Fox News is reporting that the Democrats’ struggle with wokeness is expanding. It started directly after the 2020 election with losses in the House that many purple district Democrats attributed to the radical proposals of the Squad, especially around policing and the summer riots. These more moderate Democrats, responsible for the bulk of the blue wave in 2018, may be in for a startling comeuppance again in 2022. The radical proposals are now coming from President Biden, and Americans are taking note.
Biden’s 100-day approval numbers showed the only majority support his policies have gained are in response to COVID-19. The administration’s scores on race relations, taxes and spending, China policy, and gun policy are all underwater with Americans. The first to put out a figurative distress signal was longtime political consultant James Carville. When Vox asked him to comment on the first 100 days of the Biden administration, he quickly turned to conversation to his concerns regarding the Democrat Party by criticizing “faculty lounge” politics:
You ever get the sense that people in faculty lounges in fancy colleges use a different language than ordinary people? They come up with a word like “Latinx” that no one else uses. Or they use a phrase like “communities of color.” I don’t know anyone who speaks like that. I don’t know anyone who lives in a “community of color.” I know lots of white and Black and brown people and they all live in … neighborhoods.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with these phrases. But this is not how people talk. This is not how voters talk. And doing it anyway is a signal that you’re talking one language and the people you want to vote for you are speaking another language. This stuff is harmless in one sense, but in another sense it’s not.
Carville said continued wokeness will prevent Democrats from building out their coalition and allow them to be typed by the Republicans as an urban, coastal, arrogant party because of how they talk. Following Carville’s comments. Democratic National Committee Chairman Jamie Harrison appeared on Morning Joe, and when asked, he agreed with Carville’s remarks:
Listen, I love Carville, and there’s some truth to what he says,” Harrison said. “And ultimately, working people just want somebody, and their leaders, to speak plain English, to speak to them in the way that they operate, in the space that they operate in.
Sometimes I get frustrated, as well, with some of the terms and the phraseology that’s out there,” he continued, “but what we have to do is this, Willie: Ultimately, we have to see people where they are. We have to see them, we have to hear them, we have to value them, and ultimately for us as leaders, we have to fight for them.
He went on to add, “Speak plain English. That’s a good bumper sticker.” Unfortunately for Harris and Carville, this is something the Democrats’ most media-savvy members cannot do. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and other Progressive Caucus members cannot frame anything other than through the lens of some kind of justice, be it economic, racial, or environmental. These phrases and the policies attached to them all lead to a massive redistribution of wealth and increased federal government control.
The party’s other problem is that Democrats will not simultaneously appeal to college-educated suburban voters and working and middle-class Americans. The former can only be referred to as decadent voters who are somehow motivated by feeling as if they are voting for a set of policies that benefit those less fortunate than themselves. The content of their university education and popular culture reinforces these views.
The latter focuses on safety, economic opportunity, and mobility. Especially as you move away from the coasts, these voters do not want handouts. They want jobs. They do not wish for the competition from low-wage workers entering the country at historic levels. Even predominantly Hispanic border counties flipped to President Trump for the safety and security of an orderly and well-controlled border. A multi-racial coalition of working-class voters also knew they experienced real wage growth during the first three years of President Trump’s term. That is part of the reason he outperformed every Republican candidate since 1960 with minority voters.
The political parties are at a crossroads, and whether Carville and Harris know it or not, their coalition is changing. Democrats are no longer the party of the underdog. Union leaders support them for political power, but increasingly union members vote Republican. Part of the reason was President Trump’s ability to authentically speak in plain English to let them know he valued their work and understood the hollowing out of middle America by the coasts. Somehow an octogenarian, who never built a thing in his life and became rich off a 50-year political career yammering about Scranton, doesn’t sound as genuine as a man who built skyscrapers.
But all is not lost for Carville and Harris. Wokeness is about to be killed by inflation and stagflation. Economic issues will magnify the foreign policy failures of Biden and his team, just like a similar set of circumstances plagued the Democrats during the Carter administration. The 1970s killed the progressive movement for nearly 40 years. As Carville well knows and probably helped to frame, President Bill Clinton famously said in his State of The Union in 1996:
We know big government does not have all the answers. We know there’s not a program for every problem. We have worked to give the American people a smaller, less bureaucratic government in Washington. And we have to give the American people one that lives within its means.
The era of big government is over. But we cannot go back to the time when our citizens were left to fend for themselves. Instead, we must go forward as one America, one nation working together to meet the challenges we face together. Self-reliance and teamwork are not opposing virtues; we must have both.
History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes. A large part of the reason President Richard Nixon won in 1968 was law and order. Anarchist and Marxist groups like BLM and antifa echo the Panthers and the Weather Underground. The only feature we haven’t had is a major bombing or an assassination. However, antifa has now reportedly threatened to kill the Mayor of Portland, and they have tried to bomb ICE facilities. They are also making use of Molotov cocktails.
Inflation is already rearing its ugly head. Now, companies are announcing price increases on everyday goods, from food to paper goods. This emerging issue will only be magnified if President Biden and the Democrats ram through another $6 trillion in spending on things nobody wants to please their left-wing base. The green agenda will raise the price of energy as the administration cracks down on fossil fuels. All of these policies hurt the middle and working-class the most.
Wokeness may go away, but it will only do so if Democrats suffer a stinging electoral defeat and stop emboldening their most radical members. Right now, we should work to ensure 2022 echoes 1994 and 2024 echoes 1980.