Michael Evans contributed this opinion piece in response to the recent post, “Woke for Practical Progressives.“ Michael is an editor and a political junkie.
Regarding progressives and the “woke” agenda, I agree with some of your points but you have to put them in proper context and consider their relative influence within the larger progressive movement.
All this follows on a history of conservatives defining the public perception of liberal/progressive viewpoints. Indeed, virtually all issues covered in the U.S. media are discussed within a framework outlined by conservatives: gun control, leave no child behind, pro life, open borders and the like.
And that works for how they frame progressives as well, so defund the police becomes a catchphrase applied to all progressives, without reference to the nuances implied by people who want to alter, but not eliminate, policing in our country (which, by the way, is desperately needed).
Yet, you have the right constantly referring to the “liberal media.” For decades, I was baffled by this accusation as there has been no point in U.S. history in which the media was “liberal” or “progressive” or anything close. Then, around 2005, I saw a letter to the editor in the Charlotte Observer in which the writer accused the paper of being “liberal” because it had taken the right-wing position on an issue rather than the far right stance. That’s when I understood that the accusation has nothing to do with ideology; it just means “the media doesn’t agree with what I think.”
Then there is the media’s double standard. Kevin McCarthy gives the video footage of the Capitol on Jan. 6 to one newsperson at one network, a network that just happens to be the mouthpiece of one (his) political party. What if a Democrat had done something similar, for example, giving the video footage to Democracy Now or even to a centrist outlet like CNN or even to a single outlet period; that person would have had to resign within 24 hours. I haven’t heard any calls for McCarthy to resign because of his infraction.
That brings us to Donald Trump. A career criminal who will almost certainly never spend a day in jail or be held accountable in any substantive way for his lifetime of wrongdoing. And why is that? Like McCarthy, he has the grand slam of “stay out of jail” protection: He’s white, rich, male and Republican. And Trump one ups McCarthy because, like only one other criminal on the planet, he has quintuple protection, in that he and George W. Bush are also ex-presidents.
Look who gets held accountable: Martha Stewart, Bernie Madoff, Elizabeth Holmes, Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, Sam Bankman-Fried. Now all of these folks engaged in criminal activity and were properly held accountable. But with the aforementioned grand slam protection, their crimes would have been minimized or even dismissed. And this is why George Santos will go to jail. But his is an interesting case. Why would anyone be surprised at the lies he’s told? It’s a logical evolution from Reagan to Gingrich to Bush/Cheney/Powell to Trump to Marjorie Taylor Greene and now Santos. The only surprise to me is that he was not named to the Congressional Ethics Committee.
What does all this have to do with wokeness? Woke is a conservative construct that is a catchall for anything they disagree with (think of it as an extended version of “liberal media”). Progressives are about diversity that reflects the people who live in our society and helping people overall through fact- and evidence-based information; if that is “woke,” then sign me up. Opposing that “woke” is essentially closing your eyes to the world around you. For the right-wing elite, there is at least a logic to this: They are protecting their access to power with a focus primarily on protecting/enriching their own family. For the vast majority of their supporters, what do they get out of it aside from the satisfaction of laying the blame for their own woes on some denigrated “other”?
You stated: “Meanwhile, very importantly, how this will effect elections in 2024? The practical political truth is most voters in swing states don’t want to hear identity politics blasted at them all day long. They want financial security. And safety. And a future for their family. Isn’t it best to concentrate on things we can build coalitions achieving? Like freedom of speech, the right to vote, the right to privacy, a clean environment, peace, and financial security.”
Yes, your assumption is logical. But electoral history has proven time and time again that middle America will prioritize their opposition to abortion, their hatred of gays and their position on other “culture war” issues over their own bottom line. And you left out the one issue that they care about more than any other: guns. With truth and facts a casualty of the 21st century, it’s hard to see how the issues that you outline in the paragraph above will take center stage in any meaningful way in 2024.
Just a few thoughts.