In case you missed it, AOC responded to James Carville’s blaming “stupid wokeness” for Democratic electoral losses and clapped back by saying wokeness “is a term almost exclusively used by older people these days,” adding that “the average audience for people seriously using the word ‘woke’ in a 2021 political discussion are James Carville and Fox News pundits[,] so that should tell you all you need to know.”
Rather than confronting Carville’s actual argument—that left-wing political correctness is turning off a lot of Americans and hurting Democrats at the ballot box—she’s smearing him by association and suggesting he’s out of touch with today’s youth.
Guess what? He is!
But Carville is in touch with the broader electorate, which is not representative of AOC’s New York district.
Rather than grapple with the substance of his critique, AOC made it personal. Carville is old, so obviously he has no wisdom to share with his party. This tells you much about our youth-centric culture that has little respect, let alone, reverence for its elders, from the “Ragin’ Cajun” all the way back to “The Pen of the Revolution.”
In fairness, I can understand why AOC and other progressives are unhappy with the way “woke” has been co-opted. Over the years, a lot of Black slang has been absorbed into the mainstream. And usually, that’s all good. But with “woke,” the term is now being weaponized against the people who coined it.
Still, it’s not just old, white Republicans who are using “woke” in a derogatory way—nor is it just older white Democrats like James Carville.
It’s even Barack Obama.
“This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke and all that stuff, you should get over that quickly,” Obama warned two years ago.
Sure, he’s a codger, too, but progressives might want to listen to the transformational African American leader who won the presidency twice. When it comes to Democrats winning the presidency, it would be impossible to find better living experts than Carville and Obama, yet the congresswoman who won her House district with about 16,000 votes thinks she knows better than both.
Imagine you were a Virginian who voted for Joe Biden in 2020 and Glenn Youngkin in 2021. Now, you are being told that the latter’s use of the term “Critical Race Theory” was itself an act of white supremacy and a coded “dog whistle.” The only problem? Glenn Youngkin’s actual comments were entirely anodyne—if not salutary. What he basically said was that systemic racism exists. Racism has plagued our history. But it does not define us as Americans.
At this point, you might be thinking the Republican Party is your new home.
Still, I can understand why progressives have a problem with the newer, broader, more colloquial definition of CRT. First, CRT, properly defined, specifically has to do with academic scholarship and law schools. Second, the term was intentionally demonized by an activist who bragged about it.
Personally, I thought it was splitting hairs for progressives to hold everyone to the literal definition of CRT, although I concede what we really meant to say was “woke.”
Except, now that’s out of bounds too.
In fact, on the heels of AOC saying it’s uncool and problematic to use the term, we are now being told it’s out-and-out racism. “If you’re not black and started using ‘woke’ pejoratively sometime post-2018 or so (or worse, don’t know anything about the earlier iteration of the term), I think it’s fair to consider it a racial slur,” wrote Slate’s Joel D. Anderson.
Anderson then took things one step further, adding: “And it doesn’t mean I’m gonna do anything to you, or that anyone else will. But it doesn’t mean I won’t either.”
There are a couple problems with this. First, Anderson’s tweet only reinforces suspicions about the authoritarian tendencies of the left. Second, what should we call this phenomenon if we can’t say “woke”? Words matter, and I don’t think “political correctness” (which sounds positive) is strong enough—nor does it capture the radical nature the left has adopted in recent decades.
Conservatives, who are already being told to refer to their mothers as “birthing persons,” have just been given a new list of naughty words that could result in cancelation (or an ass-kicking).
What we are left with is a lose-lose for everybody. Conservatives keep losing the culture, and Democrats keep losing elections.
Maybe it’s time for everyone to come to their senses.