2023: America’s democracy in crisis

Hip-hop turned 50 this year – ‘never thought hip hop would make it this far.’ 

Hip-hop’s 50th was probably the highlight of 2023, everything else seemed a low light reminding us how fragile our democracy is.

Last year, the demise of Roe v. Wade, sent shock waves. In 2023, Brittany Watts is charged with a felony in Ohio after a miscarriage and Kate Cox is denied a medical abortion by the Texas Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed affirmative action in higher education led by conservative activist, Edward J. Blum, based on reverse discrimination. 

Blum has since spearheaded a lawsuit against the Fearless Fund that supports businesses by Black women.

Only 1.2% of venture capital is funding Black entrepreneurs, with Black women founders receiving just 0.27% of funding. Yet, Blum has decided to target Black women.

2023 laid bare the myth of America being post-racial as civil rights and voting rights advances have been targeted as conservatives use “anti-wokeness” as a dog whistle for fear mongering. 

As we head into 2024, democracy in America is in crisis as fascism and talk of dictatorship fail to sound an alarm.

Anti-wokeness and relative deprivation

A Wall Street Journal column tried to link the downfall of Silicon Valley Bank to diversity efforts and “wokeness.” 

The theory of relative deprivation suggests modernization enhances racial or ethnic conflict when it isn’t even-handedly distributed and minority groups benefit at a slower rate. Simply put, no matter how the economy grows, the already disadvantaged group will always have a disparity in income (i.e. racial wealth gap). 

The conflict is compounded when the majority stoke a projected fear of extinction for groups that have traditionally held the power structure. 

Currently, white Americans are 64% of the population and hold 80% of America’s wealth. By 2045, America will be 49.7% white, but they will still control most of the wealth and economic power. 

Under the relative deprivation theory, you would expect minorities in the US to be in the streets demanding justice. Instead, the group claiming disenfranchisement are actually the ones in power, stoking a fear of extinction to spread their narrative against wokeness.

Whenever Black, indigenous and marginalized groups request civil rights, liberties, and equality, fear mongers stoke the fire claiming other people are taking jobs  – creating a fear of extinction. 

Political theorists have acknowledged that a projected fear of extinction is a highly mobilizing and dangerous force for ethnic and racial conflict. That is what is happening in America. 

A majority who control economics, wealth, and systems of governance are stoking fear that historically disenfranchised and marginalized groups are taking something from them and using wokeness, critical race theory, and affirmative action as dog whistles to spread the  false narrative. 

Ironically, the people using “wokeness” as a dog whistle to stir up fear are the same ones that peddled the narrative that Jan 6th was a peaceful demonstration.

Woke is understanding that the history taught in public schools still teaches indigenous Americans were savages and Black people are not of the same intellectual intelligence as white people. 

The dog whistlers fight to keep Confederate statues while spreading a false narrative that slavery taught slaves skills. Africans brought to the Americas during the slave trade were already skilled artisans, scholars, herdsmen, and farmers in rice cultivation, millet, sorghum, coffee, okra, watermelon – native to Africa.

However, truth and facts are of little consequence for fear mongers.

Fascism and dictatorship in the US

Fascism and dictatorship in the United States of America is not far-fetched.

January 6, 2021 was the first time in my lifetime American democracy was under threat from within when people seeking a civil war to overturn an election stormed the US Capitol destroying property and defecating on national monuments.

“A Republican regime embracing a philosophy that lacks political integrity or intellectual honesty would prove equally disastrous to this nation,” Republican Senator Margaret Chase Smith said in her Declaration of Conscience speech in 1950 against McCarthyism. “I do not want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny — Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear. I don’t believe the American people will uphold any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest. Surely we Republicans aren’t that desperate for victory.”

Desperation chokes the air as six Republican presidential candidates said they would support Trump as the party’s 2024 nominee even if he was convicted. 

Trump has said that he’d only be a dictator for a day if re-elected. In 2016 while campaigning, Trump said that he could kill someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose voters – 2023 has proven this true. 

“The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact,” Vice President Henry Wallace said in 1944. “They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest.”

Ronda Lee
Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Ronda is an attorney, writer, and entrepreneur. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. Originally from Chicago, she has lived in Los Angeles and New York. She loves to travel and is passionate about education equity, especially for first generation college students.