In 2008, Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. That historic event sent shockwaves through the Republican Party, resulting in its being hijacked by the most radical elements of the party. In short, they lost their collective minds over the fact a Black man was now their Commander in Chief.
The ripples of this continue to darken the political landscape. It’s what ultimately led to the election of Donald Trump and the potential downfall of democracy in America. It sowed the seeds of the January 6th insurrection and threatens the future of our way of government.
Conspiracy theories have been around forever. From the JFK assassination to faking the moon landing, there have been crackpots who refuse to believe facts, and will grasp the tiniest bit of innuendo to launch into a tirade about one thing or another. In fact, many believe it was President Obama’s ribbing of Donald Trump at the 2011 annual White House Correspondent’s Dinner over Trump’s embracing certain conspiracy theories that led Trump to want to run for president.
Trump had already jumped on the bandwagon of the “birther” conspiracy. When he made his infamous golden escalator announcement, it was to spread the White supremacist replacement theory by creating the artificial “border crisis”.
And so it began. The lunatic fringe of the Republican Party had begun. While elements of this were present for decades, beginning with the 1964 Presidential Campaign of ultra-Conservative Barry Goldwater, they remained a minor influence that few spoke of in the darkest recesses of the party. With the ascendancy of Donald Trump, and the election to Congress of other members of what was once the Republican Party.
Just like the freeing of the slaves inspired the creation of the Ku Klux Klan, the election of Barack Obama led to the rise of Donald Trump. Preying on fear, ignorance and conspiracy theories, the Far Right tapped into the deepest recesses of racism, xenophobia and a distorted view of patriotism that continues to threaten our democracy.
There was no issue that the right could not provide “alternative facts”. When San Francisco 49er’s quarterback Colin Kapernick took to one knee during the playing of the National anthem to protest the treatment of minorities by members of law enforcement, the lunatic fringe twisted the narrative to being disrespectful of the American flag. They organized boycotts of the NFL, and Trump even called for those who protested in such a manner to be fired. They even added a religious element to this to appeal to Evangelicals by promoting the slogan “I kneel for the cross and stand for the flag”.
When the Black Lives Matter Movement took to the streets to protest the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other people of color, the right distorted the message as a movement to Defund the Police. This led to the elevation of Kyle Rittenhouse to heroic status as he shot and killed two BLM protesters while seriously wounding another.
The racist backlash following President Obama’s election, and re-election led directly to the events that resulted in the horrors of the Trump administration, including the January 6th insurrection. Without the Obama administration, it’s unlikely the lunatic fringe would have gained much traction. But, by feeding into the fears of White America, spreading the myth of Replacement Theory as well as distorting the influence of Critical Race Theory on public education, and twisting the narrative of Black Lives Matter, the Far Right continues to be a cancer on the democratic process. If they are allowed to continue to spread their lies, they will be sounding the death knell of democracy in America.
This madness needs to stop!