Two critical factors undergird the controversy around the 2020 Presidential election, the insurrection on January 6, 2022, and the coming elections of November 8, 2022, and November 5, 2024. First, the fear of the loss of white supremacy is the most dynamic factor influencing the rhetoric, demagoguery, and voter suppression efforts related to the coming election. Second, the victor in ’24 will be the party that most appeals to the psychological need of restoring a sense of white supremacy to working-class white males in particular.

The creation of the social construction of whiteness in the late 1600s by the power elite promised those designated as white a place at the top of the racial hierarchy in the United States, a place in which they would have no equals. Whiteness promised the hallmarks of American democracy -- freedom of speech, freedom of movement, and the opportunity to pursue what came to be called the American dream. An essential aspect of the promise of whiteness was its assurance of inequality to nonwhites in terms of advantage and access to social, political, and economic opportunities, and the rights of white supremacy or enforcement of white domination over non-whites in American society.

The greatest fear of many designated as white at this current time in America is once again, or still, the loss of white supremacy. The fear of replacement and displacement are dominant in the minds of many whites. Blacks elected to public office, especially to the office of the Presidency of the United States, unhinged historical fears of blacks “taking over America.”

In addition, changing demographics, “the browning of America,” has added another layer of anxiety and fear. The siege of the Capitol that occurred on January 6, 2021, was the accumulation of anger, resentment, anxiety, and a primitive fear that has festered for almost 60 years since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s in the States. This current insurrection was a warning of the intensity of these feelings.

The built-up rage of a hundred years ago carried much more destructive savagery, its fear, and anger reaching frightening proportions after World War I when black soldiers returning from fighting for democracy in Europe presented a psychological threat to white supremacy. This resulted in the Red Summer of 1919 when whites figured out that what they thought as the right to vote was sacred in the tenets of white supremacy as one that belongs only to whites. Blacks in the state of Florida violated a core tenant of white supremacy when they organized a campaign to ensure that blacks voted in the 1920 Presidential election for Republican candidate Warren G. Harding. Women had just been given the vote, and black women were crucial to the movement for all blacks to vote. Fear and anger seized white minds as voting was believed to be a right reserved only for whites. Voting would make blacks social equals. The KKK went through black communities warning them not to attempt to vote.

As a result, Tuesday, November 2, 1920, in Ocoee, Florida, has been the bloodiest election day in U.S. history. The fear of black rule and the loss of white supremacy resulted in a black man, July Perry, being lynched; at least fifty blacks in Ocoee, Florida, murdered; and racial cleansing and purging of the black population from the area for sixty years. The threat to white supremacy was neutralized by these murders. This shameful event in American history is the result of the obsessive fear of the loss of white supremacy. Why is it urgent that working-class white men believe that they have relevance and that their needs are being addressed? The most difficult and painful adjustments to the advancement of equalities for non-whites are experienced by working-class whites. Working class white men see themselves as the group most impacted by the “diminishing power of whiteness.

If social and political changes were not bad enough to threaten the sense of white superiority held by many white men, economic changes were the final straw. Because of the mythology and expectations of whiteness, white males are lulled into believing that their beleaguered condition is because of black progress, which causes them to feel subjugated, powerless, and victimized.

Whiteness has not protected working-class white men from the loss of the ability to achieve the American dream, falsely fostered upon them by upper-class white men. Deindustrialization -- the forced income stagnation and loss of good manufacturing jobs -- has wiped out millions of jobs for the white working class. Globalization and global trade deficits have exacerbated stagnating wages, layoffs, and factory closings. Technology has played a major role in changing the educational, housing, and employment environment in the United States. These changes in society have made working-class white men feel that they are now a subjugated class and that black and brown progress is at their expense. When will they come to the awareness that it’s a class and not a color problem?

Because of so many decades of gradual decline of this section of American society, the ideal of a democratic America is at stake. Unless the core issues driving the rhetoric and intense emotions currently being expressed are openly acknowledged and examined, and the underlying anger and despair instilled by the expectations of whiteness are resolved, democratic principles in America can be lost as they were 100 years ago in Ocoee, Florida, a sad day in America’s history.

It is urgent that American political leaders of both parties understand what they’ve been handing the people over the last half a century and exercise the courage and moral backbone to straightforwardly confront the issue of white supremacy. They must urgently engage white working-class men and try to advise them of the true causes of their condition, and that voting to meet a psychological need for a sense of superiority will not ameliorate their current economic, and social. or mental distress. If not, opium addiction and suicides among white men will continue, and the country will remain split politically and emotionally. White men must vote for themselves and their families, for the tangible benefits of across-the-board medical care, good schools, and access to mortgages and loans. Phony emotional relief that might come for a minute from voting against anything that will be gained by blacks in the same financial straits as whites get white supremacists absolutely nowhere.

The white male’s psychological need to have their sense of superiority restored is foremost in their minds when they go to vote. It is highly unlikely that the 2022 or 2024 elections will change the economic and material condition of white working-class white men, just as it did not when the social construction of whiteness was created, however the psychological need for a sense of white superiority will be satisfied. Honesty must prevail to convince working-class white men how the capitalist economic system operates, and where he fits into it in a changed and continuously changing America.

Most critically, political leaders must make it clear to American voters that democracy and white supremacy cannot co-exist. Americans must make a choice, must choose to create a society in which American ideals of freedom, justice, and opportunity are available to all Americans. If not, the nation will continue to experience racial chaos. It is hoped that when Americans go to the polls on November 8, they will choose democracy rather than revert to the disastrous attitudes and needs of the past. It is crucial that even shameful American history be acknowledged so that it will not be repeated. The November 8 elections will point the direction in which America will go in the 21st century.