Last month, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a poll that indicated voters in swing states thought party members were too “preachy,” “critical,” and “focused on culture wars.”
Conventional wisdom has always said that liberals focus on identity while conservatives are entirely concerned with “real” issues, such as the economy and jobs.
And indeed, one party has introduced dozens of new state laws that reshape how race is taught in schools, the rights of transgender children and their families, and reproductive rights.
Particularly since Democrat Joe Biden was elected president, conservative politicians and media personalities have focused on “woke” politics. Although they can rarely describe what they really mean, attack is usually invoked whenever issues important to marginalized people are raised.
Although poll respondents think the Liberals are too judgmental, the Republican Party, lacking any real policy or plan, wants to look into the culture wars even more with the approach of the mid-term elections. They haven’t been shy about turning almost any major issue, from the coronavirus pandemic to the war in Ukraine, into something they can inject their grievance politics into. Over the weekend, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (RN.C.) told a group of supporters in his home country that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was a “thug” and “pushes woke ideologies” in Ukraine.
And it’s not just rhetoric. At least 36 states have introduced or passed laws that restrict what teachers can say about race and US history. Laws targeting pregnant women are also in the works – more laws that restrict the right to abortion were passed last year more than in any previous year. In March 2021, Republican state lawmakers had already set a disk for most laws filed in a year targeting transgender Americans.
the Democrats should we stop fueling the cultural debates that divide? The GOP legislatures have been bloodthirsty in their quest to remake the United States into a white Christian’s ideal world. There would be no abortions, only forced births; homosexuals and trans people would be eradicated, and black people would finally accept their place in the racial hierarchy.
And let’s be clear about what “culture war issues” really are. These are not disposable talking points that only identity-politics-obsessed liberals care about.
The Republicans’ right-wing agenda is clearly designed to silence, belittle and even exterminate the population they consider undesirable. Whether it’s queer people, trans people, or people of color, this is an all-out assault.
The GOP culture war is not just rhetoric, it’s real life.
Take Florida Stop the wake up act, which stands for Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act. It prohibits individuals from making anyone feel uncomfortable about their race, national origin or gender.
It also prohibits employers from providing training that promotes the idea that “an individual bears responsibility for, or should be discriminated against or receive unfavorable treatment because of actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex or national origin.”
In summary, the bill is essentially about making it illegal for white men to feel uncomfortable being white men, and it is deliberately vague. Who will decide which actions violate this law? The bill has passed the Florida Legislature and is awaiting the expected signature of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Another bill pending DeSantis’ signature targets the LGBTQ community and education. The “don’t say gayThe bill prohibits Florida teachers from speaking about gender identity or sexual orientation in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms or in a “way that is not age-appropriate.” The legislation also allows parents to sue school districts for violating the provision. While supporters of the bill say such discussions are meant to take place at home, teachers in Florida worry that the broad nature of the wording could open the door to numerous lawsuits from parents.
In Texas, Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion who said providing gender-affirming care to transgender children was child abuse under the law. Mandatory child abuse suspects, including teachers, were required to report trans children and their parents to state child protective services. Now parents of trans children in Texas are is under investigation by the state. (At least one of the investigations launched so far has been halted by state courts.)
This isn’t the Lone Star State’s first radical proposal. In September, the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature passed a tough anti-abortion bill that prohibits the procedure at six weeks, before many know they are pregnant and also allows individuals to sue anyone involved in an abortion after six weeks. Emboldened by this broad action, other states, including Missouri and of course, Florida, seek to follow suit.
But somehow, despite the avalanche of sweeping laws intended to restrict the rights of huge swaths of the population, the narrative remains that the real problem with political culture is that liberals are going too far.
And it’s not just the media buying this narrative, it’s also large parts of the Democratic Party itself. According to Politicsone of the slides shown to Democrats by their campaign arm urged members to stay away from a certain type of debate. “Democrats must demonstrate that they fully understand and care about the stressors in people’s lives…without fueling divisive cultural debates,” it read.
Last summer, political commentator James Carville went viral for demanding that Democrats stop being so “woke” or it will cost them the voting booth. When Republican Glenn Youngkin won the race for governor of Virginia last fall, he credited the Democrats with “stupid alarm clock.”
Republicans were happy to join the deal and made similar remarks about Democrats running in the midterm elections.
“These far-left policies are so far removed from the mainstream in the country right now that they can’t get people elected,” said Sen. John Thune (RS.D.) said on Fox News late last month. “I think they get crushed in the middle of the country, and the reason for that is the extreme radical agenda.”
Perhaps voters convinced that it is the Democrats who have moved too far to one side do not want to take into account the fact that they I am okay with radical Republicans, at least on some level.
Otherwise, why would a moderate white president who can’t help but say how much he loves the police be seen as a left-wing activist backing the fundraiser when the party seeking to remove trans children from their loving homes would be seen like people who understand the average needs of ordinary people?
If the Democrats end up losing control of Congress, much more will be said about how and why the Liberals lost — and what they can do to win next time around. Surely, a nondescript “awakening” and focus on identity politics will be blamed. But before the pundits can shout about their inability to reach “regular” voters due to extreme policies, it’s important to remember who actively takes us back to the 1950s. And who isn’t.