Carville: Dems Need to Speak Yiddish, Not Hebrew

Bill Clinton's strategist thinks his party needs a wake-up call.

When I saw that Jim Carville told Vox “Wokeness is a problem and we all know it,” I was both curious and fearful that it would be another case of an older white man not getting it. But he actually makes a subtle point in his classic not-so-subtle style.

What Carville offered up instead was a blunt critique of his own party even after a successful 2020 election cycle — a sequel of sorts to his fulminations during last year’s Democratic primaries. The longtime Democratic strategist is mostly pleased with Biden, but it’s where much of the party seems to be going that has him worried.

“Wokeness is a problem,” he told me, “and we all know it.” According to Carville, Democrats are in power for now, but they also onlynarrowly defeated Trump, “a world-historical buffoon,” and they lost congressional seats and failed to pick up state legislatures. The reason is simple: They’ve got a “messaging problem.”

But, no, the issue isn’t that the party is alienating white racists and misogynists by over-emphasizing social justice issues. It’s literally about the language being used to communicate those issues.

Sean Illing

What do you make of Biden’s first 100 days?

James Carville

Honestly, if we’re just talking about Biden, it’s very difficult to find something to complain about. And to me his biggest attribute is that he’s not into “faculty lounge” politics.

Sean Illing

“Faculty lounge” politics?

James Carville

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.

Sean Illing

Is the problem the language or the fact that there are lots of voters who just don’t want to hear about race and racial injustice?

James Carville

We have to talk about race. We should talk about racial injustice. What I’m saying is, we need to do it without using jargon-y language that’s unrecognizable to most people — including most Black people, by the way — because it signals that you’re trying to talk around them. This “too cool for school” shit doesn’t work and we have to stop it.

There may be a group within the Democratic Party that likes this, but it ain’t the majority. And beyond that, if Democrats want power they have to win in a country where 18 percent of the population controls 52 percent of the Senate seats. That’s a fact. That’s not changing. That’s what this whole damn thing is about.

Sean Illing

Sounds like you got a problem with “wokeness,” James.

James Carville

Wokeness is a problem and everyone knows it. It’s hard to talk to anybody today — and I talk to lots of people in the Democratic Party — who doesn’t say this. But they don’t want to say it out loud.

Sean Illing

Why not?

James Carville

Because they’ll get clobbered or canceled. And look, part of the problem is that lots of Democrats will say that we have to listen to everybody and we have to include every perspective, or that we don’t have to run a ruthless messaging campaign. Well, you kinda do. It really matters.

I always tell people that we’ve got to stop speaking Hebrew and start speaking Yiddish. We have to speak the way regular people speak, the way voters speak. It ain’t complicated. That’s how you connect and persuade. And we have to stop allowing ourselves to be defined from the outside.

I’ve made variations of this argument many times over the years and think Carville is right. Even beyond the issue of the effect on party identification and election turnout, a large part of the problem with our national conversation is that vocabulary that has been developed in Sociology and Gender Studies departments not only fails to translate to the outside world but actually alienates people you’re trying to persaude.

My go-to example are variations of “privilege.” “Privilege” is a great faculty lounge word. It’s a perfect way to convey “unearned advantage” and academics, like professionals in any field, will naturally gravitate to useful jargon that simplifies discussion among the in-group.

Transported to conversations with out-groups, though, and it backfires. It should not be that hard to explain to people that, all things being equal, being white comes with certain advantages in American society. Most fair-minded people would agree that this is true with very little persuasion. But, tell a white person who is in or came up from poverty or working class origins that they have “white privilege” and they will immediately become defensive, if not insulted. And telling them to “check their privilege” will make them irate.

“LatinX” is a perfectly useful faculty lounge word, in that it’s a way to take a gendered language that assumes that sex is binary and make it more inclusive by using conventions borrowed from other contexts. But neither Spanish nor Portuguese have this construction and normal people from those communities will find the construction idiotic. (Granted, this is partly a function of the problem that “LatinX” is trying to solve—the cultural assumption that gender is binary.)

There are lots of other examples of words that come from Critical Theory and various Studies programs (“intersectionality,” “ally,” “mansplaining,” and “manel” come quickly to mind) that don’t easily translate to retail conversation. Carville may well be right that we should simply come up with better ways to communicate the ideas rather than trying to propagate those constructions.

The rest of the conversation is more about political strategy and is less interesting to me. But he makes a series of interesting points around this idea.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Academia, Race and Politics, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Tim D. says:

    Are Democratic politicians really using this language though? Or is the demand here that no one should use this language because somewhere far away a swing district Dem might lose?

    I feel like Biden and basically all swing district candidates don’t typically speak this way. There was a lot of annoyance from folks like Rep. Spanberger that activists somewhere else were saying things that Fox News could hang around their neck.

    But… isn’t that the job? Seems to me that these politicians need to work more on boosting their own messaging around racial justice that works for their district instead of calling out “wokeness.”

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  2. James Joyner says:

    @Tim D.: A fair point, although I do so a lot of this language routinely used by younger pols. It’s more prevalent, though, in the academia-adjacent think tank and public intellectual spaces (including places like Vox). I don’t know how much “ordinary folk” interact with those media but I do think the language naturally seeps in.

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  3. Cheryl Rofer says:

    I was both curious and fearful that it would be another case of an older white man not getting it.

    You were correct. It is possible that different, non-white-male people may express themselves differently from older white men. It is possible they don’t want to be told how to speak by older white men. Speech policing is one of the constant microaggressions. Just stop it.

    [And yes, I know I used that icky “faculty lounge” word microaggression. It’s real, and we need a way to talk about it. That involves words.]

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  4. KM says:

    Carville may well be right that we should simply come up with better ways to communicate the ideas rather than trying to propagate those constructions.

    There really isn’t a better way that isn’t going to offend or irritate people. Everyone takes for granted the unseen blessings of their lives and gets cranky when it’s pointed out that yeah, it could be worse and you do have something others don’t that makes your life “better” than theirs. Everyone sees the bad things as afflictions to be cured but takes basics to be universal constants they really aren’t.

    Lets use indoor plumbing for an example. You don’t notice it until it breaks down or the hot water’s gone or toilet backs up. It’s just such a basic part of life for us we quibble about how fancy other people’s bathrooms are instead of being grateful they exist. If you grow up without indoor plumbing, listening to someone bitch they only have a crappy cracked plastic shower with Coke bottle as a showerhead instead of marble-tiled cathedral ceiling multi-rainforest shower head gets real old real fast. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck to be the guy using an old bottle to funnel his shower; it means the guy has a shower to complain about. He’ll be mad though since he *expects* to have a shower and what he has is terrible. How dare you tell him his sh*tty shower means he’s benefiting in society somehow – have you seen that thing?! The idea of not having a shower at all ever is so alien it doesn’t occur unless it’s brought to his active attention.

    How do you explain to a male the feeling of being unsafe after dark as a women when it’s just not something that occurs to them? A prey feeling that leaves you crossing the street from strangers and actively affects what you do so you don’t *die*? How do you do it without saying you don’t get intrinsically this phenomena because of what you are and that puts you in a more favorable position then others? Of course you’ll get defensive – there could be criminals and you’re not heartless! You’ve felt unsafe before! It’s not the same thing though and getting that thought through requires a specific concept or name. That’s the objectionable part here to most – the specific concept that means they have some sort of benefit they can’t or won’t see and resent having pointed out. No amount of finessing or altering the language is going to change that.

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  5. Tim D. says:

    @James Joyner: Agree it’s more prevalent among younger pols and same-district folks like the Squad. I would guess it’s also just generally more prevalent among younger “ordinary folk” too.

    I’m also curious whether this is really just about language or whether Carville is expressing a reluctance to have the issues be central to the Dem policy platform. He’s like “We have to talk about race” but just not *that* way … but is he getting behind a different way of talking about police reform (for example)?

  6. mattbernius says:

    First, I actually do like the “Yiddish versus Hebrew” analogy.

    The reality, in part, is that there is a need to be able to talk to each audience in a way that responds. So it might be Yiddish in the streets, but Hebrew in the temples (at least for the most part). So historically that led to code-switching (changing language based on location).

    The problem today is recording devices. And I think that causes avoidance of code-switching. Or at least a fear that getting caught code-switching leads to someone being seen as being inauthentic. For example, complaints that Obama used to “Black it up” when talking with a primarily Black or minority audience.

    I’m not sure how to overcome this. I honestly think that Biden has done a far better job at it than a lot of other (white) politicians and Democrats from his generation.

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  7. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    The problem of “Latinx” is that seems to go from the assumption that the languages of Borges, Fernando Pessoa, Cervantes, Soror Joana and Machado de Assis are inherently sexist, and that’s particularly problematic if you are an Anglo.

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  8. KM says:

    @Tim D. :

    He’s like “We have to talk about race” but just not *that* way … but is he getting behind a different way of talking about police reform (for example)?

    This. It’s really nice and aspirational to say we should be able to speak to all groups so our message is understood but…… nobody’s been able to figure it out in the entirety of human existence. Seriously, one of the reasons these words get derided as “elitist” is because as soon as a label get introduced to society, it gets immediately labeled as a *label* by detractors or turned into a new pejorative. It’s very easy to dismiss this as the word /concept being the problem instead of pointing out every attempt to address the issue gets met with the same result.

    I mean, since the Civil Rights Era we’ve gone through how many terms to address our brothers and sisters to try and get a respectful tone and help eliminate hateful terminology? If some sneers AA in the same tone they would colored or n*gger, then what difference does the actual sound they use make? We keep trying to change how we talk about problems only for the problem causers to complain they don’t like how we’re trying to change the language. What do you do when Yiddish refuses to adopt a Hebrew term or deliberately ascribes it a difference meaning then the original one? Yiddish needs to be close enough to Hebrew for a meaningful translation to happen and be a direct derivative of the “higher” language; enough drift happens and it’s eventually no different than French or Arabic as a translation choice.

    For decades we keep getting told we’re not communicating correctly to get people to understand and accept ideas. No one offers a better, workable solution other than “watch what you say or you’ll piss them off”. Even if we came up with a perfectly unobjectionable, easily understood and acceptable term, it would be quickly dismissed as PC and get lumped in with the rest. Maybe it’s not the words that are the problem…..

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  9. Beth says:

    @James Joyner:

    It should not be that hard to explain to people that, all things being equal, being white comes with certain advantages in American society. Most fair-minded people would agree that this is true with very little persuasion.

    Except this isn’t true. It is exceptionally difficult to have these discussions with even “fair-minded” white people. This may be true for you, but you’ve had a panoply of Lefties wearing away at you.

    For example, I once had a discussion with a boss of mine. He was a law partner at his own firm. He was generally a pretty left leaning guy. However, when I tried to explain to him that being White, Male, Cisgender, Straight, Christian (Catholic) from an upper middle class background, he had a certain set of privileges that other people don’t have. He was a fair-minded guy, but to say he hit the roof is an understatement. According to him, his success was SOLELY due to his hard work and hard work alone. I told him that his hard work was great, now imagine having to do all that hard work from the closet. Or as a woman. Or a black woman. His deflation was glorious.

    The point is, how are you supposed to have these discussions with “fair-minded” White people if they are going to explode. I stood up to him cause I honestly didn’t give a crap if he fired me.

    Hell, my father in law is the same way. He’s convinced that queer people had it GREAT in the 60’s and 70’s. That it was all a bunch of japes and no one was forced into the closet.

    How do you have these discussions if “fair-minded” people have a vested interest in protecting their own White identities.

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  10. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Carville is right and wrong– but the Democratic intelligentsia wont listen and adjust. It’s more important to be ‘woke’ than it is to win power and solve problems. Frankly, its the same on the other side–everyone with a brain who happened to be a Republican knew that it was likely Trump would lose and take the the Senate down with him. Yet they continued—why?

    THE FRIGGIN PRIMARY PROCESS!

    Lets be real–the biggest threat to democracy right now is the primary voter. Politician are actors signaling to people they need. In our current version of democracy–that means donors and primary voters. This is where Carville is wrong. Democratic primary voters DO speak Hebrew. You need to pivot to Yiddish for the primary to drive turnout but you can ever completely pivot because you need to keep primary voters engaged–the entire election cycle.

    I am the minority on this — but I don’t need anyone speaking about ‘black’ issues. In fact, I think its counter productive because it increases resistance. Obama tried to do this but paid a political price because black Democratic Primary voters (HOTEPs as they are affectionately referred to) are offended if you don’t put “black” in front of everything. Unfortunately, we have not yet learned to move as a community by not telegraphing our punches. To be clear–I want politicians to address the issues but use different messaging. Frankly, Democrats of the past did neither so I can understand how some believe they much have “black” messaging in order to spur a follow-through of action.

    This country does not like black people–I get that. But I consider that a weakness that could be exploited for gain. Police Reform? The police shoot a couple of white people per day. We can move the ball farther with reform by showing a steady stream of white people unjustly killed than we can black people. Im agnostic to the means (within the law) by which the ends are achieved.

    A long time ago, I stopped caring why someone opposed by goals. Because it really doesn’t matter if you denied me a job or housing because Im black or not. The bottom line is I was denied and I have a choice–I can either stop, go around, or go through you. Im certainly not going to be stopped so I’ll go around or through you to get what I want. Sure, I could use existing tools to sue for discrimination and all that–and those are options. But a punitive option is something I would consider if available for anyone opposing me if I believe it warranted. Again, I AM THE MINORITY black opinion on this. But my life has been shaped by various experiences that many Americans, let alone black men, have not experience.

    In grappling, the fighter on the bottom (to the untrained eye) appears to be at a disadvantage–but is actually in the superior position. However, you have to know how to grapple to seize the opportunity. Disadvantaged people understand fist fighting when they need to broaden their toolkit for judo and grappling. This is all Carville is saying

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  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    Progressives are incapable of grasping just how obnoxious they are, even to people who agree with them on virtually every issue. Just occasionally STFU, huh? A little grace, a little humor, a little of that famous tolerance that progressives preach and fail abjectly to practice. There is no more arrogant creature on earth than some white Brown University graduate who’s taken a seminar on gender and read an essay by TNC.

    Insufferable, tedious, impolite, hubristic and condescending – not to racists, mind you, not to misogynists, because those people just laugh. No, all the fire of progressives is aimed squarely at the allies they claim to want but relentlessly alienate.

    And the worst of it is just how often they’re simply stupid, clueless and utterly unable ever to admit error. For the record Defund the Police was a stupid, self-harming slogan. Stupid. An own-goal as the Brits might say. Are progs capable of admitting that? Nah. Of course not.

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  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    Five years ago, or so, I got into a huge fight with progressives in the kidlit community.

    One side said that white writers should not be allowed to write Black characters.

    The other side pointed out that given that only 13% of the country is Black, if we assume equal productivity all around, it means that Black characters would disappear from 87% of books, which is rather the opposite of stated goals. It would be literary Apartheid.

    Guess which was deemed the racist position?

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  13. Tony Zbaraschuk says:

    I’ve seen several cycles of “let’s find a new word to talk about this group/topic/whatever, so we avoid the prejudice associated with the old word.” But prejudice is attached to the referent and not the reference, so after about a decade the same opprobrium attaches to the new word, and meanwhile you’ve cut yourself off from all the people in the past who might have taught you something about how to handle the situation, because now you’ve learned to reject their thought because it’s clothed in language you don’t acknowledge.

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  14. just nutha says:

    @KM:

    Maybe it’s not the words that are the problem…..

    [ding, ding, ding] We have a winner. Please clear your hard cards and prepare for the next round.

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  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Tony Zbaraschuk:
    I lack sufficient upvotes. Exactly!

    We have changed the word we use to refer to Americans of African origin repeatedly, and yet, George Floyd. Progressives have a frankly superstitious approach to language, as though there were magic words, as though changing the label would change the contents.

    I could paste a label that said ‘Holy Water,’ over the label that reads ‘Talisker 10’, and I’d be engaging in a religious ritual every day at 5. Praise the Lord!

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  16. just nutha says:

    @Tony Zbaraschuk: “…so after about a decade…”

    Meh, I don’t think it takes a decade, but I admire your generosity of spirit toward your fellow man.

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  17. Tim D. says:

    @Michael Reynolds: OK, but progressives also favor changing policy and not just words.

    Whatever you might think about “Defund the Police” no one thinks that it is overly-academic “faculty room” language. Seems that Carville is conflating two issues here, hence my questions above about whether concerns about “wokeness” are being used as a smokescreen to (yet again) avoid addressing the underlying policy problems.

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  18. Lounsbury says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa: Well yes – it’s an Anglophone assumption arising from a certain cultural imperialism and anglocentrism in no small part derived from a blindness arising from Anglo-monolingual privilege and unfamiliarity with strongly grammatically gendered languages like all of the Romance languages – Molière as well as Cervantes and (which mind you are not binary gendering…). Nevermind it’s also monstrously ugly as a word, really a self-caricature of Lefty intellectualism.

    Carville is spot on in that the Left – most particularly the American Left – has adopted “faculty lounge” (aka egghead) language that is massively tone deaf.

    @Michael Reynolds: Defund the police, rather look at how this was explained and hand-waived away amongst the more wokeish of the Lefty Left commentariat here, although it was such a stunningly stupid and obvious own-goal as to be jaw-dropping that anyone thought it was a good idea.

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  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Tim D.:
    Americans are incapable of thinking in any but binary terms. So, for example, if I go on Twitter and object to the latest woke word of choice, I get support form racist assholes and am attacked by progressive commissars. Making it effectively impossible to discuss actual issues.

    It’s a waste of time hoping the racist assholes will recognize nuance and shades of gray, but it is disappointing to find people on ‘my’ side being every bit as simple-minded, angrily and arrogantly simple-minded.

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  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:
    Yes, LatinX is cultural imperialism, insufferably arrogant.

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  21. Raoul says:

    In this day and era of social media we spend too much time analyzing every inconsequential story. When the 4 burgers a year story came out, it was obvious that it was a fabrication. People who peddled it had their reputation affected like John Roberts. Others like Tucker were not affected because nobody cares about his reputation. But the story was just silly. Same deal with Latinx- according to Pew last August, only 3% of Hispanics use it and three quarters of Hispanics have not even heard of the term, personally, I’m not 100% sure what it means. The point is that no one cares and only users of the term and the overconsumers of media think it is an issue. And that’s wokeness for you, a few people make an issue of something (right and left); sadly the red meat right bites like they bite on everything, and political commentators comment like they comment on everything, and a vast majority of people move on and could care less about all these non-consequential topics.

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  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    I don’t want to lean too far into historical parallels here, but in 1930’s Europe you had the same stifling of the rational middle because Fascists and Communists defined the two poles and any expression of nuance could be seized upon by one objectionable bunch of assholes and denounced by their opposite number. The tyranny of extremists forcibly enlisting everyone in their particular obsessions.

    Fortunately, nothing bad came of that.

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  23. Kathy says:

    For the record, president Vicente Fox started a trend of using both the masculine and feminine forms of nouns when addressing people. He’d say things like “Mexicanos y mexicanas,” or “niños y niñas.” This has stuck to some degree.

    It’s common, though not universal, to use the symbol @ in some such nouns to include both genders. Thus you see things as “estimad@ cliente,” or “niñ@s.”

    This is in Mexico. I don’t know whether something similar happens in the rest of Latin America.

    Also, the problem is that English lost the use of gender in nouns, unlike most Indo-European languages.

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  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    But, tell a white person who is in or came up from poverty or working class origins that they have “white privilege” and they will immediately become defensive, if not insulted. And telling them to “check their privilege” will make them irate.

    Thank dawg I’m not a politician. I don’t have to worry about white people’s precious fee fees. As a white man born in ’58 and growing up in the 60s and 70s I know I had white privilege working for me because I saw and heard it a hundred times or more and those were just the blatant instances, it’s not counting all the times I didn’t see it or hear it because it was just my “normal.”

    For 35 years I was a union carpenter. I worked my ass off standing walls and hanging 100# sheets of drywall. I probably worked on hundreds of job sites, and left a little bit of my body behind on every one of em. Yeah I worked hard, I got well paid too, with excellent insurance, vacay pay, and a pension. But in all those years I only once worked with a black carpenter and I never did work with a woman*.

    Don’t even try to tell me white men don’t have a leg up on the rest. Just don’t.

    *I took a journeyman upgrade class with a woman once. I’ve only seen women on 2 job sites and both times they were electricians.

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  25. Mike Schilling says:

    Here goes: Hawley is a schmuck. Carlson is a putz. Pence is a shlemiel. They should all geh in drerd arein.

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  26. Tim D. says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “Americans are incapable of thinking in any but binary terms”

    Well, it’s true that some countries are only capable of binary thought and others aren’t (I kid, I kid).

    Snark aside, twitter brings out the simplistic and dogmatic in all of us. I generally find these conversations are much much better offline.

    Also, activists are doing their job of pushing to change the conversation, and policy makers are doing their job of trying to put ideas into practice, subject to multiple constraints. I tend to think drilling down into policy is clarifying.

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  27. Mr. Carville has the same problem with which other Clintonistas are struggling. They’re trying to cling to relevance in a Democratic Party that is rapidly leaving them behind.

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  28. Tim D. says:

    Because I am old enough to remember. A 2004 flashback to the previous round of the wokeness debate, submitted without comment.

    https://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=230634&page=1

    Was Same-Sex Marriage Partly to Blame for Kerry Loss?

    “”I believe it did energize a very conservative vote,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a former San Francisco mayor. “I think it gave them a position to rally around.”

    Conservatives agree.

    “The people behind the lawsuits to strike down marriage in courts have seriously misjudged the views of the American people,” said Matt Daniels, president of a public policy group called the Alliance for Marriage.”

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  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Tim D.:
    What activists did was come very damn close to re-electing Trump, and almost certainly cost us House seats. The problem with so much of the current generation of social media activists is that they don’t really GAF about helping actual people, they care only for being righteous. It’s all about them, their feelings, their anger. It’s narcissism masquerading as social conscience.

    Has a progressive managed to win a single election where the district wasn’t at least D+10? In electoral terms they’re just our Tea Party, playing to the fringes. If anything is going to be done about police reform, or the environment, or any of the progressive causes, it will be done (is being done) by the old liberal they despised and actively sought to ‘cancel’ over imaginary infractions.

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  30. Tim D. says:

    @Michael Reynolds: You think Black Lives Matter activists don’t GAF about helping actual people? Hard disagree.

    The problem here is not social justice activists and IMHO it’s naive to think that politicians can direct how people in the streets talk about things. Larger problem I think is Fox News and a GOP that has become untethered from reality in a serious way.

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  31. James Joyner says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: A professional strategist pointing out that certain words piss people off isn’t “speech policing,” it’s dialog. And, while I don’t personally find “microaggression” problematic, I can see where it would cause eye-rolling to those who don’t spend a lot of time in these discussions.

    @Beth:

    I told him that his hard work was great, now imagine having to do all that hard work from the closet. Or as a woman. Or a black woman. His deflation was glorious.

    So, if I understand the story correctly, in the space of one conversation you explained something that had never occurred to him and, while it initially annoyed him, he realized you were right? Like, not fully bought in but came to understand that you had a valid point? That’s pretty great. Now, imagine if you had unintentionally insulted him on top of that.

    @OzarkHillbilly: Again, I think most decent white men could be persuaded of that point even if they don’t realize it on their own. It’s perfectly understandable how, in a society that claims to be meritocratic, people like @Beth‘s boss would think they got to where they are because they worked hard and made good choices. They probably did! Especially if they came from much lower on the ladder. But even intelligent people like Adam Carolla will be like “Privilege? Listen to how much I pulled myself up by my bootstraps!

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  32. Northerner says:

    @KM:

    How do you explain to a male the feeling of being unsafe after dark as a women when it’s just not something that occurs to them?

    Where are those males living that they don’t feel unsafe after dark? I know what you’re trying to say, but that’s a bad example given how common that fear is even among men (with the exception of teenage males, but they’re not afraid of anything: Jump off a 20 foot building on a dare? Sure, why not, though you have to buy me a beer if I do).

    Ultimately people tend to maximize their concerns and downplay others concerns. Physically healthy people downplay what its like to be sick or disabled until it occurs to them or someone they love. Mentally healthy people downplay what its like to be mentally ill unless it happens to them or someone they love. Being physically and mentally healthy are by far the two biggest privileged classes there are, but receive far less attention than other privileges. Why? Because so many people enjoy the privileges that come with being healthy that they see them as normal.

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  33. Mu Yixiao says:

    @KM:

    Depending on where I am, it definitely occurs to me.

    When I was in Cleveland for a show, I mentioned to the crew that I walked to the Agora the night before (long story). One of the guys–a 6′-2″, 275lb, muscular black man–replied “You did what? Man… I don’t go there at night.”

    Fortunately it was a during a snow storm, so all the criminals stayed home.

    I’ve been in a lot of places around the world, and there have been plenty of places I was afraid to walk. Walking in Banawa, Manilla? I did that in the middle of the day for about a block–then straight back to my hotel (which was really nice, and had a very nice vegetarian cafe next door).

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  34. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Tim D.:
    No, of course BLM activists care – the ones who are actual BLM and not just Antifa kids looking to break windows, or ‘Twitter activists’ looking to score points.

    And yes, what Fox et al are doing is far worse, but if we can’t tell activists how to express themselves then still less can we influence Fox.

    Look, I don’t think I can magic up a smarter progressive population. Going all the way back to when I was 16 demonstrating against Vietnam, I saw ‘activists’ sabotaging our/their own movement by waving NVA flags or, like Jane Fonda, vamping on an AA gun in Hanoi. I admit I can’t stop the stupid, but I can still bitch about it and wish they were a bit smarter.

    It’s frustrating watching issues I care about being hamstrung by things like, ‘Defund.’ It’s frustrating watching #MeToo losing effectiveness by lashing out randomly without bothering to define what we’re talking about, and spouting nonsense about believing all women. It’s frustrating watching discussions of redressing some of the economic inequality be hijacked by idiot college kids prattling on about communism. And it is simply astounding watching progressives making racist arguments in support of anti-racism.

    I’m with @Jim Brown 32: . How about fewer white people absconding with Black causes. How about fewer white people redefining the unique Black experience in the US as a simplistic need for ‘diversity’ or conflating Black, Asian and Latino all as one population. There are lots of non-white groups with legitimate beef against society, but the only group in the same league with Blacks is American Indians. I’m nominally Jewish, and we have legitimate beef, but our experience in the US is in now way comparable to that of Black people.

    Mostly it’s frustrating knowing that if I can’t stand these people, as far Left as I am, there are a whole hell of a lot of people just looking for an excuse to throw a vote to a Republican because they’re tired of being verbally insulted on a daily basis by the college cognoscenti. I don’t give a single fuck for performative virtue, there are people living under a bridge half a mile from my house. I want to help them, the actual human beings, and anything that makes that more difficult is a problem for me. Liberals want to help those people, progressives want to shame society for not helping those people, and then reject every effort as inadequate. Those are not compatible goals.

    7
  35. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Northerner: @KM:

    How do you explain to a male the feeling of being unsafe after dark as a women when it’s just not something that occurs to them?

    I’ve had the opposite problem: I’ve been at pains to convince various women that they should damn well feel afraid. My wife came very close to being dead because she thought I was too paranoid. And why was I warning her about danger? Because I felt it myself. Men are raised from early on to know that 100% of threats to them or their loved ones would come from other men.

    5
  36. Grewgills says:

    Michael Reynolds, as someone on this site that regularly bemoans ‘wokespeak’, what vocabulary do you suggest to talk about privilege, systemic racism/sexism, homo/transphobia, etc. If the academic language is out of bounds, how do we address the issue directly with people?

    I understand that the recently minted college grad, or undergrad that took their first ___ studies course can be annoying, but they are such a small percentage of the conversation our side should just ignore them when they’re being self righteously silly and should mock the other side when they latch on to ‘this thing someone at ___ college said’, just like we’d laugh at a ‘this one time at band camp’ story.

    4
  37. Northerner says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Men are raised from early on to know that 100% of threats to them or their loved ones would come from other men.

    Well, 50%. The other 50% of threats are a combo of stupid things we do ourselves (as in we can be our own worst enemies via jumping off buildings as a dare for instance, drinking too much or doing too many drugs, smoking cigarettes’ — and you can add not getting vaccinated to the list), or threats from things that happen due to bad luck like car accidents or industrial accidents (you can be doing all the best practices and still die from a string of bad luck — though given that fewer men now do industrial or physical work that percentage is dropping).

    In terms of actual homicides, men are more likely to be killed (almost always by other men) than women, and so have an even bigger reason to be afraid. Though I suspect a look through the actuarial tables would show that men are far more likely to die from something they did to themselves than from homicide — we really are our own worst enemies.

  38. KM says:

    @James Joyner:
    To be fair, most Americans would tell you “worked hard and made good choices” because every single one of us thinks we’re the hero of our own story. You’re supposed to work hard and make good choices! It’s the expected bare minimum, not the bar to win an award. It’s asking a cookie for basic decency.

    But what does “worked hard” mean anyways? A CEO that cuts million dollar deals while chatting over lunch will say that qualifies but someone who does backbreaking labor at Amazon will scoff at that. What’s “a good choice”? Go to school and accrue tens of thousands of dollar in deb they’re never going to pay off vs graduate high school and working 3 jobs to get a house by age 25? Do they carry credit card debt and go on vacation rather than live in austerity to pay off debts faster? Do they go out drinking when the beer’s $6+ a bottle vs staying home with a cheap sixpack?

    People have rose colored glasses about how much of their lives is really their choice and their doing. Random chance, genetics, environment, the economy and political climate, parents’ behaviors, sheer dumb luck – all of it does more for us then we do for ourselves. That’s traditionally why wealth and success were seen as a mark of divine favor; an inscrutable god or Lady Luck did more to make or break you then all your planning and labor could ever do.

    Hard work hardly works or we’d all be millionares, right? Either hard work doesn’t cut it in a capitalistic society, we’re not really working hard at all, or the system is designed to trick people into thinking their worth is measured in how hard they do anything.

    4
  39. Kathy says:

    @Northerner:
    @Mu Yixiao:

    Are you afraid you’ll be raped walking after dark half a block to the parking lot in your home town?

    2
  40. Monala says:

    @Jim Brown 32: did you see the recent story from Colorado about the elderly white woman with dementia who accidentally walked out of Walmart with $13 worth of goods? They called the police even though they had reclaimed the items. The police showed up and proceeded to abuse the addled woman, dislocating her shoulder and then throwing her in a cell without medical treatment for six hours.

    Her attorney got their hands on video from the station where the police were watching the dash cam video and laughing about it.

    7
  41. KM says:

    @Northerner:

    Where are those males living that they don’t feel unsafe after dark? I know what you’re trying to say, but that’s a bad example given how common that fear is even among men .

    The fear is common of certain areas, not just in general. Yes, most men would be uncomfortable walking in the dark in a strange bad neighborhood but how about their own quiet little suburban one? How many men think little of jogging after nightfall vs women? Hell, how many guys carry things like pepper spray or other strictly self-defense items (guns don’t count as that’s a different mentality)? Night after night, bars are packed with males unafraid of sexual predators taking advantage of them even if they are aware there’s at least one in the crowd. They don’t ask for escorts to their cars in places they’ve worked for years because some guy wouldn’t leave them alone during their shift and they know he’ll be outside.

    I guess my point is specific threat awareness vs general wariness and readiness. I’ve never seen a male clutch their keys between their fingers out of habit or send texts to their friends so everyone would know where they were if a date went bad. If white men had to live with the low-key paranoia women and minorities do constantly, the world would be a very, very different place.

    5
  42. Northerner says:

    @Kathy:

    Not raped, just attacked by someone (or more than one person) with a knife. Men are very unlikely to be raped. They’re more likely than women to be killed. I don’t know about the relative likelihood of being robbed/cut/shot by an armed attacker, but its high for men hence the fear. The chances of being robbed for women may be even higher, hence their fear.

    Most attacks on either men and women are unreported, because if there’s not a dead body or a well-off person involved the police simply don’t care. Tell a cop someone punched you and stole your wallet and they’ll yawn. If there was a knife involved they’ll ask a few questions but not follow-up. They start to pay attention if there’s a gun involved (or if you’re rich, in which case they care even if you get a minor bruise). If there’s a body then you’ve really got their attention, though I suspect that’s not a lot of consolation to the person being killed.

    3
  43. gVOR08 says:

    Frank Luntz, the GOP messaging guru, came up with “death tax” for the estate tax, and “climate change” for global warming, and “Democrat Party”. I don’t know if he came up with “pro-life”. Did he sit in a corner and come up with effective language? No. He took whatever phrases he could come up with or could crib and tested them in focus groups. WIKI quotes him as saying a hundred plus groups a year for five years. That’s expensive. Somebody paid a ton of money for Luntz to do that.

    I don’t know how Luntz’ findings were promulgated and enforced, but they were. Every Republican says “Democrat opponent” or “Democrat bill”. Republicans are more disciplined than Ds. That may partly be their more authoritarian kiss-up, kick-down personalities. I suspect it’s partly a greater dependence on big money donors, who provide instruction along with money. It’s partly that they work with very simple, yet fuzzy concepts like “MAGA” and “stolen election”. And it helps a lot that they don’t mind lying.

    I’m suggesting that the Ds’ problem with messaging is largely a matter of infrastructure and discipline. It would be good if someone were running focus groups on how to message police reform, but I don’t see who in the D world that would be, or who would fund it. And if they came up with a plan and a slogan, I don’t see how they’d hold anyone to it.

    4
  44. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Grewgills:

    The term ‘systemic racism’ means nothing to the vast majority of people, it’s vague and awfully hard to explain. ‘Built in disadvantages,’ or, ‘rigged system,’ are better approaches, IMO, though I hasten to add that I suck at slogans. People understand ‘rigged.’

    Instead of ‘Defund,’ an approach that suggests improvement. Talk about how we can’t fight crime if Black people can’t call the police. Talk about better screening, better training. Because no one with a brain wants to eliminate police and that’s what ‘Defund’ sounds like. People understand improving training, people understand hiring better people. People understand a common desire to fight crime.

    I rather like the term, ‘Toxic masculinity,’ it’s perfectly apt. But when it’s applied with a broad brush to anyone with a Y chromosome, it alienates people whose support we need. ‘Toxic men’ makes it less general, more specific. ‘Toxic behavior,’ better still.

    ‘White privilege’ is another apt term that is politically inapt. You simply cannot generalize that way and imagine that you’re going to get a buy-in from some poor bastard in a trailer park getting by on driving for Door Dash.

    Talk more about class. The people trying to keep Black people down are same folks that keep the working man down. The men who are toxic to woman are, guess what, toxic to most men, too. I hated those assholes since long before most current activists were born. Cut the shit about ‘white savior syndrome’ while at the same time demanding white people do more, it’s a Get Out of Jail Free card for white people who can just shrug and say, ‘whaddya gonna do?”

    And stop searching for new things to be outraged by, the mere identification of a potential outrage is not a virtue. If you don’t think it’s gone too far, a writer I know was informed – by a serious publisher – that one could no longer use the word, ‘crazy.’ Because crazy is misused to refer to mentally ill people, so, the entire word must be banned. Because then no one will ever again think anything is crazy.

    Most people are trying to do what’s right. They may be idiots but they’d like to be good people, see themselves as good people. But the severe, condemnatory tone of the Twitter progressives forbids any such grace. All are sinners! Except me! The more we tie things up in college seminar jargon – intersectionality FFS – the less appeal it has beyond campus. As hard as it is to practice, the more effective approach is to appeal to people’s better nature.

    I say all this in the full knowledge that I’m a flame-thrower myself at times and not known for my gentleness of speech. I can’t deny some hypocrisy, and some failure on my part. Mea culpa. But my advice is good nonetheless.

    10
  45. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Having been quoted, in an article that appeared on Memorial Day no less, suggesting that the Marine Corps had a problem with ‘toxic masculinity,’ I can attest that it’s damned near impossible to explain it to otherwise intelligent people. It’s just an unhelpful term among the uninitiated because they somehow think you’re against masculinity.

    6
  46. Chip Daniels says:

    Carville’s point about “faculty lounge” language has merit, because right now, one of the only things binding people of color to the Democratic Party is the venomous racism of the Republicans.

    Were it not for that, black and brown and Asian people would be spread out all across the political spectrum.

    White liberals sometimes fail to recognize the political diversity within our party because those policy differences get suppressed by the more urgent issue of racism.

    4
  47. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Grewgills: I think you asked a question one level down. One level up the question should be: Are those relevant concepts to start a discussion around that could lead to a change in attitude or Point of View. If that is not the preferred end goal then no use discussing anything with people–its better to say F- you Im going to do what I want to do because that is the world that makes me comfortable.

    Zero percent of the laborers and handymen my wife hires at the house are audiences for the concept of privilege. What privilege? They are working at my house and the houses of many of my colleagues no doubt wishing they could trade places (financially at least). In their minds–its not different than the white people’s house they work at–some people had their stuff together while others didn’t. If I were them and I heard some AA bemoaning about how the man was keeping him down–I frankly would be like: Really? [eyeroll]

    Many of these social justice concept are not designed around persuasion but to preach to the choir.

    5
  48. Tim D. says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I think my general point is that activists have always always always been criticized for going too fast, pushing too far, being counter-productive. And sure, there are trade-offs, but there are real victories too that solve problems and improve people’s lives that would never have happened without ambitious activists. It’s a short-term criticism, and in the long run we don’t know how any of this will play out. Insert one of many inspiring quotes here.

    And if you’re a grown-up professional Democratic politician you should be able to navigate all of this and hold your coalition together. That’s the job.

    2
  49. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Kathy:

    Are you afraid you’ll be raped walking after dark half a block to the parking lot in your home town?

    My home town is 3,000 people and everyone knows everyone’s grandmother. So… no. And based on the number of women (of all ages) who take their 3-mile walks at 04:00 (which is dark almost all the year), neither are they.

    Now… 50km down the road in Madison? I’m not afraid of being raped, but I am afraid of being knifed in the kidneys and left to bleed out for my cheap-ass phone and the $20 in my pocket. Or shot from a passing car because I “don’t belong here”. Or surrounded by angry 20-somethings who are going to use my head as a piñata because my skin in the wrong color.

    And a quick look at FBI stats says I’m far more likely to be murdered (limiting the numbers to white males) than you are to be raped by a stranger.

    There’s a huge fear, currently, that “my child is going to be kidnapped and sex-trafficked!” About 100 children a year (out of a population of ~74 million) are abducted by strangers each year. But if you listen to Facebook and popular media, it’s happening dozens of times a day–except no one can actually point to anything other than “Scary looking man” or “someone in a van”.

    1
  50. Mu Yixiao says:

    @KM:

    If white men had to live with the low-key paranoia women and minorities do constantly, the world would be a very, very different place.

    There’s one problem with your position: Fear != likelihood

    As a white male, I am far more likely to be murdered than you are to be jumped and raped. In fact, you’re actually more likely to be raped by the guy you ask to escort you back to your car than you are by some stranger. And a black man is far more likely to be killed than I am.

    This does not mean that abduction and trafficking is common.

    Maybe it’s my age (50’s), maybe it’s where I grew up (Midwest farm country)… but the women I know aren’t walking around afraid. Situationally aware? Sure. But so are the guys (everyone knows how Bob gets when he’s drunk).

    I’m a foot taller than my sister, and out-mass her by at least 30 kilos. If I tried to lay a hand on her, I’d be eating my balls for breakfast. I’m pretty sure my five-foot, 90 year old mother would look a mugger in the face and put the fear of God into him. 🙂

    1
  51. Dude Kembro says:

    White men do not get to steal the word “woke” from black youth and turn it into a pejorative. They do not have our permission to keep taking from our culture and turning it into a negative. #StayWoke

    3
  52. James Joyner says:

    @Dude Kembro: Language often gets unmoored from its original meaning. Being “woke” in the sense of being awake to racism, sexism, structural inequality, and all the rest is almost certainly a good thing to which we should aspire. But, alas, it is often applied to those whites engage in performance (‘virtue signaling’) for other whites.

    2
  53. KM says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    And a quick look at FBI stats says I’m far more likely to be murdered (limiting the numbers to white males) than you are to be raped by a stranger.

    Who said it was gonna be a stranger? The women in your town have more to worry about from their friends and neighbors then a mysterious stranger that just appears. It’s almost always the ones you know….

    I guess this thread proves my OG point – the words themselves don’t matter if your disagreement is with the concept. Both @Kathy and I referenced a specific type of fear (violence against women) not being the same as the type of fear men have of being attacked and that they don’t experience the same level of lowkey constant concern. Instead, we’re now talking about men worrying about getting murdered for being in a “bad” neighborhood like it’s the same thing. It’s not – as you noted, you feel perfectly comfortable in your home town because the threats to you aren’t there. Nobody’s going to knife you on your own turf but can you say no woman needs to fear being raped or assaulted, either by a stranger or someone she knows? The stats say otherwise. Someone might not have been murdered in your town ever but there’s no way in hell a woman hasn’t been assaulted, especially back in the day either by stranger, friend or even husband.

    We could call violence against women ITOPRTU instead but it wouldn’t have changed the conversation. If we were more worried about the terms being used bothering people then the debate, we wouldn’t have even gotten this far. Giving it a unique, acceptable to the crowd term doesn’t make the concept any more acceptable or less debatable.

    3
  54. Mu Yixiao says:

    Back to the original topic….

    I agree with Carville on this. Michael Reynolds has pointed out a lot of the issues with how the left uses language–badly.

    The issue that annoys me the most about “woke” is that (as Michael pointed out), it leaves no room in the middle. I’m a white male, therefore (according to the far left) I am 100% the problem and can have zero understanding of “the issues”. This is, of course, despite the fact that it’s white people saying this.

    Do I know what it’s like to be a black man in America? Of course not! And I would never claim to.

    But I do know what it’s like to be treated differently (in a negative way) because of the color of my skin.

    Portsmouth, VA. I was hungry and there was an Arby’s a few blocks away from my apartment. I drove down, walked in ready to get my Big Roast Beef with extra Horsey Sauce… and a full restaurant went silent, with every eye looking at me. There was a white boy in the Arby’s! I never went back there.*

    Overseas, I have:

    * Had people stop, stare, and point.
    * Ask if they can take my photo (like a monkey in the zoo)
    * Had them point and shout “Laowai” (“foreigner!”) **
    * Had taxis pull up… then pull away when they saw the color of my skin
    * Had people spit at me because of the color of my skin
    * Had women cross the street to avoid me

    The problem with “woke” is that it’s not about eliminating racism, it’s about “hating white people”. The “woke” are even changing definitions to fit their perspectives. So… only white people can be racist, because “racism” (under the new definition) requires a “systemic oppression”. Only those in power can be racist.

    I was in a discussion with some “young people” when this came up and I countered with “Oh. I live in a country where I’m part of a 0.04% minority. Therefore I–a white man–can’t be racist. Cool!” That got them blipping like a logic-challenged computer on Star Trek. Then I hit them with the fun one.

    “So…. if Hitler moved to Israel…. he couldn’t be racist?”

    Silence.
    ========
    * Instead I’d go to the McDonald’s where I couldn’t understand a single word they said–because they spoke AAVE (despite going to the same school as the rich white kids a couple blocks away).

    ** Multiple times a day for years.

    2
  55. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Lounsbury: Interestingly enough, the expatriate-French woman who I took French language classes from in my post-college, pre-grad school years seemed to lean toward the same conclusions as some who hold “a certain cultural imperialism and anglocentrism.” In fairness to the account, she was also a fan of Simone de Beauvoir, so I’m confident that her view is hardly monolithic among speakers of Romance languages. It’s just not completely cultural imperialism and anglocentrism, either.

  56. Grewgills says:

    Jim Brown 32,

    Many of these social justice concept are not designed around persuasion but to preach to the choir.

    Honestly, most of those terms are designed around academic study and discourse of the specific issues they talk about. They are like any other jargon in that respect. They are just much more likely to be taken out of that context and used more broadly by people with minimal understanding of what they mean.
    For a physics example take ‘quantum’, or for a more general science context take ‘theory’. Both of those terms are used generally and sometimes aimed back at scientists by people that have little to know understanding of what they actually mean in their academic context.
    Right now we have a lot of people with good and bad intent using words from a sociological context in common parlance with very little understanding of what they mean in their sociological context. All most of them seem to understand is what they signal in our polarized political context. Pick any word for the problem and it will act as the same signal in that toxic context.

    I think you asked a question one level down. One level up the question should be: Are those relevant concepts to start a discussion around that could lead to a change in attitude or Point of View.

    The short answer is yes. The slightly more nuanced answer is all of them are relevant concepts to discuss in the appropriate context. Not every frame for every concept is adept at changing attitudes. Some of the frames used in sociology, while very important to discuss to address societal issues, aren’t the best frames to use in a political context.
    Another example of this type of academic language inappropriately escaping into the wild was the idea that it wasn’t possible for a Black person in the USA to be racist. Now, I think everyone understands that anyone can be a bigot and probably everyone is at least a little bigoted. The sociologists taken out of context were talking about systemic racism, not personally bigoted views. I happen to think they are wrong for more nuanced reasons, but the reasons given by everyone I saw in public completely missed the point. So, the frame here was not good for politics, but was useful in the academic conversation. We can either demand that academics, or more narrowly social scientists, never use jargon that could be misused out of context, or accept that some of their terminology will be taken out of context and used inappropriately by people of good and ill will and do our best to deal with it.
    In the context of this relatively friendly space, we should be able to accept the terms for what they mean in their academic context without $hitting on them, while understanding that some of these terms aren’t useful at persuading people opposed to the underlying concepts, or too fragile to deal with the concepts being applied to them.

    3
  57. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @KM: “Random chance, genetics, environment, the economy and political climate, parents’ behaviors, sheer dumb luck – all of it does more for us then we do for ourselves.”

    I’m reminded of a line from The Wheel of Time series, in which one of the (humble) unlikely heroes of the book expresses surprise at being approved by the noble father of the daughter to whom our hero has become betrothed. The father explains that at the base of every “noble” family is a farmer who was more intrepid or had less to lose than his fellow men.

  58. Andy says:

    I pretty much agree with Jim Brown and Michael Reynolds here. And as one who reads what’s going on with the right, a very similar dynamic is happening there, but it’s not as visible because the right doesn’t influence the commanding heights of the culture the way the left does.

    In my view, a lot of this language is primarily about tribal identity and virtue signaling. It’s the language of in-groups, generally small, very online, and very elite in-groups. It’s not intended to convince others, it’s intended to demonstrate group identity and by extension, enforce group loyalty. Why is why “cancellation” always happens in or near the in-group (heretics are worse than the enemy) and is usually the result of violating some shibboleth. The fact that it’s most often very privileged white people who are on the vanguard “fighting” these tribal language wars on behalf of disadvantaged groups is an irony that seems lost on them.

    Anyway, the methods for real persuasion haven’t changed, and creating new language and redefinition of existing words that only a few understand is obviously counterproductive IMO. You didn’t see, for example, MLK jr or the leaders of the Temperance movement creating an in-group vocabulary and then castigating others for not adopting it. The reason they were so effective was that they had an actual strategy and understood where to apply societal pressure to actually bring about structural change. Strategy is something that most activists today lack because their vision doesn’t extend much past the in-group. This is especially true on social media where the most vocal scolds think that tweeting furiously and getting the bad people canceled for something dumb they said a decade ago is actually accomplishing something.

    4
  59. Grewgills says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    I was in a discussion with some “young people” when this came up and I countered with “Oh. I live in a country where I’m part of a 0.04% minority. Therefore I–a white man–can’t be racist. Cool!”

    I assume, by ‘new’ definition, you mean the sociological definition. In that case yes, in some non-white countries that don’t have certain post colonial issues, you would not be a ‘racist’ even if you were a flaming bigot. Not being racist, doesn’t mean you are a good person or free from racial bigotry. It is more specific and being poorly used out of context by them in good faith and by you to, well I don’t know why: to rub their noses in something? to play devil’s advocate? it doesn’t really matter.
    Well meaning people exposed to new uses of terminology can misuse it in good faith. We would all do better to honestly engage in those circumstances than be focused on point scoring.

    3
  60. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Monala: My wife showed it to me and I immediately thought: WTF isn’t this ALL OVER MSNBC?!?!?!? It would have been a perfect illustration of the lengths police will take in the name of compliance to rough up helpless people.

    But instead of the old lady they tried to astroturf the story of the teen wielding a knife at someone else and was killed by police–a story that isn’t going anywhere in terms of outrage at police abuse of power and authority.

    I’ll tell you what–I have 2 young distant cousins that share my last name that were shot in a parking lot a few months ago. One died. I didn’t know them personally since they were young but I know their grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Its depressing to hear your last name used in news spot on tv regarding a shooting and homicide.

    I wish to God a policeman was around to kill whoever shot and killed my kinfolks before they could pull that trigger and spare my extended family this tragedy.

    4
  61. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Grewgills: Well reasons and fair points. I hadn’t considered that many of these concepts and term escaped from academia. They should [mostly] remain there until properly translated into concepts that resonate with voters because a lot of them are impeding clarity on what the intended message is.

    3
  62. Dude Kembro says:

    @James Joyner:

    Language often gets unmoored from its original meaning.

    And this is a problem when said language was invented by black youth for our own empowerment, and is being “unmoored” (bastardized) by those who, per usual, steal black culture and make it into something base, pejorative and negative. I am very well aware that this happens often. It’s not right now and has never been.

    Those who claim to be allies to equality should not be helping white supremacists in this effort by using stolen black youth slang as a pejorative. Carville and whichever liberal bro at Vox baited him should know better. Shame on them both.

    2
  63. andy says:

    @Monala:

    I live in Colorado and am the guardian for my sister who has dementia – so that report really hit home for me and makes me somewhat glad she is institutionalized.

    @Jim Brown 32:

    My wife showed it to me and I immediately thought: WTF isn’t this ALL OVER MSNBC?!?!?!? It would have been a perfect illustration of the lengths police will take in the name of compliance to rough up helpless people.

    It doesn’t fit the narrative that MSNBC is selling. I’m surprised it made national news at all, it doesn’t fit into a neat culture war box and things that don’t fit in that box usually get tossed aside.

    2
  64. James Joyner says:

    @Dude Kembro: Youth language, Black or otherwise, gets stolen by adults all the time and bastardized. Carville is late to the game and, indeed, was asked a question.

    4
  65. Maybe he’s right, maybe he’s wrong. I think that it is just altogether to easy to assert that X offended Y people and therefore it cost Z party votes.

    It seems to me that some set of words is always going to offend some equivalent to Y people and cost Z party votes.

    I am also fairly certain (but will admit that this is intuition) that most people truly upset about “wokeness” vote R anyway.

    I will add that when I was young the complaint was “multiculturalism” and then from then until Trump it was “political correctness” and of late it is “wokeness” as the bane of existence.

    Usually (but not always) the complaint is deployed by someone who wants to uses insensitive language around issues of race, gender, or sexual orientation and usually very little to do with actual liberty.

    I find it all frustrating and tiresome.

    6
  66. wr says:

    @andy: “It doesn’t fit the narrative that MSNBC is selling. ”

    I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: You should actually watch MSNBC for a while before posting these constant refrains. You have decided it’s just like Fox, but on the other side. It isn’t. Which you’d know, if you ever watched it.

    5
  67. Gavin says:

    Obama and Clinton focused on messaging while executing the policies desired by corporations.. and didn’t hold those same corporations accountable for their documented failures. Looking forward not back and all that.

    The most egregious reason Carville’s comments are tone-deaf is because.. it’s not the messaging that’s the problem, it’s the lack of policy substance that’s the problem.

    The essence of King’s poor peoples’ campaign was that it’s all concepts and words until it’s ECONOMIC justice.

    Simply putting a black/asian/latinX person in a position of power isn’t a thing unless that person ALSO promotes policies tangibly benefiting that specific community.. And, frankly, both sides abused the nomination of any BIPOC to the point where the default assumption is that it’s a ruse. Wokeness became a problem because Democratic leadership used that status/affiliation as a proxy for the actual difficult-but-necessary discussion about any specific governmental policy supported by that candidate which benefits a specific economic class.

    Wokeness wouldn’t even be an issue if the discussion about wokeness was followed by a discussion of those policies.. the articles would then be “He awkwardly used XYZ word incorrectly, but then we learned about his willingness to enforce anti-trust legislation, massively increase funding for OSHA inspectors and increase both union membership and the minimum wage, so he’s OK.”

    1
  68. Andy says:

    @Dude Kembro:

    No one controls language, so what you want has never been possible.

    People all over the world are appropriating black youth culture and using it for their own purposes without your (or anyone’s) permission. The fact that they are appropriating black youth culture and not, for example, hillbilly white racist culture is something we ought to be thankful for.

    3
  69. DrDaveT says:

    @mattbernius:

    First, I actually do like the “Yiddish versus Hebrew” analogy.

    So, I honestly came into this article thinking that it would be about how Dems need to think about the interests of American Jews and not those of Israel. It was kind of a nice surprise to find out that no, it was just an analogy…

    (That other article might have been interesting, though.)

    2
  70. Gustopher says:

    I would have thought Carville would have been caught up in some scandal or another by now and we wouldn’t have to hear from him ever again. Sad.

    Getting better with word choice isn’t going to help much when the other side is choosing a different reality. The problem isn’t that our politicians and activists are using words like LatinX, it’s that they are pedophiles molesting children in non-existent basements and harvesting their adrenal glands while banning hamburgers.

    If we want to change our language, we should worry less about alternatives to micro aggressions and more on using phrases like “unhinged fucking moron living in fantasy land.”

    4
  71. Andy says:

    @wr:

    I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: You should actually watch MSNBC for a while before posting these constant refrains. You have decided it’s just like Fox, but on the other side. It isn’t. Which you’d know, if you ever watched it.

    My right-wing friends say the same thing about Fox.

    I’m a professionally trained researcher who can evaluate sources better than most people (thanks to that training) and find all or most of the facts on anything given enough time and energy. And the sad reality is that I have to do that pretty much constantly if I want the full facts and context of any reporting. The problem isn’t just limited to cable news or any single source. The quality of journalism today is, overall, exceedingly bad in the US.

    For the cable networks, I check in on them a few times a year to see if they’ve improved and the answer is always “no.” In fact, they’ve only gotten worse, and not just when it comes to the opinion shows. They are very intentionally catering to specific audiences in terms of what and how they cover the news. From a business standpoint, there is nothing wrong with that. That’s the direction the media has been going for a long time, MSNBC included. But from a journalism and information standpoint, it means that relying on a single source for news will put you in an information stovepipe. IMO none of them are reliable sources of information and are therefore not worth my time. It’s simply easier for me to do my own research rather than try to dissect bad reporting.

    The opinion shows are even worse. The less said about them, the better.

    3
  72. Jim Brown 32 says:

    I will say this–in my uniformed days there were some rather large and newsworthy geopolitical events in the news I had intimate knowledge of…. that would be unethical and/or illegal for me to share outside of approved channels. I will not say news reporting on those events were wrong–but they were missing key bits of information that made the villains and heroes in the stories–not so obvious.

    Its best to not consider oneself fully educated on anything if you’ve only read about it–its wise to leave room for the possibility additional information not reported could significantly change your opinion on said topic. Obviously you know this coming out of Intel–but many people who are inclined to gather info before deciding what they believe do not understand how thoroughly information warfare has permeated the information sphere and how easily they can be manipulated into chasing the wrong droids.

    3
  73. David Kelsey says:

    @Andy: They’re not appropriating white hillbilly culture in this manner, bastardizing it, and using it to attack Democrats because doing so does nothing to damage blacks and advance the cause of white supremacy.

    No, I’m not thankful when — instead of standing up for and with black youth — we once again finding white men on the left running scared and catering to right wing narratives. “Woke” is not a pejorative. Maybe instead of lecturing and pushing back on young black folk yelling y’all that, y’all might try lecturing and pushing back *on the establishmentarians and right wingers stealing, attacking and negativizing black youth slang and culture* in a way that is hurtful and harmful to those you claim to be allied with. Good grief.

    1
  74. Grewgills says:

    David Kelsey
    All slang and any specialized language will be taken out of context and given new context and meaning. It will inevitably be used and misused both by people that mean well and people with bad intentions.
    The woke that most people here are referring to are at least one step removed from the black youth that invented the term.
    As often happens, white youth appropriate black youth culture and older white folks exposure is from the white youth that appropriated the language or other cultural references.
    I think most people here that are anti-woke, are really anti self righteous white kids lecturing them about perceived social wrongs. Some are arguing for what they see as political expediency, some are more old man shouts at cloud.

    7
  75. Raoul says:

    @Andy: For what its worth- Maddow is an unmitigated disaster and she gets the highest ratings. I would suggest she is overcompensating for something- everytime a sex scandal breaks and she spends countless hours covering it in the most lurid details -even when there are no new news. See dailyhowler.com. It’s embarrassing.

    2
  76. Ken_L says:

    Carville is the political genius who opined in September 2016 that the Republican Party was in terminal decline, and it was hard to see how Hillary wasn’t going to win in a landslide. So forgive me for rejecting the idea he has any more insight into American politics than a random Uber driver.

    Kevin Drum wrote the other day that political tragics who infest discussion boards like this one comically over-estimate the interest which normal people take in politics. The vast majority of Americans wouldn’t have a clue what “woke” means and most of those who do, couldn’t care.

    5
  77. @Ken_L:

    The vast majority of Americans wouldn’t have a clue what “woke” means

    I think this is correct. I saw a recent poll that indicated that that was the case, but I don’t remember where.

    I definitely think that the degree to which things like this are really moving the needle at the ballot box is quite low.

    Consider: the Fox News viewer who has been taught the horrors of “wokeness” is almost certainly going to vote GOP. But the relevant variable in that sentence that predicts their likely vote is not their attitude on wokeness.

    2
  78. @Grewgills: Agreed.

    1
  79. Epstein's Mother says:

    It’s not a “cultural assumption” in Spanish that gender is binary. It’s a matter of linguistic grammatical construction. The vast majority an Indo-European languages have gender in the grammatical structure, and the ultimate reason or logic for this is irrelevant. It’s like arguing that it’s unfair that Mandarin has no verb conjugation. The only way “LatinX” would make sense is if that person primarily speaks English — one of the few Indo-European languages that doesn’t use gender for nouns (aside from those that actually have a real-life gender).

    1
  80. @Steven L. Taylor: Correction: it occurred to me later that the phrase I was thinking of was “cancel culture” in the poll, not “woke.”

  81. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I am also fairly certain (but will admit that this is intuition) that most people truly upset about “wokeness” vote R anyway.

    I will add that when I was young the complaint was “multiculturalism” and then from then until Trump it was “political correctness” and of late it is “wokeness” as the bane of existence.

    Usually (but not always) the complaint is deployed by someone who wants to uses insensitive language around issues of race, gender, or sexual orientation and usually very little to do with actual liberty.

    100% this. And thank you for posting this. I do feel like this “controversy” is a great example of old wine in new bottles. I’m struggling to see any real difference in the underlying attacks on all of these terms (and we can probably through “Black Liberation” or “Gay Pride”–among others–onto that pile as well).

    4
  82. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I am also fairly certain (but will admit that this is intuition) that most people truly upset about “wokeness” vote R anyway.

    Most, probably. But the fact is people on the Left who are upset by wokeness don’t talk about it publicly. You underestimate how effective the bullying is. And you underestimate, I think, the reservoir of anger and frustration among people on the Left who believe in free speech, or simply believe that ideas should be debated. It won’t result in voting R, it may result in staying home.

    2
  83. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Andy:
    During Trump MSNBC didn’t have to manufacture outrage, but lately it’s become a thing and as a result I’ve cut my MSNBC time drastically. Political fundraising appeals – email, text and even phone – are leaning harder on triggering fear, and when I see that happen I unsubscribe. I’m almost always a day or so ahead of the fundraising appeals in that I know the story they’re referencing, which makes the appeals insulting as well as manipulative. If I wanted to be uninformed and driven by incoherent rage I’d be a Republican.

    2
  84. @Michael Reynolds:

    And you underestimate, I think, the reservoir of anger and frustration among people on the Left who believe in free speech, or simply believe that ideas should be debated. It won’t result in voting R, it may result in staying home.

    And you may well be overestimating it.

    The reality is, this conversation is almost devoid of data (or even, really, evidence, apart from the way some people feel about certain words).

    I would counter that it is also possible for some previous non-voters to find some of this concern about social justice and racial equity to be a reason to vote. The point being that you, and many others, are assuming that there is only downside for something you don’t like.

    And it is less that I am here defending the “woke” and more that all of this sounds to me like kibitzing and bitching and not a discussion, including Carville’s, based on anything concrete.

    Moreover, there is always some buzzword that is weaponized. Again: multiculturalism, various iterations of political correctness, wokeness, cancel culture, and likely others I am forgetting.

    I recall when “ebonics” was proof of the great scourage of liberal insanity back in the late 80s/early 90s.

    The concerns about Project Self Esteem, values clarification, or situational ethics also all come to mind.

    The Common Core has been used in a similar fashion.

    It is an endless game I don’t like to play (along with, and I think adjacent to all of this, my pet peeve: “kids these days!”).

    Now, if there is some concrete evidence that talking about wokeness is really damaging, say, our ability to govern or is really, truly helping to lead to the ascendency of white nationalism in the US, let’s talk.

    But, honestly, I think it is far more likely that persons who really don’t want to talk about complicated issues would rather just get bent out of shape about the outrage of the moment.

    5
  85. @Michael Reynolds:

    email, text and even phone – are leaning harder on triggering fear, and when I see that happen I unsubscribe.

    Yes–that has driven me crazy and is hardly an incentive, to me, to contribute.

    1
  86. BTW, I will add that yes, strategic communication matters. Politicians have to be aware of this. But I also think that, as someone pointed out above, IIRC, it isn’t like Biden (or most Dems, for that matter) are out there using the “faculty lounge” words (and, BTW, I really wish someone could tell me where that lounge is because I apparently don’t know where ours is).

    2
  87. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Moreover, there is always some buzzword that is weaponized.

    The difference is that this is Blue on Blue. The Red team laps it all up and laughs. The super woke are not the shock troops facing the enemy, they’re the NKVD, safe in the rear, shooting anyone who questions the party line.

    3
  88. mattbernius says:

    But the fact is people on the Left who are upset by wokeness don’t talk about it publicly. You underestimate how effective the bullying is.

    I again feel like this has been the case with, to Steven’s point, “multiculturalism,” “political correctness,” and other past iterations.

    I think the two major differences are that a combination of recording devices and social media has changed the dynamic (i.e. public conversations are far more public than they used to be). And additionally that people who have historically not held much power to drive the conversation suddenly have the real power to do that (for example during political correctness, a lot of minority folks had to sit kinda quietly while their older white liberal colleagues would pontificate about the problems with the designation of “African Americans”).

    3
  89. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The point being that you, and many others, are assuming that there is only downside for something you don’t like.

    I’d proffer that there is an equal tendency from the other side of that consideration, in that a whole lot of folks are assuming that there is only upside for something they do like.

    The broader point is that being myopic doesn’t win elections. If you can’t accomplish that, nothing else you want to do, and none of the reasons you want to do it, matter in the slightest, so maybe it’s worth doing the hard self-examination that Carville is calling for – even if the left doesn’t like what it finds.

    1
  90. @Michael Reynolds: While I am sure that some of this is, as you say, Blue on Blue, I take the broader critique to be the alleged damage that libs cause using words like latinx and woke. Certainly, that what Carville is addressing it with his “faculty lounge” business and his “speak Yiddish not Hebrew” business.

  91. Gavin says:

    I’d rather debate the list of governmental policies promoted by the people who are sufficiently woke.. and compare that to the list of policies supported by those who don’t meet the mark.

    Much less infuriating to have a debate over the appropriate zipcode adjustments for different benefits or the monthly funding level for SSI or the infrastructure needs for different counties etc etc..

    But, of course, if we take the emotion away and worry less about messaging then we have to actually govern..

    2
  92. @HarvardLaw92:

    I’d proffer that there is an equal tendency from the other side of that consideration, in that a whole lot of folks are assuming that there is only upside for something they do like.

    Indeed. But that’s my point: this is all about personal preferences and intuition.

    The broader point is that being myopic doesn’t win elections

    Also true. But I would note that the Dems won ~7 million more votes than Dems nationally. So pretending like latinx wokeness is some major drag on the party seems to lack foundation.

    And, further, congressional contest outcomes are far more about the containers voters are assigned to than a contest about ideas, policies, or vocab words.

    1
  93. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But I would note that the Dems won ~7 million more votes than Dems nationally.

    I’ll assume you meant to say Republicans, and that’s great. Unfortunately, that increase tended to be concentrated in a few areas, and I would argue was driven more by a unified desire to unseat Trump than it was by some doctrinal shift on the part of the electorate.

    Which is why you just barely beat Trump with respect to the popular vote and you lost seats in the House. You took the Senate in what can only be termed a fluke. It’s why you will almost certainly lose the Senate in 2022, and it’s why you stand a decent chance of losing more seats in the House as well (although I think you’ll manage to hold on to control there, holding on by your fingernails).

    The simple fact, which has been noted again and again and again, is that 18% of the population in the US controls 52% of the Senate, and the rhetoric currently being flung around doesn’t just alienate them, it infuriates and motivates them. I’ll certainly concede that the party isn’t driving that rhetoric, but – and here is the important point – it isn’t countering it either. “Defund the Police” might be the dumbest piece of messaging in history. It’s legitimately that bad, and yet the party stood there like deer in headlights, terrified of offending the bombthrowers lobbing it from the fringes. The outcome? Middle America reasonably concluded that the party agreed with it, and with its implications. Own-goal of the worst order.

    You either find a way to walk back from the woke ledge, and get a coherent messaging strategy that isn’t driven by Michael’s college cognoscenti, or you are going to continue to find yourselves pounding your heads on the doors of the Senate and getting nowhere.

    3
  94. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    While I am sure that some of this is, as you say, Blue on Blue, I take the broader critique to be the alleged damage that libs cause using words like latinx and woke. Certainly, that what Carville is addressing it with his “faculty lounge” business and his “speak Yiddish not Hebrew” business.

    Cancel culture, woke and the rest are still primarily confined to the elite bubble, but it’s trending toward the mainstream. We’re increasingly seeing instances of normal people being subject to the Sauron-like gaze of the Twitter mob for thought crimes. If the Democratic party allows this kind of thing to become normalized in its politics, then I think that is going to be a massive own goal. The much more frequent blue-on-blue incidents is just the latest manifestation of the circular firing squad and arguably a result of weak parties and increasingly factional politics.

    As far as data and evidence go, there is data from David Shor (yes, that David Shor) and others showing that the “defund” the police rhetoric, combined with unrest in Portland and other cities hurt Democrats generally last cycle. “Defund the police” is one of those words/phrases that got more traction in the mainstream.

    So I think what goes on in elite spaces does matter a great deal and it puts politicians in a difficult position of having to balance the interests of those elites with the party mainstream as well as a general electorate that is much less interested in politics.

    3
  95. Northerner says:

    @KM:

    Instead, we’re now talking about men worrying about getting murdered for being in a “bad” neighborhood like it’s the same thing. It’s not – as you noted, you feel perfectly comfortable in your home town because the threats to you aren’t there.

    You know that “bad” neighborhoods are in fact home town for many of us men? You’re talking about some middle class suburbia, not the reality that many of us actually live in.

    I agree that a lot of middle class men take safety for granted, and assume it also applies to women. But a lot of middle class women assume their safe neighborhood is the norm and applies to most men. Both are very wrong assumptions.

    There’s definitely white privilege. There’s definitely male privilege. There’s also definitely class privilege (and able-privilege). Its funny how quick people are to see the privileges others have but assume the ones they themselves have are the norm.

    Bad neighborhoods are very common, and many people live in them. And the “bad” extends into the home — B&E’s, shootings that go through walls, even fires from the hot-knifing in the adjacent apartment don’t care about your front door being locked.

    1
  96. Dude Kembro says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    “It’s why you will almost certainly lose the Senate in 2022”

    An assessment totally divorced from reality and yet another example of why Democrats need to stop paying attention to those who cater to right wing narratives bashing “wokeness.”

    Democrats are not defending any Trump state Sebate seat in 2022. Republicans winning the Senate requires them to hold seats in North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin without Trump on the ballot to juice GQP turnout and with several Republican incumbents retiring. Then Republicans also have to flip seats away from popular, strong Democratic candidates in Arizona, New Hampshire, and Georgia.

    The chances of all this happening are next to zero, but you’d only know that if you aren’t brainwashed by right wing talking points.

    The Georgia wins were not a “fluke” either. They were the result of a decade of voter cultivation by many liberal activists — Stacey Abrams being the most well-known — who long argued that the key to victory in trending-purple states was not bending to the right wing woke-bashing cult, but by actually listening to and catering to the actual Democratic base (especially black and youth voters) for once. They were laughed at by the type of white men who undermine black voters with terms like “woke ledge.” Now proved right, they’re told their work was a “fluke.” Because lord knows the agents od white supremacy will do anything except admit they were wrong and black folk were right.

    1
  97. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Dude Kembro:

    I’m sorry, who are you exactly?

    Judging from your prior commentary and your rhetoric here, I’m neither going to take you seriously nor be able to nudge you the slightest bit towards reality, so the best I can give you is: Wait for next November. Odds are you are not going to like it.

    3
  98. Dude Kembro says:

    @Grewgills: Then you should know that when you label yourself “anti-woke” and speak og “wokeness” negatively, the black youth who invented the term don’t know that includes an asterik for us, that you’re drawing some unseen demarcation between us and self-righteous white kids.

    All we’re hearing is that white male Democrats are apparently anti-black youth and have a negative view of our culture, and of a term black youth invented for our own empowerment. And if you think that’s going help you win elections, good luck. This whole comment thread is depressing, angering, disappointing, and has increased my own negative views of white men in the Democratic Party, from my perspective as young, queer black guy.

    So hopefully you’ll pick up the Trump voters you desire instead as a trade-off, because I’m not going to keep voting for a party that won’t stand up for me and my peers. Maybe that’s Carville’s grand strategy.

  99. Dude Kembro says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I’m someone who, unlike you, knows where Senate seats are being defended in 2022 and where they are not. Who are you???

    You’ve already made it clear you’re a purveyor of lame right wing conventional wisdom who doesn’t take black people seriously, you don’t need to say so explicitly. It doesn’t make your inane, fact-free assessment of the 2022 Senate race any less inane.

    You might be a legend in your own mind, but rest assured: I really don’t need you to take me seriously. Get over yourself lol

  100. Neil J Hudelson says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    “You’re new, therefore I won’t consider what you wrote,” the Lucille Bluth counter, just isn’t very effective. Not when his argument was cogent.

    Perhaps you can defend how it’s “almost certain” that Republicans will win the Senate, and explain how the Georgia Senate seat was a fluke?

    4
  101. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Dude Kembro:

    because I’m not going to keep voting for a party that won’t stand up for me and my peers.

    Who else are you going to vote for, exactly? The Greens? Libertarian? Stay home and pout? By all means shoot yourself in your own feet based on some narcissistic inability to see that the world doesn’t revolve solely around either you or your demands. That’ll show us …

    This is why we don’t take you and folks like you seriously.

    2
  102. @HarvardLaw92:

    It’s why you will almost certainly lose the Senate in 2022,

    The Dems (not me) will almost certainly lose the Senate in 2022 because of the structure of how seats are allocated and the way state boundaries were drawn back in the day.

    The above cannot be emphasized enough, because it is fundamentally and foundationally true.

    How well Democrats deal with wokeness or cancel culture will be an utterly peripheral issue as it pertains to that fact.

    2
  103. @Andy:

    As far as data and evidence go, there is data from David Shor (yes, that David Shor) and others showing that the “defund” the police rhetoric, combined with unrest in Portland and other cities hurt Democrats generally last cycle. “Defund the police” is one of those words/phrases that got more traction in the mainstream.

    That’s fair–but that is specific and has at least some evidence behind it.

    The general conversation in this thread (to include Carville’s interview) is all about instinct and personal preferences. It may be fun to talk about, but the degree to which it means what it purports to mean is a different matter.

    1
  104. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Ok, Steven, you win. Absolutely nothing about woke culture will be the slightest bit problematic for Democrats in 2022 or 2024. Everything will be roses and sunshine, and you’ll win elections on that policy foundation forever. I’m not going 500 rounds with Never Wrong to get nowhere.

    1
  105. Neil J Hudelson says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Never Wrong

    Pot: Hey Kettle, man, you’re looking awfully black today.

    5
  106. Dude Kembro says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    “Who are you going to vote for?

    This is why we don’t take you and folks like you seriously.”

    It’s unsurprising that a pompous blowhard who refers to himself as “we” is also arrogant enough to tell blacks who push back on negative misappropriation of black-invented language that we have no choice who to vote for and that we are terrible people for refusing to tolerate our alleged allies bending to said misappropriation.

    I forget: only white people who hate “wokeness” are perfect, good, get to make demands of and threaten to withhold votes from the Democratic Party. The rest of us have to shut up and do as we’re told, or else we’re awful people. And besides, what other option do we have except to serve our Harvard faculty lounge betters?

    If the Democratic base fails to show up in 2022, it will be because Democratic candidates depressed, disappointed, and alienated that base by catering to the ugly rhetoric and arrogant attitude of phonies like you. I think Democratic candidates will be too smart to do so. I hope so anyway.

    1
  107. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Neil J Hudelson:

    You’re entitled to your opinion.

    1
  108. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Dude Kembro:

    Says the guy who presumes to speak for all black folks …

    I think you and I are done. Have a nice day.

    2
  109. @HarvardLaw92:

    Ok, Steven, you win. Absolutely nothing about woke culture will be the slightest bit problematic for Democrats in 2022 or 2024. Everything will be roses and sunshine, and you’ll win elections on that policy foundation forever. I’m not going 500 rounds with Never Wrong to get nowhere.

    All well and good. But the position I am taking isn’t that it doesn’t matter. The position I am taking is that no one here is providing any evidence apart from personal intuition and preference.

    If you want to win an argument, bring some evidence.

    And also, don’t straw man me, because I didn’t say this, not even close:

    Everything will be roses and sunshine, and you’ll win elections on that policy foundation forever.

    I mean, I stated that it is probable that the Dems lose the Senate in 2022. But the main reasons have precious little to do with wokeness or cancel culture.

    2
  110. @Neil J Hudelson: Indeed.

  111. Dude Kembro says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Well I have cause to, as most black folks who read this thread are likely to agree with me that Democrats should spend more time focusing on its own base turnout and less time catering to right wing narratives: you are the one using “we” without cause, not me. Please do not project your delusions of grandeur onto me. Thanks!

  112. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Neil J Hudelson:

    Perhaps you can defend how it’s “almost certain” that Republicans will win the Senate, and explain how the Georgia Senate seat was a fluke?

    Sure. Incumbent presidential parties always face an uphill battle in midterm elections. Dems start the cycle with that millstone around their neck. Beyond that, they enjoyed a unique turnout bump in 2020 due to anti-Trump sentiment (for which I’m grateful, but he’s gone now, so that motivator is gone as well).

    Kelly barely won against a uniquely insane opponent. He’s likely to face Ducey, Ward, or Biggs. My money is on Ducey winning the primary, and I believe he’ll unseat Kelly.

    Warnock – see above. He’s likely to be sent home, especially if Walker runs.

    NC – Open seat, but you failed to take an NC Senate seat in 2020 with the wind behind you. Less likely that you’ll pull that one off this time around, especially if Dems are dumb enough to nominate Cooper for the seat.

    PA – Most up in the air, but the Dem primary is going to be an enormous circular firing squad. Too many candidates vying for the seat, and they’ll use up most of their firepower destroying each other. PA GOP is more disciplined historically. I expect that they’ll coalesce around a candidate (my money is on Braithwaite or Kelly).

    This all presumes that Chris Sununu doesn’t challenge Hassan in NH, which will upend her otherwise likely hold.

    Short version: the winds are against you going in. That’s why.

    2
  113. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Dude Kembro:

    The error there is to assume that most of the Democratic base thinks like you do. I assure you that they don’t. I don’t disagree with you that the base needs to be motivated. I disagree with you about what will and will not motivate them. Yours is the arrogance of youth, mine is that of age and experience.

    As for African Americans reading this thread, Ask Jim Brown if he agrees with you about how to motivate the Democratic base.

    1
  114. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But the main reasons have precious little to do with wokeness or cancel culture.

    Should I file that one under personal intuition or preference? Just asking.

    1
  115. Neil Hudelson says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Great analysis. I agree with most of it.

    I would note that none of the reasons you cited have to do with wokeness or cancel culture.

    4
  116. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    I would note that none of the reasons you cited have to do with wokeness.

    It’s buried in there. The data I have seen make it pretty clear that “Defund the Police” hurt Dems in 2020. Likewise riots, which fairly or not got linked to the party in the context of implicit support for them.

    From my chair, the WokeFolk seem to be waning, despite certain media outlets on both sides desperately trying to keep pushing the narrative for as long as possible, so there is a decent chance that their tripe won’t exert as much of an effect in 2022. For the sake of the DP’s chances in those elections, I legitimately hope that continues to be the case.

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  117. @HarvardLaw92:

    Should I file that one under personal intuition or preference? Just asking.

    No, you can file under the literal tens of thousands of words that I have written on this site about the way the electoral and party system works. (And some published work).

    And you can even include some of the points you yourself made about historical trends and which seats are up.

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  118. @HarvardLaw92: Are you so interested in scoring a cheap points against me that you are going to ignore both where I agreed with you and your own analysis?

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  119. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Since I’ve been invoked. No. Jim Brown believes the turnout model has wrung every possible bit of juice out of the orange. We wouldn’t be talking about turnout if Karl Rove hadn’t figured out that persuasion and wooing Dem voters was old news and the way forward was turnout as many of your people as possible. I believe we are at a similar inflection point where the next party to innovate and perfect a persuasion model and steal voters who actively support or are sympathetic to the other party (which Biden did with “Biden Republicans”)–will be the Party that wins enough consecutive election cycles to fundamentally set the future course of this nation.

    I acknowledge that Dude Kembro owns the majority Community opinion on this. However, the majority often misses when the nature of the fight has changed–and fights the last battle. Trumps increased minority support over 2016 is a indicator that he recognized this–but did not have enough time to craft the right message to get the right margins he needed nationwide. He did have the right message for Florida and was able to keep Biden’s South Florida margins below 60%–a stunning underperformance given what we know about Trump.

    What I think Progressive on the turnout train will find– is that Democrats will learn the same lesson Republicans did when Hillary wasn’t on the ballot: Its hard to generate massive turnout when there isn’t a certifiable villain on the ticket.

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  120. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    That comment neither referred to you nor quoted you in anyway. Didn’t have a thing to do with you at all. I generally don’t like and avoid you, sure (that’s more of a dislike and avoid academics in general thing) , but I legit don’t have the slightest idea where this came from.

  121. Grewgills says:

    @Dude Kembro:
    If you read what I wrote rather than assuming what I mean, you’d know that I’m not anti-woke. I’m simply explaining what, unfortunately, happens to language when it escapes its initial context.
    I’ve spoken in other comments about this happening to academic language. It happens to all language. From at least the 1960s and probably earlier a lot of white kids want to emulate and often end up appropriating black youth culture. Then older white folk see it through the lens of younger white folk, rather than within it’s original context.
    I understand that old white men yelling at clouds can be annoying and make you consider staying home on election day. You should understand that most of the old white men that are pissing you off here are at least 85% allies and the only way anything positive for any disadvantaged group happens in US politics is with the help of people like them. So, your options are purity, or accepting that some of your allies are going to piss you off now and again. Either ignore it, or attempt to educate, but don’t stay home.

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  122. Andy says:

    @David Kelsey / Dude Kembro::

    Your comments suggest a binary where anything that doesn’t actively defend the cultural roots of “woke” in its original meaning, as you define it, is a right-wing narrative that must be opposed.

    My point is you can’t stop people from appropriating culture and language. The meaning of words changes over time. Woke was originally used in the 1960s before I was even born, so it should not surprise anyone that its meaning and use changed in the last 60 years. Just look at how the word “liberal” changed over the course of the last century for a relevant example.

    I don’t like it when words are suddenly twisted into novel meanings in service of political expediency, but I understand that it’s something I cannot stop. And when using language, I have to deal with the meaning of words as they exist in the real world as used by other people, and not the meanings I prefer.

    And you’re frankly not going to get very far in convincing people by berating them, especially the people here who probably agree with you 90% on political issues.

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  123. @HarvardLaw92:

    I generally don’t like and avoid you, sure (that’s more of a dislike and avoid academics in general thing) , but I legit don’t have the slightest idea where this came from.

    It seemed to be a pretty clear thread above.

    I know you don’t like to be challenged, which perhaps explains your dislike for academics.

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  124. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    We share that tendency. Oil and water, don’t mix, which is why I generally avoid your postings. (I didn’t realize this was one until I’d already waded in or I wouldn’t have).

    To be honest, I tend to view all academics through the lens of my freshman Latin professor. Arrogant, ensconced in a perception of elitism and superiority predicated on status obtained within an artificial, largely meaningless microverse, convinced that the world revolves around their chosen field and would cease to spin without their work being in it. Being a relatively big fish in a small, essentially meaningless pond can skew one’s sense of importance to the point where they believe they don’t shrink when they venture outside of it.

    I’m well aware, of course, that I can be equally arrogant. You don’t get to be what and where I am by being cuddly and lovable, and I make no pretense of being either of those. I’m just self aware enough to acknowledge it.

    Your posts have always come across to me as exercises in that vein – “I will now demonstrate that I’m smarter than you”. Seeking acclamation, not discussion, if you will. I didn’t care for it from Rev Holier Than Thou, SJ, and my reaction to it hasn’t improved with age. In any case, as I said I wandered in by mistake, so I’ll wander out a tad more deliberately. Enjoy your lecture

  125. Grewgills says:

    HarvardLaw92

    To be honest, I tend to view all academics through the lens of my freshman Latin professor. Arrogant, ensconced in a perception of elitism and superiority predicated on status obtained within an artificial, largely meaningless microverse, convinced that the world revolves around their chosen field and would cease to spin without their work being in it.

    That you of all people in this little microverse can level that criticism at an entire group of professions and at this particular person is honestly breathtaking.
    Steven doesn’t come across as smug, condescending, arrogant, or looking for acclaim over substantive discussion. You on the other hand, well I haven’t seen another commenter or contributor on this site that better fits that characterization.

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  126. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Grewgills:

    Your opinion is noted and will be given the consideration it merits

  127. @Grewgills: Thanks for the support.

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  128. @HarvardLaw92: I suppose the thing I will endlessly find amazing about your approach to these kinds of conversations is that your alleged disdain for the academy is wholly undercut by your moniker, which plays entirely on the academic prestige of your law school. Beyond that, your approach to argumentation and discussion is some combination of “I am right because I am a successful attorney (because you like to tell us so), and BTW have you noticed my username?”

    But the best part about this most recent conversation is that even when I agreed with you on substantive points, you didn’t find this to be some way in which to find at least a little common ground for discussion, or even a chance to try and make a case for why your position made more sense than mine despite the agreement. This is the best part because it shows you are more interested in winning the interchange than you are in having a discussion/having a legitimate argument.

    You have done this before. I have even demurred to your expertise in the law, on the assumption that you understand it more than I do. I have tried to respect your perspectives. That someone disagrees with you on a political discussion board should be, well, expected to a degree, yes? Quite honestly, as a co-proprietor of the site, I like having you around, even though you are often annoying because you have a different perspective than many of the regulars.

    One would expect that your legal training and successful career would give you the tools to engage in an actual argument.

    Instead, you engaged in ad hominem, a term I suspect you might have learned from your arrogant Latin professor. You don’t like me, so it became about me, not about anything else.

    All well and good, and I will certainly not engage with you in the future lest I upset you further. I continue to suffer under the assumption the commenters are interested in interchange.

    (And yes, there is a comment above wherein I linked to the wrong comment–but the overall thread is pretty clear, in my opinion–but I apologize for any confusion that may have caused).

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  129. Northerner says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    To be honest, I tend to view all academics through the lens of my freshman Latin professor. Arrogant, ensconced in a perception of elitism and superiority predicated on status obtained within an artificial, largely meaningless microverse, convinced that the world revolves around their chosen field and would cease to spin without their work being in it. Being a relatively big fish in a small, essentially meaningless pond can skew one’s sense of importance to the point where they believe they don’t shrink when they venture outside of it.

    How many academics have you met? I suspect your sample size is very small. I know quite a few academics (mainly engineering and physics professors), and all of them are very easy going, unassuming people who tend to be if anything more humble than your average person.

    That’s especially true of the physicists, who make a great distinction between a few greats — Einstein, Newton etc and the run of the pack physicists such as themselves. They’re also extremely hesitant to say anything is true (as opposed to only best current understanding) no doubt because the transformation from Newtonian mechanics to quantum mechanics and relativity left a mark on the confidence of physicists on pronouncing things true.

    And the engineering professors are always apologizing for having gone straight into academia instead of spending a decade or two working in industry. I suspect the same is true for most other professional and scientific colleges — its seen as a failing to not have worked in their fields before going into academia.

    1
  130. Andy says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Wow, professors tend to be professorial and lawyers tend to be lawyerly, who knew?

    From my perspective, I value the contributions of both you and Steven as you both very often make good points without the usual internet debate BS. So it’s disappointing to see you engage in some of that internet BS here. Interpersonal conflicts aside, Steven is consistently an honest interlocutor, a rare quality these days.

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  131. @Andy:

    Wow, professors tend to be professorial and lawyers tend to be lawyerly, who knew?

    Indeed.

    And thanks for the kind words.