time to Break It Down!

On Tuesday of last week, the New York Times (NYT) published a David Leonhardt opinion asserting that the Anti-Democracy Movement is bigger than Donald Trump. Indeed, he points out that on February 24, 2016, someone registered the website Mr. Leonhardt suggests it may have been Roger Stone, who in 2016 was advising Trump’s campaign, and appears to have coined the now infamous phrase, “Stop the Steal.” Indeed, the time frame was during Trump’s primary campaign, and four years before Trump would get around to accusing Joe Biden of election fraud.

As it were, when the phrase was concocted, it wasn’t aimed at a Democrat at all. Rather, the target individual was Ted Cruz, who, at the time, happened to be Trump’s closest competitor for the Republican nomination. After Cruz defeated the field, winning the Colorado caucuses in April 2016, hundreds of Trump supporters gathered in Denver, at the State Capitol and chanted, “Stop the Steal.” Contemporaneously, the website posted baseless allegations claiming fraud in other states.

This quick history note is lifted from Charles Homans’s latest revelatory story, recently published by the Times Magazine. It focuses on the anti-democracy movement within the Republican Party, and makes as a central point, that the movement to create doubt about elections is both older than many people realize, and larger than Donald Trump.

Mr. Homans writes, “What is striking about the movement around the supposed theft of the 2020 election, is how much of it — the ideas, and rhetoric, even the people involved in it — predate Trump’s presidency, and in some cases, even his candidacy.” Moreover, as the movement continues today, it is based less on the narrow goal of restoring Trump to power, although there is still an element of that, and more on a missionary zeal to put rightwing candidates in office. This, of course, is accompanied by the ancillary benefit of install right wing judges and associated political operatives.

GOP candidates running campaigns this year, including the Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania and the nominees for secretary of state (the job overseeing elections) in several other states, do not talk about Trump so often. Conversely, they cast themselves as part of a larger crusade to preserve traditional American, Christian, and conservative values. As Humans expounds, they “see themselves as an American people distinct from the American population — a people whose particular loyalties, identities, and values designated them as the true inheritors of the nation, regardless of what the ballots might have said.

On White Nationalism

Mr. Homans and Mr. Leonhardt spent some time discussing why this anti-democratic movement has become such a dominant force within the Republican Party now. Conspiracy theories have a long and significant history in American politics. But they have traditionally remained on the fringes, of both the right and the left. For example, the John Birch Society of the mid-20th century spread some of the same/similar ideas as today’s right-wing conspiracists. yet few Birchers won statewide or federal office.

What has changed? While there is no single answer, there are a few plausible explanations.

One is that many conservatives — especially White conservatives — feel more threatened than in past decades. They worry they are part of a fading minority. Mr. Homans documents the Stop the Steal movement has strong roots in the Tea Party movement, which began early in Barack Obama’s presidency, and frequently portrayed him as illegitimate and un-American.

President Obama, becoming the first Black president, was a clear sign that the country had become more racially diverse, and seemed destined to become even more so. It also happened as the country was questioning traditional ideas gender and sexuality, and becoming more secular, with religious observance declining.

Mr. Homans interviewed a supporter of Doug Mastriano, the GOP nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, after a rally and asked her what she expected if Mastriano won. “I see him stepping in and going back to the Constitution — putting God back in things. He’s about bringing everything back. Everything back.”

Still, this racial and cultural reactionary response is almost certainly not the full story. After all, the U.S. has experienced more intense periods of debate over racial and gender issues — like in the 1960’s — without giving rise to a large anti-democracy movement. Today, several other factors also seem to be in play.

Four more reasons

One is the underlying level of frustration among Americans after decades of slow-growing living standards for most people. A financial crisis, which began shortly before Obama’s election, and the slow recovery from it exacerbated the dissatisfaction.

The pandemic, undoubtedly, is a mother factor. COVID-19 disrupted daily life and caused a further deterioration in many measures of physical and mental health, fostering a sense that society is coming apart.

A tertiary factor is contemporary media. Falsehoods can spread more quickly and be repeated more frequently, via the internet, than for example, the Birchers’ claim that Dwight Eisenhower was a secret communist. Simultaneously, Fox News broadcasts conspiracies to millions of viewers.

Finally, even though Trump’s role may be exaggerated, it is often central. In the past, national leaders tended to reject the conspiracies; in 2008, John McCain famously corrected on of his own supporters who called Obama an Arab. Trump, by contrast, not only pushed the birther conspiracy during Obama’s presidency, but he also declined to push back against his supporters employing it, even though he was forced to make an admission in the 11th hour of his 2016 campaign, that President Obama was American. Furthermore, Mr. Trump proved lies as no other modern U.S. politician has, making them acceptable to people who otherwise might have rejected them. After he ascended to the presidency, using the tactic, many other GOP politicians opted to echo his strategy, or at the very least, refused to denounce him.

That’s the story of how the anti-democracy movement moved to the center of the Grand Old Party. For now, it still revolves around Trump. Sadly, by all appearances, it has the potential to outlast him. “The Movement to Dethrone Democracy: An Idea Capitalized Upon, But Not Created By Trump!”

I’m done; holla back!

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The Q’s Are Coming: Welcome Omega Men

It’s time to Break It Down!

Those Who Read My Blog Already Know…I’m a PK, a Christian, a pro-Black advocate, a center-left Democrat, a daily exerciser, a Kinston native, a Charlotte transplant, a Bronco, a Tar Heel, a Hornets’ fan, a Panthers’ fan (home team forever), a Lakers’ fan, a  Dodgers’ fan, a devotee of whatever basketball team on which Andrew Wiggins plays, an HBCU supporter, an adherent of annual physicals, a believer in science & the efficacy of vaccines, a proponent of diversity and inclusion, a weekly blogger, and…an Alpha!

It is as a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., that I join General President, Dr. Willis L. Lonzer, III, the Beta Nu Lambda and Charlotte area Chapters, and Alpha men everywhere, in extending a cordial welcome to Charlotte, to the men of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and their guests, who are about to visit Charlotte to conduct the business of their 83rd Grand Conclave.

For the uninitiated, pun intended, Alpha Phi Alpha and Omega Psi Phi are historically African American fraternities. Both are members of a collaborative umbrella entity known as the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), composed of seven other organizations, three fraternities, and four sororities, also of African American historical lineage. For anyone who may not know, Omegas are often familiarly called Q’s, as an homage to the letter Q, because of the similarity between the Greek Letter Omega (Ω) and the English Alphabet Q. Together, the nine organizations are collectively, informally, called the “Divine Nine (D9). Eight of the organizations were established during the first quarter of the 20th century; the final current member was founded in 1963. To see the names of the entire D9, and the order/year of their founding, including the NPHC, see the links below.

When the organizations convene in large meetings (National/International, Regional, or State/District), the convening organization hosts a public forum, at which members from the community, and other Pan-Hellenic Council member organizations are invited. The membership of these organizations is composed of some of the finest minds and most influential citizens in America and abroad, and they have been for more than a hundred years.  

Enjoy the warm hospitality and generous spirit of our city. Charlotte is honored to be your host. ‘06!…”The Q’s Are Coming: Welcome Omega Men!”

I’m done. Holla back!

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That’s What Ails Us Now

It’s time to Break It Down!

COVID-19 developed into a genuinely serious matter circa March 2020. It was during the month of March when the NBA shut down its Regular Season, the NCAA canceled its Basketball Tournaments, and restaurants, schools & colleges, churches, and a host of other establishments either shut down, or greatly curtailed their services and accessibility. As far as we could tell, life as we knew it, forever changed. Troopers that we Americans are, we marched on, figuring out our latest new normal. But wait; roughly 10 months later, just when most Americans thought things wouldn’t or couldn’t get much worse, along came the events of January 6, 2021, for all practical purposes saying something akin to, “Hold my beer!”

So here we are, almost two and a half years after COVID grabbed us by the neck, literally choking the life out of over a million of our fellow Americans, and over a year and a half since an insurrection kicked us in democracy’s gonads, with the unfolding of a violent uprising in and around the U.S. Capitol, symbolic Citadel of our nation’s government. Perhaps the most spiritually debilitating aspect of these two impositions upon our way of life is, neither has been vanquished. Americans are still contracting cases of, and in too many instances, dying from COVID. And yes, we are also reminded daily of the lingering consequences of what many argue was a straight up coup attempt.

We continue to be confronted by new variants of COVID. The most recent strain is Omicron BA.5. Just know, COVID is still with us. Some experts say it will be like the flu, with new variations springing up in perpetuity. I do not know whether that’s true. I do know…it’s still here. Conduct yourselves accordingly.

As for the insurrection, the House January 6 Select Committee continues its work. The committee conducted its seventh day of hearings yesterday. The focus was on zeroing in on the connection between Mr. Trump and extremist groups. The committee showed that the former president and his allies interacted with these violent groups and provided evidence that some rally organizers even expressed concern about the event, and the people gathering in Washington.

The panel listened to live testimony from a former spokesperson for the Oath Keepers, and another person who participated in the riot, in addition to showing clips of the deposition of former White House counsel Pat Cipollone. The committee cannot bring charges against Mr. Trump. However, its principal mission has been to uncover the full scope of his attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power, and to connect his actions to the violence at the Capitol. The Justice Department (JD) is the ultimate arbiter of whether to bring criminal charges.

This is where I do as I often have, and express supreme skepticism regarding whether any charges will be leveled against Mr. Trump. To be clear, not because I believe charges are not warranted, but due to the convolution and complexity involved with navigating such charges in an environment in which the prospective defendant might also be a major political party’s nominee for President, and as such, the chief political rival of the President…or whomever becomes the other major party’s nominee. In addition to skeptical I’m also cynical. I believe that is the number one reason why Mr. Trump wants to be his party’s standard bearer, and of course, President, again. It’s difficult to imagine a greater incentive than keeping his name off the police blotter, and his rear end out of the hoosegow.

Perhaps the two pending items garnering the most attention surrounding the committee’s work, now, are:

First, Vice Chair Cheney noted near the end of the hearing that the panel had forwarded information to the JD regarding a yet to appear witness whom Mr. Trump had attempted to contact, prior to providing their testimony. The individual, reportedly, did not take Mr. Trump’s call, but had their attorney contacted the committee, which in turn, referred that info to the JD.

Second, Steve Bannon, who initially spurned an invitation, and subsequently a subpoena, to testify before the committee, earning a contempt of Congress citation, and an ensuing court appearance, has recently changed his tack, and volunteered to testify…in a public hearing. Other witnesses have testified first in private hearings before their public testimony. It is certain that Bannon hopes to explode and create chaos in the process and change the focus by sidestepping the private hearing, and launching, on air, into the kind of diatribe that is his stock and trade. It remains to be seen whether the committee will put the rabbit in the briar patch. Of course, a morose Trump, utterly frustrated that no one is defending him at these hearings aided in facilitating Bannon’s changed tune by giving him a letter, ostensibly releasing him to vigorously defend himself. It takes very little insight to understand that Bannon’s main, if not only, role will be to defend Mr. Trump, loudly and passionately. It’s a good deal if they can get it. Touché! “That’s What Ails Us Now!”

I’m done. Holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

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July 4th In Black & White

It’s time to Break It Down!

Monday was a holiday. Typically, during holiday weeks, I recycle a redux version of a previous post. Not today. Like Dré, I had something to say. Something I needed to say, and something you needed to know. Carry on.

Not every great dilemma is destined to be distilled and viewed through the prism of race. Let’s be clear, however, race, despite being merely a social construct, was literally invented to keep the Black man down. And for ages, across the world, it’s done a hellava job.

Gomes Eanes de Zurara, a Portuguese chronicler of the European Age of Discovery, a lesser light whom most non-historians probably never heard of, pretty much single-handedly composed the lie that effectively invented racism. He was commissioned by Alfonso V, King of Portugal to compose a glowing biography of the African adventures of his beloved uncle, Prince Henry the Navigator. Zurara completed the Chronicles of the Discovery and Conquest of Guinea in 1453, a book in which he described all the various people of the myriad countries in Africa as a distinct group, beastly and inferior. This was the first European book written about Africa. Of course, in direct contrast to Zurara’s slander, some of the most sophisticated cultures of the time resided on the African Continent. Not coincidentally, despite serious fakery, the Portuguese were contemporaneously pioneering the North Atlantic slave trade. They were the first to do it, so to speak. It became immediately convenient to have a justifying narrative to assert the inferiority of African people to the church, to other people, and notably, to themselves. With the stroke of a pen, Zurara invented both Blackness and Whiteness…because Blackness alone would have served no purpose without Whiteness. So let it be known, racism did not start based on some misunderstanding between groups, or cultures. It started based on a lie; one that has been perpetuated for over five and a half centuries.

In 1903, W. E. B. Du Bois prophetically foretold: “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.” It is a well-known sentence that is rarely quoted completely. Du Bois goes on to describe the color line as “the question of how far differences of race . . . will hereafter be made the basis of denying to over half the world the right of sharing to their utmost ability the opportunities and privileges of modern civilization.” In The Souls of Black Folk, he says it is “the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea” and says, “It was a phase of this problem that caused the Civil War.”

There is no denying Dr. Du Bois’ prescience. After all, here we are, nearly 120 years later, and the problem of the color line is still front and center. Fast forward more than 110 years after Du Bois’ pronouncement, to the summer of 2016, and the first Issue of OTHERING & BELONGING EXPANDING THE CIRCLE OF HUMAN CONCERN, in which john a. powell and Stephen Menendian wrote: “The problem of the twenty-first century is the problem of “othering.” In a world beset by seemingly intractable and overwhelming challenges, virtually every global, national, and regional conflict is wrapped within or organized around one or more dimension of group-based difference. Othering undergirds territorial disputes, sectarian violence, military conflict, the spread of disease, hunger, and food insecurity, and even climate change.

Clearly, powell and Menendian expanded the dimensions of the debate to include a host of additional variables, including people and issues. For the purposes of this post, I will continue to highlight race and the American condition. Although the enlarged conversation warrants further discourse, I’ll have to revisit that at another time.

For now, just know this. On June 27, 2022, 25-year-old Jayland Walker was involved in a traffic stop in Akron, Ohio that after his fleeing, devolved into the final encounter of his life. News accounts report that he was shot by police, as many as 60 times. On July 4, 2022, 21-year-old Robert Crimo was involved in a traffic stop in North Chicago, that after his fleeing resulted in him being detained and arrested. Some might consider it important to note that Crimo is the lone person of interest/suspect in a mass shooting that resulted in killing 7 people and wounding dozens more during an Independence Day Parade in Highland Park. Consider it noted.

Yes, Walker is Black; Crimo is White. Yes, there have been many instances with comparable circumstances, and similar results. This is America! For all its alleged greatness, there is still a lot to work on, particularly when it comes to race, and as Du Bois framed it, the problem of the color line.

Unless we, here in America, gird our proverbial loins, and commit ourselves to confronting, deconstructing, and neutering this behemoth of a problem, we are assured of staying mired in the quicksand of America’s original sin.

Anti-CRT advocates and folks who claim to adhere to constitutional originalism fail to acknowledge and appropriately address the Constitution’s odious double malady, first of ignoring Black people, then secondly, of relegating us to 3/5 status. In short, the United States was founded by men who owned slaves, and who did not extend equal rights to women. We can, and in fact, we should, stop pretending all the documents they wrote were infallible. Oh, by the way, to celebrate July 4, 1776 and simultaneously ignore January 6, 2021 is the epitome of hypocrisy. Full stop.

Slavery, like it or not, is an irreducible fact, not some throwaway guest worker clause, or involuntary relocation plan (both euphemisms that are actively applied today), and it is an indelible black, no pun intended, mark on the ego-inspired notion of “American Exceptionalism.” George (no, not Washington) Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Contemporary America asks all of us to take the “blue pill,” and forget how we got here. The best and most compelling counterpoint to that ill-conceived plea is that there is a cadre of Americans who are never going to permit that to happen. We are here, America is our home, and we are not going anywhere. You can forget about those go back to Africa, or Mexico, or India, or China, or Japan, or fill-in-the-blank Muslim country jeers and sneers. We are here, and what’s more important, we don’t just sing America, We Are America…Oh Say Can You See Us…now. That dear friends and family, is “July 4th In Black & White!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right-hand corner of my Home Page at; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

For more detailed information on a variety of aspects related to this post, consult the links below: