today in black history

April 18, 2024

Hampton University (Institute) was founded on this date in 1868 in Virginia to educate newly emancipated Blacks.

Not Above the Law

POSTED: September 08, 2022, 9:30 pm

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MAGA Republicans pose a grave threat to America's democratic institutions

While watching the congressional Watergate hearings in my high school history class, my teacher emphasized the importance of the proceedings as an example that in the United States “no one was above the law.” I remember her stressing that despite the flaws of our nation, the one thing the Founders never intended was for an imperial presidency. She made the point that Richard Nixon, despite being elected by a popular vote landslide, had to be held accountable for any crimes he may have committed and the betrayal of his constitutional oath of office. I could have never imagined that in my lifetime this issue would be revisited, with even higher stakes and consequences for the country.

After Watergate, there was a sense that the country would never encounter another moment of executive abuse and overreach. Yet here we are. A former president is now in the crosshairs of the Department of Justice and facing a possible obstruction of justice charge for illegally holding sensitive documents that should have been deposited with the National Archives. With each day of the news cycle, it is apparent this was no innocent oversight on the part of Trump and his enablers. The timeline of communications between Trump and the Department of Justice shows multiple attempts by the DoJ to secure documents that should have gone to the National Archives, and multiple lies and excuses by the former president concerning the documents’ return. To the point that one of Trump’s lawyers may be facing charges for falsely attesting that all documents had been returned. Among the documents were those with the most sensitive security designation.

This is a pattern that is a trademark of Trumpism, the belief that the altar of Trump requires no submission to the law or the truth. We witness this in the behavior of Rudy Giuliani, a former mayor of the nation’s largest city, whose behavior in espousing the ‘stolen election’ lie has been so egregious his law license has been suspended and he could face permanent disbarment. This behavior is also evident in the likes of Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who both believe they should be exempt from testifying before a Fulton County Grand Jury examining election tampering in the 2020 presidential election. There is no greater practitioner of this alternate reality than Donald Trump himself, who just days ago insisted he should be installed as President of the United States, or a new election should be called. Supporters of Trump have embraced this alternate reality with cult-like fervor, and now some 800 insurrectionists have been charged for their actions during the January 6, 2021 riot at the United States Capitol. The root of fascism is the dismissal of truth with lies and a narrative aimed at securing power through demonization and hate.

After the Watergate debacle, it was thought that new laws regarding campaign finance and the protection of presidential records would safeguard America from another incident of presidential excess. Not so. Our campaign finance law has been shredded by the Supreme Court’s shameful ruling in Citizens United that opened the floodgates for monied interests to influence electoral outcomes. Now, the Presidential Records Act is being trampled upon by a former president who refuses to accept the legitimate outcome of an election in which he was soundly defeated. Donald Trump is so consumed with resentment in this Trumpian alternate reality that he continues to use the presidential seal though the authority associated with that seal ceased to be his in November 2020.

“We are confronting a system of governance infested by individuals who embrace White supremacy and are fundamentally opposed to the idea of racial equality and view Black and brown people as inferior.”

The ability to rapidly sow lies through social media enables Trump and his MAGA Republican allies to create confusion among the electorate and inspire followers to commit violent acts in the name of supporting ‘truth’ that is in fact a lie. True believers cling to these falsehoods as gospel and any refutation, through data, is considered part of a liberal conspiracy pushed by the ‘deep state.’ What we are encountering is not a political faction, MAGA Republicans are a cult and Donald Trump is their Rev. Jim Jones. Much like the followers of the deranged Jones, MAGA Republicans willfully drink the poisoned Kook-Aid as an act of submission and see Trump as some sort of Christian deity.

What needs to be recognized at this moment is that we would be mistaken to label MAGA Republicans as some ignorant group of poor, White modern-day facsimile of the Ku Klux Klan. This is the White Citizens Council redux. MAGA Republicans are judges, state legislators, governors, law enforcement officers, members of the military and Congress. We are confronting a system of governance infested by individuals who embrace White supremacy and are fundamentally opposed to the idea of racial equality and view Black and brown people as inferior. The MAGA Republican movement is a campaign to restore the original intent of the United States Constitution as a document that consigns Black people as 3/5th of a human and having no rights which a White person must respect.

We are at a moment that is bigger than one individual – Donald Trump. We are confronted by a reactionary movement fueled by racial resentment and hatred that is intent on preserving White majority rule through any means necessary – lies, lawbreaking and violence.

Walter Fields is Executive Editor of

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