The Middle Ain’t Woke

The average American is neither progressive nor all that interested in politics.

politics outrage shouting

The discussion thread on my post “The Narrative of the ‘MSM Narrative” inevitably turned to the issue of “liberal bias” and where the center is in American politics. While I agree with several commenters that the elite press has an establishment bias when it comes to a lot of economic issues, I contend that it has a progressive bias on social issues that is to the left of even the Democratic base.

Several recent articles shed some light on this.

An op-ed in yesterday’s NYT by Freddie deBoer, pointed out to me by @Sleeping Dog in the aforementioned thread, argues that “Democratic Socialists Need to Take a Hard Look in the Mirror.” It’s useful because it’s in the category of admission against interests. That is, deBoer is himself a democratic socialist who would very much like to see that set of policies enacted. Nonetheless, he argues,

it’s time for young socialists and progressive Democrats to recognize that our beliefs just might not be popular enough to win elections consistently. It does us no favors to pretend otherwise.

What too many young socialists and progressive Democrats don’t seem to realize is that it’s perfectly possible that the Democratic Party is biased against our beliefs and that our beliefs simply aren’t very popular.

They frequently claim that Americans want socialist policies and socialist politicians but are prevented from voting for them by the system. Or they argue that most American voters have no deeply held economic beliefs at all and are ready to be rallied to the socialist cause by a charismatic candidate.

[…]

So many on the radical left whom I know have convinced themselves that their politics and policies are in fact quite popular on a national level, despite the mounting evidence otherwise.

As New York magazine’s Sarah Jones put it over the summer, “Should Democrats mount a cohesive critique of capitalism, they’ll meet many Americans where they are.” We are held back, the thinking frequently goes, not by the popularity of our ideas but by the forces of reaction marshaled against us.

But the only way for the left to overcome our institutional disadvantages is to compel more voters to vote for us. Bernie Sanders’s two noble failures in Democratic presidential primaries galvanized young progressives and helped create political structures that have pulled the party left. They also helped convince many of a socialist bent that only dirty tricks can defeat us. In the 2016 primary, the superdelegate system demonstrated how undemocratic the Democratic Party can be. Mr. Sanders won every county in West Virginia, for example, but the system at the time ensured that Mr. Sanders did not receive superdelegates in proportion to his vote totals (many superdelegates defied the wishes of the voters and supported Mrs. Clinton). In 2020, it was widely reported that after Mr. Sanders’s victory in Nevada, former President Barack Obama had an indirect role as the minor candidates in the primary rallied behind Joe Biden to defeat the socialist threat. There is little doubt that the establishment worked overtime to prevent a Sanders nomination.

But the inconvenient fact is that Mr. Sanders received far fewer primary votes than Mrs. Clinton in 2016 and Mr. Biden in 2020. He failed to make major inroads among the moderate Black voters whom many see as the heart of the Democratic Party. What’s more, he failed to turn out the youth vote in the way that his supporters insisted he would.

Whatever else we may want to say about the system, we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that the voters of the liberal party in American politics twice had the opportunity to nominate Mr. Sanders as their candidate for president and twice declined to do so. If we don’t allow this to inform our understanding of the popularity of our politics, we’ll never move forward and start winning elections to gain more power in our system.

This may be seen as a betrayal of the socialist principles I stand for, which are at heart an insistence on the absolute moral equality of every person and a fierce commitment to fighting for the worst-off with whatever social and governmental means are necessary. But I am writing this precisely because I believe so deeply in those principles. I want socialism to win, and to do that, socialists must be ruthless with ourselves.

The idea that most Americans quietly agree with our positions is dangerous, because it leads to the kind of complacency that has dogged Democrats since the “emerging Democratic majority” myth became mainstream. Socialists can take some heart in public polling that shows Americans warming to the abstract idea of socialism. But “socialism” is an abstraction that means little without a winning candidate. And too much of this energy seems to stem from the echo-chamber quality of social media, as young socialists look at the world through Twitter and TikTok and see only the smiling faces of their own beliefs reflected back at them.

Socialist victory will require taking a long, hard road to spread our message, to convince a skeptical public that socialist policies and values are good for them and the country. Which is to say, it will take decades.

From my perspective, which is probably mildly left-of-center but certainly well to deBoer’s right, the move in the direction of democratic socialism seems inexorable. And it would be moving much faster absent the undemocratic nature of our institutions, which not only over-represents rural conservative voters but also gives them effective veto power over major change. But I absolutely agree that the appetite for radical, rather than incremental, change is over-estimated by too many in the media and Democratic politics.

A column by the Intercept’s Ryan Grim from Monday, “IT’S NOT JUST WHITE PEOPLE: DEMOCRATS ARE LOSING NORMAL VOTERS OF ALL RACES,” pushes back at the notion that recent wins by Republicans are mostly a function of racism. It’s based on a recent focus group session held by a Democratic polling firm. It’s difficult to excerpt but here are some useful snippets:

What Barefoot found is that while the women agreed with Democrats on policy, they just didn’t connect with them. When asked which party had better policy proposals, the group members overwhelmingly said Democrats. But when asked which party had cultural values closer to theirs, they cited Republicans.

The biggest disconnect came on education. Barefoot found that school closures were likely a big part of their votes for Youngkin and that frustration at school leadership over those closures bled into the controversy, pushed by Republicans, around the injection of “critical race theory” into the public school setting, along with the question of what say parents should have in schools. One Latina woman talked about how remote school foisted so much work on parents, yet later Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee and former governor, would insist that parents should have no input in their children’s education. (That’s not exactly what he said, but that’s how it played.) As she put it: “They asked us to do all this work for months and then he says it’s none of our business now.”

The anger they felt at Democrats for the commonwealth’s Covid-19 school closure policy became further evidence of a cultural gap between these working people and Democratic elites, who broadly supported prolonged school closures while enjoying the opportunity to work remotely.

[…]

The culture war is not a proxy for race, it’s a proxy for class. The Democratic problem with working-class voters goes far beyond white people.

Now, for the portion of the Republican base heavily predisposed to racial prejudice, the culture war and issues like critical race theory easily work as dog whistles calling them to the polls. But for many voters, and not just white ones, critical race theory is in a basket with other cultural microaggressions directed at working people by the elites they see as running the Democratic Party. Take, for instance, one of the women in Barefoot’s focus groups. When asked if Democrats share their cultural values, she said, “They fight for the right things and I usually vote for them but they believe some crazy things. Sometimes I feel like if I don’t know the right words for things they think I am a bigot.”

Barefoot’s results rhymed with the conclusions of a memo put out by strategist Andrew Levison, who has long made the argument that Democratic efforts at connecting with working-class voters are fundamentally flawed. The memo, published after the Virginia election but not directly responding to it, looks at how Democrats can win support among a growing number of anti-Trump Republicans. Rather than convince the entire white working class — which is typically approximated in polls by looking for white voters without a college degree — Levison argues that Democrats should “identify a distinct, persuadable sector of the white working class” and then figure out how to get members of that specific group to vote Democratic.

[…]

AT THE END of Barefoot’s focus group, the women were asked if they’d have considered changing their vote if Democrats had passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill. The bill, which was passed by the House the following week, is something that Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat, has claimed would have helped win the election for McAuliffe.

Ninety-one percent of the suburban women said no, 9 percent said yes, and one woman laughed and said, “What does that have to do with anything?”

[…]

Broadly, Jacobin did not find evidence to support the Great Left Hope that if the masses would turn out in full at the ballot box, they’d eagerly support democratic socialists candidates and policies. “Many working-class voters in advanced economies have actually moved to the left on questions of economic policy (favoring more redistribution, more government spending on public goods, and more taxation of the very wealthy), while remaining culturally or socially moderate,” they write. They contrast this from where mainstream Democrats have gone: left on culture while “tempering their economic progressivism.”

There’s a whole lot more to the piece, which is a bit rambling, and the discussion about the distinction between “extremists” and “cultural traditionalists” is interesting. But the above makes the points relevant to this particular conversation.

Finally, John McWhorter’s column in yesterday’s NYT declaring “‘Woke’ Went the Way of ‘P.C.’ and ‘Liberal’.” It’s primarily a discussion about the evolution of language but the relevant bit it this:

“Woke” has also followed a trajectory similar to that of the phrase “politically correct,” which carried a similar meaning by the late 1980s and early 1990s: “Politically correct,” unsurprisingly, went from describing a way of seeing the world to describing the people who saw the world that way to describing the way other people felt about the people who saw the world that way. Some in the politically correct crowd on the left had a way of treating those outside it with a certain contempt. This led to the right refashioning “politically correct” as a term of derision, regularly indicated with the tart abbreviation “P.C.” The term faded over the years, and by 2015, when the presidential candidate Donald Trump was declaring that “political correctness is just absolutely killing us as a country,” “woke” already had greater currency.

Over the past few years, it has become all but impossible to use “woke” neutrally. It has been refashioned, like “P.C.,” as an insult. One could say that this was simply because of contempt for leftist ideas, even ones relating to improving lives for Black people, but only at risk of oversimplification. Wokeness, as a kind of ideology, has irritated so many because of the tendency for some of its partisans to see those who dissent from their views as disingenuous, antidemocratic and even immoral. To be woke, past tense, is to be awake, present tense, to a way of perceiving societal matters. But it’s a short step from seeing matters this way to assuming that it is the only reasonable or moral way to see. That latter assumption has a way of rankling those who see things differently.

A lot of the pushback in yesterday’s thread demonstrated this. Why, the liberal perspective on abortion and LGBTQ issues was simply common sense and decency whereas the conversation approach is simple bigotry. That attitude is, frankly, a barrier to achieving the desired changes.

Even people like my wife, who was raised as a Democrat and has probably never even considered voting for a Republican, is beyond tired of some of the manifestations of woke culture. In the latest example, her youngest daughter, a college freshman at George Mason, is required to attend regular sessions on various “sensitivity” issues. Tuesday night, they railed on how racist a beloved kids book, Skippyjon Jones (written in 2005!) was. Granting that “cultural appropriation” wasn’t a thing sixteen years ago, this is just an absurd example to focus on in such a session. It’s not like there aren’t more pressing issues of racial injustice in our society.

With respect to trans justice, @SKI posited that the “consensus” view being pressed by the elite media was simply that,

1. Transgendered people exist.

2. We shouldn’t make their lives miserable.

3. We shouldn’t ostracize them out of society.

4. We should respect people enough to call them what they ask to be called.

Now, that happens to be where I am on the issue. I think it’s where Jo Rowling is on the issue. While the polling is all over the place, it mostly indicates that the public is there as well, with younger people being considerably more comfortable than we over-50s. Even Republicans, by overwhelming majorities, tell pollsters that trans people deserve equal treatment under the law, including protections from employment and housing discrimination.

But I see the press being further to the left than that, taking as a given that people, including young children, should be considered fully whatever sex they proclaim to identify as at any moment the moment they make that proclamation. (I would add and if you don’t agree, you’re morally indistinguishable from those who operated the gas chambers at Auschwitz but that perhaps exaggerates things a skosh.)

There, public attitudes are more divergent:

Democrats (87%) remain about twice as likely as Republicans (43%) to favor allowing openly transgender service members in the military; both groups are essentially unchanged from the 2019 poll. Political independents, meanwhile, have become less supportive than they were in 2019 — down 12 percentage points. Still, two in three self-identifying independents favor allowing openly trans people to serve.

[…]

Support for transgender Americans’ right to serve in the military is down at least slightly among all age and gender groups, though all groups maintain majority levels of support. Adults younger than 50 remain more in favor than adults aged 50 and older, and women remain more in favor than men.

[…]

At the same time a solid majority of Americans endorse transgender military service, they favor restrictions on transgender athletes’ ability to play on teams that correspond with their gender identity. The issue is being debated in dozens of state legislatures, and five U.S. states have banned transgender girls, who were born male, from playing on girls’ sports teams.

A majority of Americans (62%) say trans athletes should only be allowed to play on sports teams that correspond with their birth gender, while 34% say they should be able to play on teams that match their gender identity.

Among party, gender and age subgroups, only Democrats (55%) express majority support for transgender athletes’ ability to play on teams matching their gender identity.

[…]

On one hand, strong majorities of Americans have supported transgender people’s right to openly serve in the military. Viewed alongside support for allowing openly gay and lesbian people to serve in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” era, it’s fair to say that most Americans believe that people who want to defend and fight for the U.S. should be allowed to, regardless of their identity.

On the other hand, the increasing rate of trans-identification among U.S. youth is challenging norms in ways that many Americans are not ready to question. Americans were split in separate polls taken in 2016 and 2017 on restroom policies for transgender people. With policies for interscholastic sports teams now gaining traction in state legislatures, the public leans against allowing these athletes to join teams of their gender identity. This opposition, juxtaposed against public support for transgender military service, suggests transgender sports participation may be seen as more of an issue of competitive fairness than of civil rights.

The only quality survey I readily found with intra-party breakdowns is four years old, so a bit dated on a fast-evolving issue. Still, it’s a useful data point:

The survey also finds that Democrats with a bachelor’s degree or more education are more likely than other Democrats to say a person’s gender can be different from the sex they were assigned at birth. About three-quarters (77%) of Democrats with a bachelor’s degree or more say this, compared with 60% of Democrats with some college and 57% of those with a high school diploma or less. No such divide exists among Republicans.

Democrats’ views also differ by race and ethnicity. Some 55% of black Democrats and 41% of Hispanic Democrats say a person’s gender is determined by their sex assigned at birth, a view shared by just 24% of white Democrats.

[…]

Roughly seven-in-ten Democrats with at least a bachelor’s degree (72%) say society hasn’t gone far enough in accepting transgender people, compared with 54% of those who did not complete college. There is no education gap among Republicans.

White Democrats (68%) are also more likely to say that society hasn’t gone far enough in accepting transgender people, compared with 46% of black Democrats and 50% of Hispanic Democrats.

The bottom line here is that people who write and comment on political blogs, much less those who cover politics for elite media, are simply different. We’re almost invariably college-educated, with a shockingly large number of us having graduate or professional degrees. We spend an inordinate amount of time engaging with new information about these issues. (Indeed, anecdotally at least, this was true of the people I knew in the conservative media and think tank complex in my Washington days. They were much more open-minded on these issues than the party base.)

A final point worth noting here is one raised by @Matt Bernius late in the thread: “the utter erosion of firewalls between editorial and the newsroom-in particular in TV and web journalism.” For a variety of good and understandable reasons, younger reporters at elite outlets have zero patience for the “objective” stance that was the hallmark of the professionalization of American journalism. They’ve rightly rejected the High Broder “both sides” approach that gave the false impression that the scientific debate on climate change, to take one example, was closely contested. But they’ve gone further and adopted the attitude that anything other than an all-out offensive in support of progressive values is tantamount to treason.

Whatever the virtues of that stance, it will almost certainly backfire. Not only does it ensure that Republicans and their media infotainment complex are constantly supplied with fresh fodder to stoke the base, it will alienate a lot of working-class and over-50 Democrats in the process.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Gender Issues, Media, Public Opinion Polls, 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. MarkedMan says:

    There is immense damage done to progressivism done by progressives who seem to have no empathy to white men, or poor whites, or, for that matter, any white person who disagrees with them.

    I make an ongoing complaint about the Republican Party in that they often talk about outreach to minorities but their idea of outreach consists 100% of “educating” those minorities about why Republicans are correct, and 0% asking them about what matters to them and trying to help or at least find common ground. There are way too many progressives that behave in exactly the same way to white people, and especially white men.

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  2. Sleeping Dog says:

    @MarkedMan:

    …no empathy to white men, or poor whites, or, for that matter, any white person who disagrees with them.

    It is a great strategy, to promote your agenda by alienating a large subset of voters whose support you need to further that agenda. Sheeech.

    This morning there are several news articles on Dem plans to fight back against R attacks on CRT, to which I say, about time! With trepidation. Having listened to Dem messaging I fear that this will only make the situation worse, but hope spring eternal.

    As a follow-up to yesterday’s MSM post here at OTB, Jonathan Last has a reconsideration up this AM, where he points the fickle finger of fate at Twitter.

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  3. Scott says:

    I read the DeBoer piece yesterday and came away with the impression that he was more interesting in being called Democratic Socialist rather than any specific policies.

    And I think I would apply that same idea across the political spectrum. Everything today seems to be a brand, a label, a posture, a pose, all of which is more important than the actual real policies and goals that people say they want or even what people say they are. Evangelical Christians are more interested in being called Christians than the actual theology. Those who call themselves patriots wave the flag and pose and deny that others who disagree actually love their country also. There are groups who insist on using Latinx or POC without regard to what actual people consider themselves to be.

    Not sure how to get out of this morass but there are days I just want people to shut up and just do.

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  4. Cheryl Rofer says:

    That the New York Times will host Freddie deBoer and that James Joyner will quote him at length proves that both are way over on the “conservative” side of the road.

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  5. Cheryl Rofer says:

    Seems to me that all this condemning of “wokeism” (whatever that is – care to define it?) is just another way of saying “We white guys want to be in charge again. Underlings should shut up and do what we tell them.”

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  6. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog: A good tactical response to “But all lives matter!”, is “Of course they do! Why would anyone say differently? Because of this recent event we are focusing specifically on police shooting black people right now, but we will absolutely fight against injustice or prejudice committed against anyone, and that includes you and your family. In fact, that’s what it means to be a progressive.”

    Usual response: “That’s a racist comment that at best shows you are ignorant and at worst a white supremacist. I am just exhausted having to educate you lazy and ignorant people about your own shortcomings.”

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  7. MarkedMan says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    proves that both are way over on the “conservative” side of the road.

    And? What’s your point? If someone is a Conservative their ideas can be dismissed, their opinions don’t matter, their concerns are unimportant and unworthy of respect?

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  8. MarkedMan says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Thank you for making my point so eloquently.

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  9. JohnMcC says:

    Well, uhmmm…. There are lots of polls over many years that show ‘liberal’ policies more likely to get approval than the alternative when both are spelled out in non-partisan language. I picked just one to link to but its both typical and recent:
    https://thehill.com/policy/finance/573868-poll-from-liberal-group-shows-more-voters-in-key-states-back-35t-bill

    The question really is the place where cultural issues split from and overpower policy issues. And the R-party has been dominating there for years, at least since the R’s absorbed the Dixiecrats. It was a staple of southern ‘resistance’ (“OUR CULTURE!”) and was an old thread when Pat Buchanan made hay with it. So, yep.

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  10. Cheryl Rofer says:

    @MarkedMan: No, just that James is claiming a “liberal” bias on the part of the media.

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  11. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Alternately, perhaps the white guys share the goals and would like to push a few forward. Perhaps white guys can bring insight to how to speak to and enlist other white guys.

    @MarkedMan:

    Yup

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  12. Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Then perhaps they should shut up and listen, rather than telling others to do that?

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  13. Thomm says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: how about this example? Crapping on the election of the first Asian woman mayor elected to run Boston so that some activists can vent their feelings: https://mobile.twitter.com/NPR/status/1460678118834900992

    By the replies, there is broad condemnation if this across party, racial, and gender lines.

    Would we have seen a report about how Asian activists feel about Wu losing?

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  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    I’ve been trying since I first started to have run-ins with progressives in kidlit six years ago, to get it through their heads that they were coming off like arrogant, entitled assholes who would end up damaging the causes they and I believed in. Here and elsewhere I’ve made the point about a thousand times that progressives were out of touch with the country outside of faculty lounges, and that the incessant hectoring and condescension were deeply self-destructive.

    And here’s @Cheryl Rofer: offering this:

    “We white guys want to be in charge again. Underlings should shut up and do what we tell them.”

    as the single bullet theory to explain resistance to the far left.

    What a stupid remark. What a dishonest remark.

    I have a transgender daughter and a Chinese daughter and, like most parents, my overriding goal in life is to protect them, to see that they have good lives. I need my kids to be safe. Oh sure, my super secret goal is to make sure that white men rule the world, but being nominally Jewish I’m not that welcome at the secret meetings.

    Christ.

    There could be no better display of the attitude that alienates millions of potential allies and will end up ushering in an era of fascism in this country. Arrogant fucking academics, always so cocksure, always so utterly right about everything. Except how to get votes. Losing votes, that they’re good at. Brilliant at losing votes.

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  15. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Well I guess if you want to continue to lose, keep making enemies.

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  16. MarkedMan says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: You’ve made it eminently clear that you don’t think white men deserve a seat at the table. Of course, those who actually disagree with your opinions on the issues aren’t asking your permission. So bottom line, you are telling potential allies to literally sit down and shut up while their betters do the talking.

    Like the Republicans mentioned above, it seems that you care less about moving your issues forward then lecturing and haranguing those you consider your moral and intellectual inferiors.

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  17. JKB says:

    James, Newsweek’s Batya Ungar-Sargon, who is on the left, is opening discussions of where your post ended up while promoting her book, “Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy.”

    “What I found when I started looking into this is, why do we think we’re so polarized if we’re not polarized? It’s because journalists are actually waging a culture war on their own behalf and it’s much more about class than it is about politics or race,”

    “This whole polarization is an elite phenomenon and I think it’s just so important to keep that in mind and, you know, have a lot of humility about that because in a way like we’re creating this ecosystem that benefits us, you know, but it’s not actually reflective of the people who need us to actually be speaking on their behalf,”

    Those quotes are from a Federalist Radio Hour podcast, but if that is too triggering, I’m sure those hear can find her discussing the topic in a venue less upsetting.

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  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    This morning there are several news articles on Dem plans to fight back against R attacks on CRT, to which I say, about time! With trepidation. Having listened to Dem messaging I fear that this will only make the situation worse, but hope spring eternal.

    Oh, it will almost certainly make things worse. “If you would just do the assigned reading, then come to the seminars. . .”

    I’ll repeat what I said here a few days ago: academics suck balls at changing hearts and minds. The left owns all the creatives – you know, the people who are actually good at changing hearts and minds? But instead the people driving the issues bus are in tenured jobs, at the top of hierarchies, living in posh college towns, speaking their own obscure and impenetrable language, in a bubble of intellectual clones.

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  19. Kathy says:

    Even Republicans, by overwhelming majorities, tell pollsters that trans people deserve equal treatment under the law, including protections from employment and housing discrimination.

    So what?

    Talk is cheap, and tolerant opinions are en vogue, and have been for a while. What it comes down to is actions, not words. Thus far, Republican actions fall like 180 degrees away from their words. Not just about gender identity, but also as regards race and other things.

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  20. SKI says:

    A few thoughts…

    1. Using “woke” is, like “politically correct” before it and “CRT” after it, a pretty good sign of a bad faith argument. Whatever its origin, it was lampooned and used so broadly as to be meaningless except as a signal that you oppose those dirty hippies (whoever they are today). The conservative activists and media have been quite open about their goals – labelling anything bad as “woke” or “socialism” or “CRT” or whatever they want to denigrate today.

    2. “Jo Rowley”? Did you mean J. K. Rowling? If so, you are flat out wrong. She absolutely does not want to extend respect or inclusion. She has been very clear about that.

    3.

    But I see the press being further to the left than that, taking as a given that people, including young children, should be considered fully whatever sex they proclaim to identify as at any moment the moment they make that proclamation.

    I’d suggest that someone who appears to imply that trans individuals change what gender identity they are repeatedly or lightly is arguing in bad faith and not being honest or respectful.

    All in all, I’m having problem taking your post or protestations seriously, James. You don’t appear interested in actually having a good faith discussion, just mocking and name calling.

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  21. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    A friend who is former Trotskyite, points out that a great number of the woke left are little Maoists, whether they know it or not. So yes, to the reeducation camps.

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  22. Stormy Dragon says:

    While I agree with several commenters that the elite press has an establishment bias when it comes to a lot of economic issues, I contend that it has a progressive bias on social issues that is to the left of even the Democratic base.

    The elite press can both have an establishment bias and be to the left of the general public on social issue.

    The establishment is not the general public.

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  23. mattbernius says:

    @MarkedMan:

    There is immense damage done to progressivism done by progressives who seem to have no empathy to white men, or poor whites, or, for that matter, any white person who disagrees with them.

    I challenge you to find any point in American history where this was not a popular critique of progressives and in particular BIPoC progressives.

    @MarkedMan:

    A good tactical response to “But all lives matter!”, is “Of course they do! Why would anyone say differently? Because of this recent event we are focusing specifically on police shooting black people right now, but we will absolutely fight against injustice or prejudice committed against anyone, and that includes you and your family. In fact, that’s what it means to be a progressive.”

    Usual response: “That’s a racist comment that at best shows you are ignorant and at worst a white supremacist. I am just exhausted having to educate you lazy and ignorant people about your own shortcomings.”

    Call. Can you point me to actual examples of progressives who lead with the second point. And then can you show the amount of power they have within the movement.

    Because most of the BLM activists and allies, not to mention progressive politicians, I know spent most of the summer saying that first thing you said over and over and over again. So if the are following your advice and it’s not working, at what point is it a sign that maybe the messaging itself isn’t working and the people who repeatedly keep asking “Why isn’t All Lives Matter?” might not be asking the question in good faith.

    I guess my point is that “progressives” have become a strawman in a lot of people’s mind.

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  24. Cheryl Rofer says:

    Talk about overreaction! Here is what I said:

    Seems to me that all this condemning of “wokeism” (whatever that is – care to define it?) is just another way of saying “We white guys want to be in charge again. Underlings should shut up and do what we tell them.”

    According to some here,
    “What a stupid remark. What a dishonest remark.”
    ” You’ve made it eminently clear that you don’t think white men deserve a seat at the table. ”

    Here’s some empathy: When you lose some of your power, it can feel like being excluded.

    And a saying that resonates with women:
    Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.

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  25. Stormy Dragon says:

    @JKB:

    Batya Ungar-Sargon, who is on the left

    [Citation Needed]

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  26. gVOR08 says:

    Finally, John McWhorter’s column in yesterday’s NYT declaring “‘Woke’ Went the Way of ‘P.C.’ and ‘Liberal’.”

    If you read all of McWhorter’s column he kind of gets to what has really happened. “Liberal” was a perfectly good word for a hundred years. People were happy to be called liberal and the meaning was well understood. Then GOPs and FOX “News” succeeded in twisting the meaning into something extreme and turned it into an insult. Dems, being Dems, didn’t do any organized pushback to reclaim the word and instead started using the archaic term “progressive”, like Teddy Roosevelt. The GOPs and FOX did the same thing to “progressive”, making it seem to be the leftist fringe. “P.C.” was mostly a matter of courtesy, call people what they want to be called. And GOPs and FOX twisted it into meaning something extreme. And now they’re doing the same thing with “woke”. And if Ds take to calling themselves the “Apple Pie” party, in a couple years GOPs and FOX will have made Apple Pie out to be something extreme and evil.

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  27. mattbernius says:

    @JKB:

    Newsweek’s Batya Ungar-Sargon, who is on the left, is opening discussions of where your post ended up while promoting her book, “Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy.”

    Two points, first, anyone who has been following Batya’s career over the last few years will question the application of “on the left” to her. See for example:

    For a representative example of the new script, consider two pieces that Batya Ungar-Sargon—the former opinion editor of the Forward, who is now deputy opinion editor for the increasingly right-wing Newsweek—wrote this week for the extremely lucrative Substack of fellow culture warrior Bari Weiss. Ungar-Sargon, who as recently as three years ago presented herself as a progressive and a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, has reinvented herself as a right-winger; days before the election, she spoke at the National Conservatism Conference in Florida, which represents an emerging strain of right-wing thought pioneered by figures like Yoram Hazony. The conference’s website describes national conservatism as “the best path forward for a democratic world confronted by a rising China abroad and a powerful new Marxism at home. We see the rich tradition of national conservative thought as an intellectually serious alternative to the excesses of purist libertarianism, and in stark opposition to political theories grounded in race.”

    Emphasis mine.

    Additionally, I find it funny that you’re recommending we listen to a modern humanities Ph.D. (from Berkley?! With a degree is “Comparative Literature”?!)–a class whom you normally appear to hold in what appears to be the greatest contempt. Or perhaps your aversion to the Ph.D. has more to do with whether or not they agree with your views versus the degree itself.

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  28. mattbernius says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.

    Cheryl, I am appalled that you would make such as statement. You are clearly not taking my delicate feelings as “a nice guy who has never killed a woman” and clearly think that at any moment I will snap and kill a woman with no good reason.

    Why can’t you rephrase that in a way that accounts for my feelings and fragilities?! Where is your empathy?!

    Let me show you how I can do a much better job expressing what you are trying to say in a way that doesn’t risk offending men… 1/10946

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  29. Raoul says:

    I don’t believe for a second with the proposition that the press is to the left of the four principles you stated and would would like to see evidence supporting that assertion. Show me a column from someone in the MSM media supporting gendering of young children for example.That said, as you alluded, TG righters tend to be loud (and obnoxious) and that may have colored your perception.

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  30. mattbernius says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Alternately, perhaps the white guys share the goals and would like to push a few forward. Perhaps white guys can bring insight to how to speak to and enlist other white guys.

    Alternatively, moderate white guys have been saying exactly this for generations. And in the last 30+ years of national politics, they have yet to actually deliver on that promise.

    And all the while, the various gaps (wealth, life expectancy, incarceration, etc) between whites and BIPOC folks continue to at best stay the same, in and many cases grow wider. Which is causing a lot of BIPOC people to question how well “color-blind” legislation and policies are actually working.

    At some point, it would be great if those white guys finally delivered on that promise.

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  31. mattbernius says:

    Oops, forgot to source that quote earlier. Here’s a link to the article it comes from: https://jewishcurrents.org/the-rights-war-on-wokeness-in-virginia

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  32. Michael Reynolds says:

    @mattbernius:

    Alternatively, moderate white guys have been saying exactly this for generations. And in the last 30+ years of national politics, they have yet to actually deliver on that promise.

    Bullshit. In the last 30 years we’ve gone from fa**ot jokes on nationwide TV to widespread acceptance not just of gay rights, but of gay marriage and adoption. We’re adapted to the entire concept of transgenderism. We have far more women in high office, we have far more Blacks in high office, we have far more gays and Hispanics and every other minority in every entertainment product. There are women flying combat aircraft in war zones. A Black man is at the top of the military chain of command. A Black/Asian woman is vice president. We’ve pushed back on police brutality and would have done more had white progressives not turned BLM into Antifa kicking in windows.

    This is one of the things that turns people off on progressives: no progress has ever been made, ever, ever, ever until Generation Woke burst upon the scene to rescue us.

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  33. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    points out that a great number of the woke left are little Maoists

    True. But I don’t think it’s limited to the left. There is a certain type of person whose primary motivation is to present as morally superior to everyone, and who get off on lecturing and haranguing people. This type of person is present in every single group and their target is invariably other members of the group, because no one else will put up with their bullshit. The way they get people to quietly accept their diatribes is to make it about orthodoxy.

    Every group has such people. JC himself bemoaned the tools parading around in sack cloth and ashes. I’m sure even Q adherents have their own version of holier than thou. The thing to remember is that their primary motivation is only peripherally related to what they are lecturing about. It’s really about the love of being a scold.

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  34. Michael Reynolds says:

    @mattbernius:

    From the Economist. (Links not working)

    AT THE turn of the twentieth century, a newborn white American could expect to live for around 48 years. That was 15 years longer than a newborn African-American could expect. Improvements in hygiene, medicine and other public-health measures led those numbers to rise dramatically. By mid-century, life expectancy for African-Americans had nearly doubled, to 61 years, while for white Americans it rose to 69. By 2017 the gap had narrowed further, to three and a half years: 75.3 for African-Americans, 78.8 for whites. But Hispanic Americans outlive them both, to an average of 81.8 years. In other words, both races have progressed significantly, but gaps remain. This same pattern exists across a number of metrics.

    So, not a widening gap but a narrowing one.

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  35. mattbernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    This is one of the things that turns people off on progressives: no progress has ever been made, ever, ever, ever until Generation Woke burst upon the scene to rescue us.

    Remind me where I said that?

    And yet, for all that progress–apparently thanks only to white people–the majority of white folks vote Republican and have since Reagan. I will say that more turn out for Democrats when we run a white Man as the president than when we ran a Black man or a Woman.

    So perhaps, what it really takes is just making sure that we keep running white candidates. Which if that’s the case, let just come out and say it. That progress is allowed so long as we’re empathetic enough to ensure that everything is race netural enough so that white men’s gradual decline towards actual equality in terms of sharing cultural power is unseen enough to be more like boiling a frog.

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  36. Stormy Dragon says:

    @mattbernius:

    One important thing to note: the Newsweek that we all new growing up has not existed for a decade. The organization currently calling itself Newsweek bought the rights to the name and is actually tied to an fundamentalist Christian group

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  37. Scott F. says:

    I’m again struck by the asymmetry of this debate on messaging & tone. Freddie deBoer writes:

    If we don’t allow [the rejection of Sanders the last two cycles] to inform our understanding of the popularity of our politics, we’ll never move forward and start winning elections to gain more power in our system.

    But I am writing this precisely because I believe so deeply in those principles. I want socialism to win, and to do that, socialists must be ruthless with ourselves.

    Can someone point me to any articles where radical conservatives are insisting they have to be ruthless with themselves in order to win elections? Polling and the election results deBoer cites indicate that mainstream Republican political positions are even less popular than socialist ones, but the GOP Messaging & Tone Police seem to be taking a very hands off approach with their own right now. And the consensus is that Republicans hold the upper hand in the upcoming midterms, so I guess GM&TP think the hands off approach is working for them.

    Michael Reynolds has suggested that is because conservatism is defending what is, while liberalism is driving toward what may be and therefore the same rules don’t apply to both sides. I think there’s something to that, but I believe there is something to be gained by challenging some of the assumptions here. Being overly cautious in messaging doesn’t seem to be working for liberalism.

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  38. mattbernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    I think you are probably looking at this one:
    https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2021/05/20/over-the-past-century-african-american-life-expectancy-and-education-levels-have-soared

    I completely agree that I was wrong about life expectancy rates. And I’m glad to see that.

    I will also note that if you look at the rest of the graphs, while things have improved for Black Americans, there are still pretty hefty gaps across the board (in fact the subheadline is “But racial gaps across these and other indicators remain wide”). But those are just the small details.

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  39. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.

    Absolutely right. Except that when I would say this very thing to woman in decades past it was denounced by women, as sexist. But here’s the thing, Cheryl, you know who else is afraid a man will kill them? Men. Because the kill ratio is roughly 4 to 1.

    My wife and I have both had guns to our heads. (Well, face in my case.) And guess what? In both cases it was a guy holding the gun.

    Men are far less likely to graduate college, far more likely to have reading difficulties, far more likely to commit suicide, or become drug addicted, far more likely to spend time in the system. Women outlive men in this country by about five years, which does not suggest that we’re exactly hunting women for sport.

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  40. MarkedMan says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I recognize this argument is going nowhere but just for the record my response of “ You’ve made it eminently clear that you don’t think white men deserve a seat at the table” was not directed at the post you linked to, but rather the one where you said, “ Then perhaps they should shut up and listen”. “They” referred to white men.

    So, white men deserve a seat at the table, but only to listen, not to speak? Once again, thank you for so eloquently illustrating my point.

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  41. Michael Reynolds says:

    @mattbernius:
    I don’t deny there are gaps, Matt, I never deny facts. But to pretend that there have not been major improvements for women, Blacks, Hispanics, gays and trans, is absurd. Almost all of that has been driven by the Democratic Party and if I’ve read my stats correctly, there are actually more white men voting D than there are Blacks in toto.

    President-elect Joe Biden has white men to thank.

    Two years ago, I wrote that Democrats and progressives needed to appeal to white men and address the problems particularly of non-college educated white men. Although the party may not have been so explicit about what the problems of this population are and the ways in which they would tackle them, at least at the presidential level, Democrats were successful in winning many of them over.

    Donald Trump made gains among virtually every other demographic — Black men and women, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and even white women. The one significant demographic in which his support cratered compared to 2016 was among white men, who make up more than one-third of the electorate. Biden made an impressive 11 percentage point gain among white, college-educated men and a 6 percentage point gain among white, non-college educated men, supposedly Trump’s core constituency.

    That link it to a USA Today column, sorry but until the blog kids give me the little linky thing, I can’t link. Now, obviously: USA Today. But the numbers are right. The left lost ground with Black, Hispanic, Asian voters, and white women, and gained ground among the despised white males. So, if I may adopt the reductive style of the day: white men stopped Trump.

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  42. MarkedMan says:

    @mattbernius: A lot of those gaps decrease and some even disappear when we categorize by income rather than by race. Which points to a harsh but very real lesson, it matters a heckuva lot more if we get poor people out of poverty than if we convince the middle class that they are bigoted. To paraphrase Hillary Clinton – “F*ck hearts and minds. Actual laws change peoples lives.”

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  43. Jon says:

    @MarkedMan: Yes, because being asked to sit back while historically silenced voices finally get to talk is an existential threat. Christ, honkeys need to get the fuck over themselves.

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  44. James Joyner says:

    @gVOR08:

    People were happy to be called liberal and the meaning was well understood. Then GOPs and FOX “News” succeeded in twisting the meaning into something extreme and turned it into an insult. Dems, being Dems, didn’t do any organized pushback to reclaim the word and instead started using the archaic term “progressive”, like Teddy Roosevelt. The GOPs and FOX did the same thing to “progressive”, making it seem to be the leftist fringe. “P.C.” was mostly a matter of courtesy, call people what they want to be called. And GOPs and FOX twisted it into meaning something extreme.

    While I think your general point is right, it’s worth noting that Fox News did not exist as an entity until October 1996—almost exactly 25 years ago. “Liberal” and “PC” had been turned into slurs well before then. I absolutely agree that a lot of it is messaging. But the point that McWhorter is making, that I highlighted with my excerpts, is that they were aided by sneering condescension on the part of liberal elites.

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  45. mattbernius says:

    @mattbernius:

    And yet, for all that progress–apparently thanks only to white people–the majority of white folks vote Republican and have since Reagan. I will say that more turn out for Democrats when we run a white Man as the president than when we ran a Black man or a Woman.

    Oops, I got that wrong, it isn’t since Reagan… It’s been since Nixon.

    While whites continued to favor the Republican candidate in 2020—as they have in every presidential election since 1968—it is notable that this margin was reduced from 20% to 17% nationally.

    This leads one to seriously ask if LBJ underestimated the impact of the 1964 Civil Rights act. Instead of just “[losing] the South for a generation,” it appears that Democrats have lost the white vote for multiple generations.

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  46. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Just to expand on what Michael is saying, most people, the vast majority of people elect leaders who they feel will benefit them. Starting out with a message, “I don’t give a shit about you, shut up and sit down while I take care of this other group”, is, putting it mildly, non-productive.

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  47. MarkedMan says:

    @Jon: So, just to be clear, any concerns I may have will be ignored. You are literally stating that you will work against my interest. Of course I won’t vote for you, or consider you an ally. You have clearly made yourself my enemy. Good for you.

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  48. Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Ah yes, “All lives matter.” “Men’s lives matter.” We’ve heard this before.

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  49. Jon says:

    @MarkedMan: Wow.

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  50. Jay L Gischer says:

    As a guess, based on statistics, I would expect @Cheryl Rofer to have endured countless meetings and/or casual conversations where she has had her statements ignored, talked over, or later adopted and claimed as their own idea. And all by some white guy.

    So, I get where all that anger comes from. And I get it because I’ve spent a lot of time reading and listening to the complaints of women. Feminism is not a new idea for me.

    AND, I don’t think feminism calls me to silence. In fact, I don’t think you are calling me to literal silence.

    “shut up and listen” is such a great example of how we talk to each other these days, because it’s so hyperbolic and non-literal. Saying something that makes an emotional connection that isn’t so hyperbolic and/or non-literal is much harder work. It demands that you reveal something of yourself. It takes more time, or words. It really seems worth it to me. Every person emulates the powerful and so if a kind of speech gets lots of clicks and lots of reshares, that makes it seem powerful, and that kind of thing gets repeated. But the clicks and reshares are from like-minded people, so they are elevating remarks that encapsulate their feelings, not scoring them for outreach.

    But then, what is speech for? I care about outreach. But that isn’t universal. I’ve had a lot of pushback here on it. People aren’t all here for the same reason. And outreach is hard. People change very slowly.

    Like Michael, I have a trans daughter. She is dear to me. When I speak to others about trans people, I am happy to hold their discomfort with the phenomenon, because once upon a time I held that same discomfort. I worked through it. I don’t feel it now. But should I judge that discomfort, or help someone through it? That’s a different place. I was not the injured party, which makes this easier for me.

    I make it a point to never ask a person who has been directly injured to change their manner of speaking about their injury, though if asked, I might make a recommendation. But for advocates, I would say, stories about “this thing happened” or “here’s something I learned” work much better than “you’re terrible”.

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  51. mattbernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    But to pretend that there have not been major improvements for women, Blacks, Hispanics, gays and trans, is absurd. Almost all of that has been driven by the Democratic Party and if I’ve read my stats correctly, there are actually more white men voting D than there are Blacks in toto.

    I’m not questioning the increases. I am calling out that gaps remain in most cases, and in many cases they are still rather stable.

    In terms of turnout, it is completely correct white men delivered more votes in toto, as they make up a larger percentage of the population. And you are 100% correct that improvements with White Men were critical with bringing Biden across the finish line. More details: https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2021/06/30/behind-bidens-2020-victory/

    Guess, I can see how what I’m writing might read that I think that Democrats should ignore white men. That isn’t my goal. Generally speaking, I think Biden ran a really good campaign in terms of inclusive messaging. Its more that I think we need to see that at the national level, Democrats are more of a coalition party than the Republicans and that creates a tension where we have to find ways to bridge various intra-group conflicts. And that for a lot of BIPOC folks in the party base, they feel like they are the ones that are always asked to compromise.

    Summoning up some empathy, perhaps we all have to acknowledge that in compromise, in most cases each side feels like they are always the ones who have to give up more.

    @MarkedMan:

    A lot of those gaps decrease and some even disappear when we categorize by income rather than by race.

    Again, call. Can you find actual statistics that back up that claim? Because I’ve looked and I’ve yet found ones where the gaps significantly decrease or disappear when controlling for poverty.

    I’m not doubting they are out there, but I haven’t found them (which is one of the things that has greatly colored my evolving views on this topic.

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  52. Mu Yixiao says:

    2 points

    1) In the quoted articles, I’m seeing a lot of “We need to convince people to vote for us because we’re right” rather than “How can we better represent the people who share our values but still vote for the other guys?”

    2) I have said, over and over, that Democrats could make massive gains in rural and suburban areas if they stopped trying to push the bleeding edge in policies or “try to be more like Europe.”

    When progressives (Democratic Socialists), keep preaching about “free” this-and-that, the working class looks askance and mutters “TANSTAAFL“. And when someone pipes up and asks “How are you gonna pay for that?”–a question they, themselves, get asked all the time–the answer is either “tax the rich!” or a condescending pat on the head and a “oh.. you wouldn’t understand”.

    There are so many topics where Democrats are shooting themselves in the foot. It’s a little better at the state level, and even more-so at the local level (where, around here, almost all elected positions are non-partisan), but at the national level, it’s self-destructive.

    It’s nice to hear someone else agree.

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  53. MarkedMan says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Very well said

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  54. Slugger says:

    What I don’t get, what many of us liberals don’t get is why the stereotypical white guy isn’t more liberal. For me it started during the Vietnam War when “hard-hats” supported the war. It seemed obvious to me that they were compliant cannon fodder while the scions of the upper classes avoided service. This has continued to the present. As Michael Reynolds pointed out a few comments ago, they are likely to be victimized. The USA has a higher Gini coefficient than other first world nations. The enormous wealth generated by the last two generations has gone to an ever smaller elite. Parental leave, healthcare, and retirement plans that are common in the EU are off the table here. To us liberals religion, sexuality, and race are chaff thrown up that distracts white men from the reality that their share of the good things is being eroded. Americans work more hours than 24 western European nations; why aren’t they upset? I don’t have any answers.

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  55. Michael Cain says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    And when someone pipes up and asks “How are you gonna pay for that?”–a question they, themselves, get asked all the time–the answer is either “tax the rich!” or a condescending pat on the head and a “oh.. you wouldn’t understand”.

    When the very first Green New Deal resolution came out in the House, it was amazing how much of the content was directed to “We won’t have to raise taxes or borrow to pay for this, we can simply print money.”

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  56. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    But instead the people driving the issues bus are in tenured jobs, at the top of hierarchies, living in posh college towns, speaking their own obscure and impenetrable language, in a bubble of intellectual clones.

    We both agree and disagree here. I don’t think academics are actually driving the issues or even trying to drive the issues. CRT, to take the latest example, is part of a larger inside discussion and existed for decades without much impacting the public debate. About the only part that really got out was “intersectionality,” which is a fairly benign and obvious-when-you-think-about-it concept. The backlash, which was certainly cultivated, was really against commercial bastardizations of it like White Fragility and Anti-Racism rather CRT itself.

    Where we agree is where we intersect with James Carville: the invocation of insider jargon in the public debate is often counterproductive. The example I constantly cite is “privilege.” As an academic, I understand the concept and, even as one who grew up relatively conservative socially, I think it’s valuable for elite discussion. But even a Democrat-leaning member of the white working class will rightly tell you to eff off if you tell him he’s privileged and will likely punch you in the face if you tell him to “check your privilege.” It just doesn’t work outside the “faculty lounge.” (I’ve never worked in an institution that had one of those, incidentally.)

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  57. Michael Reynolds says:

    Underlying this moment, both here and in the national conversation, is the fact that progressives are paper tigers IRL. Their theory was that huge numbers of Americans wanted to hear a class-based and race-based approach to politics. Turns out: nope. Bernie ran twice, was amazingly well-financed, beautifully organized, an incumbent Senator and a pretty darned good communicator, and he lost. Badly. Twice. Progressives couldn’t even elect a mayor of Portland or New York City, FFS.

    Biden leaned heavily into the progressive policy agenda and now he’s sitting at 40% with his balls in Joe Manchin’s pocket. Progressives are on the defensive because of their own stupid mistakes: Defund, LatinX, cis-gender, the hypocritical adoption of racialist framing, the naiveté of ‘intersectionality’, the ambivalence (at best) about free speech, the campus activists attacking any speaker not 110% behind 110% of the agenda, the triggering and the safe spaces, the endless neologisms that must be instantly adopted, all the endless demands that people ‘listen,’ and ‘believe.’ Utterly self-defeating attacks on real or potential allies.

    Who took Bernie off the board and put Biden in the WH? Black voters in South Carolina. But hey, what would someone like Jim Clyburn know about race? I mean, has he even attended a single sensitivity training session? Huh? Has he done all the assigned reading?

    But still, the same tired song: we need better messaging! Yes, we do. But not from the educational elite of Park Slope and Berkeley, thank you very much.

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  58. john430 says:

    But the only way for the left to overcome our institutional disadvantages is to compel more voters to vote for us.”

    This overlooked remark tells the true story of “progressives” and is reminiscent of their forbears, the National Socialists, when they say, “Ve haff vays to make you KKKo-operate”

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  59. Slugger says:

    After I made my comments above I came across the following:
    https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/mcnaughton.jpg
    This is an example of anti-woke thinking, I guess. It doesn’t seem reality based to me. Again, I don’t get it.

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  60. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @MarkedMan: Or…more eloquently– Amen! Including the Black ones!

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  61. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:
    The problem is that there is no longer any barrier between what is theorized in the academy, and the public.

    Look, I don’t want academics to stop theorizing. I’m a big fan of education, despite having none myself. But we need to stop pretending innocence when a theory migrates from university down the educational ladder to where the parents are and shit blows up. The left needs to stop this automatic deference to the educational elite while reflexively dismissing or attacking any contrary opinion, even – actually, especially – a contrary opinion voiced by an ally.

    When ‘Defund’ became a thing I suspect 90% of liberals knew it was a disastrous mistake, but to question the holy meme is to be called a racist. And unlike conservatives who seem to take pride in that label, we don’t. Because we aren’t. What we are is consequentialists: we care about actual people in the the real world, and we are trying to protect the people that we as Democrats are meant to protect.

    If progressives want more currency, more political power, they could try and do something useful and accomplish that. In real life. The left owns San Francisco, lock, stock and barrel. So why are there thousands of homeless people in SF? Why can’t they fix that? They’re really good at renaming schools and adopting euphemisms at a rate that shames the Pentagon, but not even a little bit competent at dealing with people living on the sidewalks of a fabulously wealthy progressive city.

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  62. Michael Reynolds says:

    @john430:
    Shhh, the adults are talking.

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  63. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner: Caveat about FOX accepted, conservatives have been demonizing liberals since, well, since there were liberals and conservatives.

    Serendipitously, over lunch I found, via Tom Sullivan at Digby, a 2006 piece by one Dave Johnson that says well what I’ve been trying to get across above and in earlier comments.

    I’ve tended to react to complaints that the Democrats don’t do messaging well by saying there is no such thing as THE Democrats. Or, for that matter, THE Republicans, but that thanks to the Kochtopus, saying THE Republicans is closer to the truth than THE Democrats. Johnson makes a useful distinction between THE Republicans and THE conservatives.

    It is not the Republican Party, it is the “conservative movement” infrastructure that does the selling. It is the Heritage Foundation and the (oh-so-many) other marketing/communications think tanks. It is the anti-tax and anti-government organizations. It is the Christian Right organizations. It is the corporate lobbying groups that would be selling it. It is the right-wing media that would be selling it. Rush Limbaugh and 100 other radio talk-show hosts would be selling it. Fox News would be selling it. The Drudge Report would have headlines about it. The think tanks would be dispatching 100 pundits to the TV news shows to be selling it. The Ann Coulters and the Cal Thomases and Jerry Falwells would be selling it. There would be professionally-crafted op-eds in every newspaper selling it. There would be an organized letter-to-the-editor campaign selling it. There would be e-mail chain letters selling it. There would be anonymous posts on internet sports forums selling it. There would be PR firm-produced-and-placed YouTube videos selling it. There would be strategically-placed MySpace friends selling it. They would ALL be selling it, in concert, using the same polled-and-focus-group-tested talking points, repeating the same message over and over and over… But they are not the Republican Party.

    While useful, I think the distinction between Republicans and the Conservative Movement is less clear than it was. I am of the opinion that the whole Tea Party thing was part of the Kochtopus takeover of the Party. But the important point is that while liberals have think tanks and MSNBC and the Sierra Club, like all both-sides, there’s a matter of degree. Dems have nothing approaching the scale of the Kochtopus, nor do liberal organizations have anything like the coordination provided by interlocking boards, circulating personnel, and most importantly a well coordinated smallish number of major donors.

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  64. Barry says:

    I’ve dealt with DeBoer on a couple of blogs, and his credibility is zero. He’s just a hideous extension of a Bernie Bro.

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  65. Andy says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Here’s the disconnect I’m seeing:

    Seems to me that all this condemning of “wokeism” (whatever that is – care to define it?) is just another way of saying “We white guys want to be in charge again. Underlings should shut up and do what we tell them.”

    But then when it comes to “white men”:

    Then perhaps they should shut up and listen, rather than telling others to do that?

    My view is that no one should be told to “shut up and listen” and that such attitudes are not only counterproductive but also contrary to the pluralist democratic principles necessary for our society to function.

    Furthermore, sound arguments, reasoning, and moral clarity can stand on their own and be judged on their own merits. They do not rise or fall based on the gender, skin color, or other intrinsic attributes possessed by those making the arguments. And that is even more true of moralistic overly-broad judgments made about large and often arbitrary demographic groups.

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  66. mattbernius says:
  67. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I think you’re putting more at the liberals’/progressives’ feet than deserved.

    Biden is having trouble because he appears weak for a number of different reasons (I’d put the beginning at the Afghanistan pull out because of how much of a disaster it appeared to be. Yes, it was an unfair portrayal of what happened, but people shouldn’t get into politics to be treated fairly or they’re going to be really disappointed). Once that starts happening, then people (like Sinema and Manchin) will take advantage of that weakness, making him look weaker, and then you got a positive feedback loop.

    Furthermore, progressive wing of the democrats have been making concessions all along, so it’s not like they’ve been driving this metaphorical car into the ditch.

    Of course, I don’t mean to imply that progressives have a lot to work to do on themselves, quite the opposite.

    But I did want to point out that you wrote earlier about some of the left’s messaging misfires, including defund the police and the like, but then write off messaging as a problem. So maybe working on messaging isn’t such a bad place to start.

    That said, I believe the problem is more encompassing than just “messaging”. The left needs to be able to make the argument that their policies will help people, and that if they do have a financial cost, how the policy is worth the cost. They also have to be able to differentiate themselves from the republicans and do it in a way that they don’t sound like patronizing jerks (to put it gently). And doing so with a touch of empathy might go a long way.

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  68. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    “We white guys want to be in charge again. Underlings should shut up and do what we tell them.”

    And ultimately, isn’t that what people who are saying “that Democrats should ‘identify a distinct, persuadable sector of the white working class’ and then figure out how to get members of that specific group to vote Democratic” are admitting? (Of course, they could be talking about Democrats needing to rediscover their inner George Wallace, I suppose. 🙁 )

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  69. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: We’re talking JKB here, who’s NOT on his left?

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  70. Sleeping Dog says:

    @gVOR08:

    Something that I keep hoping one of these deep pocketed liberals would do is create a local media enterprise similar to Sinclair. In keeping with liberal beliefs, the news would be reported honestly, but run special reports that highlight how progressive programs are helping and can help the locality. As has been pointed out by others here, if progressive ideas are going to resonate in deep red states, those citizens will need to understand the benefit to them

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  71. Monala says:

    My extended family has had monthly Zoom get-togethers since early in the pandemic. Most of the participants are the middle-aged members of my generation, with the older generation (our parents) and the younger generation (our kids) popping in periodically to say hello.

    As a whole, my extended family is moderately liberal. But during a recent call, one of my cousins said something using words that weren’t very PC or “woke.”

    When the call was over, my teenage daughter, who was in the same room, asked why I didn’t challenge my cousin on what he said. I shrugged at the time, because I hadn’t thought about it. But in hindsight, it’s for two reasons: first, it was a minor comment and the discussion went past it quickly. I would have derailed the conversation had I said something.

    Second, my cousin is a kind individual, and his comment (which I don’t remember now) struck me at the time as one reflecting a heart in the right place but poor wording.

    I’ll give you an example of this. Remember the 2008 movie, Swing Vote? In it, Kevin Costner plays a working class white guy of whom the outcome of the presidential election comes down to him. (The electoral college is tied, with the electoral votes of one state—New Mexico—remaining to be counted. And NM’s votes are tied, but Costner’s character has a chance to re-vote because his ballot ripped when going through the scanning machine).

    Reporters are eager to figure out how he will vote, so they ask a bunch of questions to try to get him to reveal it. One reporter asks him whether he supports the idea of same-sex marriage. Costner’s character responds, “well, yeah! Why shouldn’t two guys get to be kings of their castle together, even when they’re a pair of queens?”

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  72. steve says:

    1) Is there anyway to tell a woke person that they might be wrong? I dont see much of this where I work but I know it will come eventually. Is there any room for discussion? At least on line I certainly dont see it.

    2) Shut up and listen. That pisses people off, but sometimes I do that and benefit from it, but only if there is give and take afterwards. We sense here is that what you really mean is “do what I say and accept it without argument”. Ok, that worked, sort of, in boot camp. I, and lots of other people, will be inclined to do the opposite of whatever you say if that is your attitude.

    3) Do the woke even care about outcomes? Seriously! Is there any evidence that what you do changes how people behave, act or believe, especially for large groups. I can certainly see the woke forcing their opinions some places and getting some outcome they want but I think they create a lot of enemies in the process.

    Steve

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  73. Scott says:

    @Monala: You did exactly the right thing. You do this not just with family but also neighbors and friends. People say stupid things all the time, mostly out of habit and not malice. Most of the time a raised eyebrow is enough or a hmmm. And most of the time the offender knows it also. No need to add additional shame to the mixture.

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  74. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Can you go into more detail on this point. The closest that I was able to find was that Newsweek is owned by IBT, but I don’t know of any links between IBT and fundamentalist Christian groups. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any links, only that I’m an ignint cracker with some modicum of curiosity.

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  75. EddieInCA says:

    I’m Latino. LatinX pisses me off. I mean REALLY pisses me off.

    Not neccessary. Not helpful. Period. Full stop.

    Same with “cis”. Cis-male. Really? Not helpful.

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  76. Kurtz says:

    @MarkedMan:

    A lot of those gaps decrease and some even disappear when we categorize by income rather than by race. Which points to a harsh but very real lesson, it matters a heckuva lot more if we get poor people out of poverty than if we convince the middle class that they are bigoted. To paraphrase Hillary Clinton – “F*ck hearts and minds. Actual laws change peoples lives.”

    This speaks to the false distinction between social views and economic views–it makes zero sense to be socially liberal and economically conservative because our entire system is centered on wealth as a proxy for value.

    @mattbernius:
    @Michael Reynolds:

    Facts are stubborn little bastards.

    Topline results often tell the story desired by the one reporting them.

    Qualitative analysis suffers from similar problems. See: my repeated exhortations to at least glance at a study linked in a news report, and especially in an Op-ed, because it often takes little time to see instances of bullshit in the secondhand accounts.

    Oh look! We found out way back to CRT and the impetus behind the development of direct action. Systems of oppression make participants out of everyone. This isn’t a critique to be taken personally.

    Belichick’s defenses have been really good at taking away what the opposing offense does best. At one time, that meant being physical with Colts receivers. The response from the Colts wasn’t to find bugger, stronger receivers, but to get the league to enact restrictive rule changes.

    Sounds familiar to me, because that’s exactly how the RW dealt with emancipation and how Southerners dealt with Civil Rights legislation.
    The GOP turned CRT and trans rights into personal threats. The former goes from a critique of system architecture to a personal attack; the latter, a vehicle for sexual predators.

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  77. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Just in passing, I will note that 99 times out of a hundred, if you click on the line on your internet page that begins with “htttps://” and highlight what is on that line, clicking “Copy” after it is highlighted (just like you do to use the link thingie, IIRC) and then simply “Paste” that “Copy” to whatever comment you are writing, the link you copied will magically appear as a hot link on your message.

    Sort of like this random article I selected from my MS Edge front page: https://www.msn.com/en-us/tv/news/matt-schlapp-calls-for-sesame-street-federal-funding-to-be-stopped/ar-AAQP7AA?ocid=msedgntp

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  78. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jon: Alas, it’s not just the middle that ain’t woke. 🙁

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  79. mattbernius says:

    @steve:

    1) Is there anyway to tell a woke person that they might be wrong?

    Better question, is there any way to tell *anyone* that they are wrong? My experience, based at least on OTB comment threads is rarely if ever.

    Case and points:

    ) Do the woke even care about outcomes?

    I do work in the criminal legal system space. I run in similar circles to abolitionists and folks who are hella woke–including many in my organization. I have seen the changes they have accomplished on the municipal level (creating systems and support networks for folks returning from incarceration) and on the State level (helping craft legislation to automatically clear folks criminal histories or reform bail to keep poverty from keeping folks in jail).

    In a similar way, I could point to lots of writing from venerated civil rights leaders like MLK or John Lewis that if we left off the author’s name would be assumed to be written by one of those “woke progressives.” But those folks clearly didn’t care about outcomes.

    Getting back to point 1, I doubt that any of that will change your mind/priors about your strawman of progressive/woke people.

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  80. Mu Yixiao says:

    A Reason piece about partisan ship spoke to this topic a few days back. I finally found it.

    There are two basic views of society and the role that politics should play in it. The traditional libertarian view, as embodied in America’s founding (albeit imperfectly), sees government mainly as a referee that applies the laws equally to all citizens[1].

    In this view, the public square is a neutral place, where a tightly restrained government allows people to live out their lives largely as they choose—even if they make seemingly boneheaded choices. The government adjudicates disputes among private parties, provides some public services, and tries mainly to keep people from harming one another[2].

    The second view, which has long been common among progressives and now among populist conservatives, is that there is no such thing as neutrality. In that way of thinking,

    the role of government is to advance the “public good,”

    and officials should have all the necessary tools at their disposal to force people to behave (economically and culturally) as they should.

    (emphasis added)

    Most of America self-identifies as “independent”, and (I’m supposing) would probably call themselves some form of “middle of the road”. Both Evangelical Christians and Progressives (who are evangelical in their own way) are telling us how to behave “for our own good”.

    Nobody likes being told what to do (except for a certain sub-set of kinksters). I’m betting that most Americans want the government to shut up, do it’s job, and leave them alone. I agree.

    Following on Michael Reynold’s thread: There have been times when we have had to create change with force (desegregation), but Will & Grace did far more to change American attitudes on homosexuality than anything Congress could have. Hell… the old ladies at the rural bar used to love watching Rue Paul’s Drag Race. They’d oooh-and-aah at the outfits, tut at the drama, laugh at the jokes, and not even realize that the no longer cared that these were men presenting as women–after all, they’d seen plenty of farm girls who can’t be told from the farm boys, and that’s just natural.

    ================
    [1] That’s civil rights.
    [2] That’s property rights, infrastructure, and public safety (e.g. FDA, USDA, etc).

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  81. mattbernius says:

    @Kurtz:

    Systems of oppression make participants out of everyone. This isn’t a critique to be taken personally.

    Watch where you are going with that wolly-headed academic BS. Though, as a qualitative social “scientist*” I take more offense to:

    Qualitative analysis suffers from similar problems. See: my repeated exhortations to at least glance at a study linked in a news report, and especially in an Op-ed, because it often takes little time to see instances of bullshit in the secondhand accounts.

    BTW, James, one issue I have with the Intercept piece you quote is taking as a single focus group and attempting to grow it out into something more than a single qualitative data point. For the record, my hypothesis is that C-19 education restrictions were a bigger issue in VA than CRT, but I still wouldn’t draw major conclusions from a qualitative sampling that small and a study that short.

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  82. Scott says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Texas Monthly had a long article, Why Democrats Are Losing Texas Latinos on this subject.

    A small quote:

    While Hispanic South Texans are proud of their Mexican heritage, many do not consider themselves to be “people of color” at all.

    My son’s in-laws are Tejanos from the Rio Grande Valley. I can tell you that they don’t include themselves in the POC grouping.

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  83. MarkedMan says:

    @mattbernius: I looked at the first three of those, and I think you misunderstood my comment. I was specifically thinking of health outcomes and the literature on that is pretty good. Here’s a paper with a relatively large N. The results summary:

    Results

    Except among the younger Hispanic population, net worth was significantly associated with poor/fair health status within each racial/ethnic group in both datasets. Adding net worth attenuated the association between education and poor/fair health (in all racial/ethnic groups) and between income and poor/fair health (except among older Hispanics).

    Conclusions

    The results add to literature indicating the importance of including measures of wealth in health research for what they may reveal about disparities not only between but also within different racial/ethnic groups.

    To be clear, there are racial health outcome disparities within economic groups, but they are significantly less than a simple comparison by race alone.

    In all probability little of this disparity is attributable to race as a cause rather than a correlation. (Even eliding over the virtual impossibility of determining what race someone is in any scientifically meaningful sense.) These disparate health outcomes have specific, real world causes, and attacking those can therefore have benefits to actual individuals. Some of it is education and does directly touch on race. There is evidence that doctors are give less import to the self reported symptoms of African Americans, leading to under treatment and higher morbidity. Educating doctors on this tendency might make a real difference. There are a few genetic conditions that are truly more prevalent in those with African heritage, and encouraging doctors to be on the lookout for them could help.

    But some are most certainly more associated with poverty than with anything to do with the color of the skin. Where you locate polluting plants or dumps has everything to do with status. The rich and the powerful don’t get those in their neighborhood, they are placed amongst the powerless. Being poor dramatically increases the likelihood of growing up nears such a facility. Of course, being black and poor makes it even more likely, but if your goal is to put an end to it, what possible tactical advantage can there be to effectively telling the hundreds of thousands of white residents of Louisiana’s Cancer Alley that we are only focused on such things if the affected people are black or hispanic.

    As Cheryl so eloquently put it, we want those poor whites as allies but only if they are willing to sit down and shut up. We are going to work on other peoples problems first and maybe then we’ll get to you. But first, let me steel myself for the exhausting task of having to educate you ignorant rednecks about how tough life is for black people.

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  84. mattbernius says:

    @Scott:
    One of the big mistakes we’ve made from a demographic perspective, second only to collapsing the world’s largest and most diverse populations into a single “Asian” category, is the assumption that “Hispanic” is a racial category and not an ethnic one.

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  85. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner: High schools and middle schools have had faculty lounges in my past experience. In elementary schools, they’re called the faculty lunch areas/rooms. Contemporary (which I will define as built/remodeled within the last decade or so) el-hi school buildings tend to have faculty work rooms more than lounges/eating spaces. I guess, once again, that the meme is based on an assumed reality from a different venue altogether. Not surprising.

    Not including eating space in for teachers follows on the trend for teachers to eat lunch in their classrooms as it is mostly not practical to expect to eat lunch in 35 minutes from end of last class to the beginning of the next outside of eating at your desk (about 60% of the teachers for whom I substitute have both microwave ovens and coffee machines in their rooms). I feel there was some loss of community when teachers stopped eating lunch together, but what would I know.

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  86. Scott says:

    @mattbernius: I don’t know this for a fact but I would suspect that Asian-Americans don’t consider themselves POC either.

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  87. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Scott: Your comment reminded me of something I heard about a family while I was in grad school in Central Washington:

    Well yes, but they’re not black, their family has lived here for a hundred years.

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  88. Andy says:

    @mattbernius:

    Getting back to point 1, I doubt that any of that will change your mind/priors about your strawman of progressive/woke people.

    I have no problem with anyone’s personal views, woke or otherwise. Where I start to have a problem is when baseless accusations and ad hominems fly if I don’t agree with some point or whatever the dogma is. YMMV, but the progressive/woke people I run into are worse on that than any other group I interact with.

    Relatedly, one of the reasons I like Freddie deBoer, even though I fundamentally disagree with his socialist goals and worldview, is that he doesn’t go around acting like his shit doesn’t stink and that anyone who doesn’t agree with him is some kind of moral deviant. David Shorr is another example and so is Batya Ungar-Sargon – socialists (Batya self-identifies as a Marxist) that are also pragmatic and have an idea of what it actually takes to work toward their goals. Perhaps not ironically, but all three are mostly attacked by woke progressives despite the fact they probably agree on 90% of issues.

    There are good writers on the right who have the same problem there – Jonah Goldberg is one that comes to mind – the most vicious criticism he gets comes from Trumpers.

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  89. Kurtz says:

    @mattbernius:

    Haha. You know I wasn’t talking about you. You consume information differently from most people. And really, it’s not just that broad distinction, it’s also the narrower distinctions between disciplines. How an engineer consumes ideas in social science is different from how you would. And some social scientists botch their application of natural sciences.

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  90. steve says:

    “Better question, is there any way to tell *anyone* that they are wrong? My experience, based at least on OTB comment threads is rarely if ever.”

    Sure, its the internet. No one is wrong and everyone is an expert. I am more worried about real life. In real life where I work we often admit that we have been wrong. We all make mistakes. It is a supportive environment where you dont get grilled or bashed for being wrong you just correct it. How will the woke purists fit into this model?

    I can point to lots of changes we have made in our medical system to provide better care for different minority groups, making sure that the local reps from those group are involved with what we do to make sure they agree with what we do. We then monitor outcomes to make sure what we are doing is working for this minority groups. We did this without any people who identified as woke. Does that make us woke?

    I think part of the problem is I dont really know what woke means. If it is someone telling me to shut up its not going to go well. If it is part of the purity crowd that goes after someone inclined to support them because they committed some minor infraction it wont go well. OTOH if I am dealing with people who understand that I am old enough that i will never get the pronouns thing correct but I am willing to try and get forgiven when I get it wrong I am OK. Since I believe systemic racism is real and have had to argue in the past to get women and minorities into visible important positions I am inclined to work towards positive ends so if I dont used the right words but results are more important than words, then I am OK. Diversity classes? Probably not good. Concrete actions that will help us to be more diverse and make sure that the diverse workforce works well. That works.

    Steve

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  91. MarkedMan says:

    @Mike in Arlington: “The left needs to be able to make the argument that their policies will help people, and that if they do have a financial cost, how the policy is worth the cost.” I wish to god this was the way things worked, but from what I can see the reality is the masses hear Joe Biden or AOC say “Our way is best and their way stinks” and then Mitch McConnell and the Orange Moron say “Our way is best and their way stinks” and they give up on that and pick on other matters entirely.

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  92. Kurtz says:

    @Andy:

    Without anyone saying it, the line drawn in many of these posts is the notion of silencing.

    On one side: white working class people (mostly men) who feel as if their voices aren’t heard.

    On the other: women, queer, bipoc, and their intersections who have and continue to have their voices muted.

    Both have legitimate cases. When the latter group invokes “white privilege,” the former thinks, “I have never experienced that.” I contend that that, yes, they have experienced it but the concept is by definition an inconspicuous phenomenon unless one has experienced it.

    The white working class has been left behind, but they voted for it. They support most, if not all of the Build Back Better program, and many of the policies within it at significant margins. Yet, the policymakers fighting it are their representatives.

    If you can, put yourself in the shoes of the second side and try to figure out a solution to that apparent paradox. Some say race, some say sex, some say stupidity. The more thoughtful will try to figure out less pejorative ways to square the circle, at least in their better moments.

    It’s understandable to me that people on the Left would look at all these things and see a group of people who are not taking responsibility for poor decisions at the ballot box–sounds like a form of privilege to not face accountability.

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  93. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    that most Americans want the government to shut up, do it’s job, and leave them alone…

    Almost. You left out

    … and force the other guy to do what he wants them to do.

    And there’s the problem…

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  94. Monala says:

    @mattbernius: I hear what you’re saying. Many times it is radical activists who make substantive progress in our society, and often while expressing views that middle of the road people find offensive. However, I recently read a Twitter thread by a prison abolition activist that also expressed concern about the tendency to cancel people too quickly:

    I wish that the right hadn’t monopolized conversations surrounding “cancel culture” because while I don’t think it exists in the ways that they’re using it, I DO think people on the left have difficulty forming and maintaining relationships that align with our values.

    So many of my friends and comrades and I have discussed how we are all virtually afraid of being abandoned by people we care about for saying the “wrong” thing, but if we name this then we are all lumped together with abuse apologists.

    I’m approaching 30 and it’s normal for comrades of years to let me know they dislike me now, or I did something wrong etc etc through icing me out or group unfollowing me on social media. This doesn’t happen to normal people? This doesn’t make organizing enticing.

    It makes my heart ache sometimes. It’s why I rarely let comrades in and form friendships with them beyond the work, because I don’t trust them sometimes. Its sad that we risk our lives together to work against the state but can’t really ever fully know or love each other.

    And it’s just “okay” now. It’s like suddenly in service of abolition. I know this is an unpopular opinion but it doesn’t feel good to know that people will no longer talk to people they have conflict with, they will instead convince everyone that you’re “bad” and everything you touch is bad. And this behavior is what actually lets real abuse slide imo. It’s so exhausting because people dont have the power to discern anymore, and discernment is so important as survivors.

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  95. Mike in Arlington says:

    @MarkedMan: Yeah … I might have gotten a bit high on my own supply there, but I don’t think the democrats are doing themselves any favors by not acknowledging that their plans have costs.

    It seems like a large portion of the population is bombarded with “the democrats are communist/socialist/NAZIs!!!!” most of the year, but they only hear from the democrats during campaign season, and once that’s over, they kinda disappear.

    I tried to write what I thought the next step was three times now, and I don’t have a good answer. But I have several ideas that would be good place to start:
    1) They get their messaging and counter-messaging right. They need to be able to put their policies and what they stand for in simple, easy to understand messages.
    2) they need to start pushing back on a lot of the bullshit about the liberal media to journalists. Sure, Fox news is a problem, but if they can’t even get fair coverage from the big media companies, then they’ll never be able to push back on Fox. Conservatives have been able to work the refs for so long, the democrats need to start countering that.
    3) They need to start trying to engage their voters during times when they are not running a campaign. For example: I was signed up for the DCCC mailing list, and all I got were fundraising messages, and there were multiple emails a day during campaign season. It was infuriating so I unsubscribed from that email list. I realize that money is a huge part of politics and running campaigns, but if I only receive fundraising messages from the DNC/DCCC, then I don’t see a reason I should be excited for a campaign. The first thing that comes to my mind on this one is to put more money into state and local parties. They’re in a much better place to be able to tailor messages and stories to the local media and are able to do things to try to get involved in the communities.

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  96. Mimai says:

    “We’re never going to change their minds or behaviors by yelling at them, condescending to them, or any such thing. YOU MUST BE A #$%*@ IDIOT TO THINK THAT IS HOW YOU REACH PEOPLE!!!”

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  97. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Olivet University – Link to IBT Media

    Olivet University and IBT Media both claim IBT Media is an independent organization, but on the other hand both organizations have also pled guilty to being in a money laundering and fraud conspiracy together.

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  98. mattbernius says:

    Lots of good discussions to respond to, let me do my best, starting with earliest in the thread:

    @Scott:

    I don’t know this for a fact but I would suspect that Asian-Americans don’t consider themselves POC either.

    That’s already repeating the same mistake–again collapsing all Asians (Central, Southern, South East, East, Pacific Islanders) into a single category. The answer is things range quite a bit. And most of the ones that I know consider themselves to fall into BIPOC as a broad category, but also acknowledge that they have different concerns than say Black folks. Or, perhaps more simply, they don’t consider themselves white in the same way that white Hispanics do. But that’s an admittedly small sample.

    @Andy, I’m skipping over yours because I think it’s going to be addressed below. All I will say for the moment is that I have an aversion to folks saying “X group never admits to being wrong” when in my and other’s experiences, that’s true of most folks (at some point I can tell a fun Werner Herzog story about that) and doubly so for people who tend to post on comment threads.

    @Kurtz:

    You consume information differently from most people.

    Thanks. I appreciate that. I also will try not to let that go to my head as I’m as susceptible to my own cognitive biases as anyone else.

    @MarkedMan:

    I looked at the first three of those, and I think you misunderstood my comment. I was specifically thinking of health outcomes and the literature on that is pretty good.

    First, thank you for the source. I’m looking forward to reading that paper. Second, thanks for zeroing in on the crux of our misunderstanding. When I read what you wrote–“A lot of those gaps decrease and some even disappear when we categorize by income rather than by race.”–I thought you were making a wide claim (i.e. that racial gaps in homeownership, incarceration, education, access to prosperity, etc will close or disappear when you control for poverty). Again, in my research, I have yet to find evidence that happens. I’m glad to see that health outcomes are an area where poverty appears to be a more critical vector. I’m more than happy to cede that ground.

    @Monala:

    Many times it is radical activists who make substantive progress in our society, and often while expressing views that middle of the road people find offensive. However, I recently read a Twitter thread by a prison abolition activist that also expressed concern about the tendency to cancel people too quickly.

    First, great thread, and I agree with the message wholeheartedly. And also very good points about the need for radical activists to at once work in collaboration and also use rhetoric that pushes the discussion forward.

    More importantly, I think this also points out that we’re all arguing around a term without reaching any sort of agreed upon communal definition.

    In other words: what do we mean by “woke.” Are we talking about someone who discusses systemic racism? Are we talking about people who talk about white supremacy culture? Are we talking about something more performative that involves canceling people?

    Until we reach some agreement around how we’re defining the term, then it seems like we’re all blind people trying to describe an elephant and in doing so often falling back on strawmen.

    For example:
    Are the prison abolitionists I know (and the person you cited on Twitter who is now added to my feed) who eloquently argue that policing is inherently racist and driven to sustain white supremacy AND also argue against canceling people woke?

    (FWIW, a lot of people who I consider “woke”–at least in the OG use of the term–like adrianne marie brown and Mariame Kaba also have taken anti-cancel positions in the past.)

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  99. mattbernius says:

    @Kurtz:
    Really well written. And I think this gets to a point that I think needs to be said out loud: to some degree I think the white working-class, and in particular white working-class men, are correctly reading the room in terms of power-sharing. They are losing cultural power–or rather they are having to share it, which is interpreted as a loss.

    Whether or not they ever really had that power really doesn’t matter. Their world, and the social compacts it was built on, is changing. And so they are going to the party that promises to sustain that illusion of power.

    Andy fairly called this hypothesis into question a while ago–in particular my use of “zero-sum game” but I still maintain that this is the case. People who believe they have been in power are willing to share power up to the point where we approach something closer to true equality. And I think we’ve been seeing that here.

    I have been watching early “All in the Family” episodes and it’s sometimes scary how much the character of Archie Bunker predicted the future.

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  100. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Thank you. I didn’t know about the connection to Olivet U.

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  101. Mu Yixiao says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Almost. You left out

    … and force the other guy to do what he wants them to do.

    And there’s the problem…

    No. Most people aren’t trying to force the other guy to do anything. The ones trying to force things are a small minority–who knows how to scream really loud. And you’ve fallen into their trap–by insisting that “if they believe everything I do, they’re trying to force me to believe what they do”

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  102. Mu Yixiao says:

    GAH! The Edit Gods curse me today!

    If they believe everything I do

    If they don’t believe everything I do…

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  103. Andy says:

    @mattbernius:

    All I will say for the moment is that I have an aversion to folks saying “X group never admits to being wrong” when in my and other’s experiences, that’s true of most folks (at some point I can tell a fun Werner Herzog story about that) and doubly so for people who tend to post on comment threads.

    I agree with that. And here and in other online debates, I never expect to change anyone’s mind, much less get anyone to admit they were wrong.

    The problem isn’t that people don’t admit that they are wrong, the problem I have is when people insist that their premises and even arguments must be presumptively acknowledged as true, and those who don’t are labeled racists, transphobes, or whatever.

    It’s like trying to have a debate with someone about the role of religion in society and them insisting I must first accept Jesus, and if I don’t then they will call me a satanist and dismiss anything I have to say. Well, doing that isn’t going to get me more interested in what Christianity or their church has to offer.

    Even most religious people understand that is dumb in terms of effectiveness and that you can’t get converts by belittling people you’re trying to entice.

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  104. Andy says:

    @mattbernius:

    to some degree I think the white working-class, and in particular white working-class men, are correctly reading the room in terms of power-sharing. They are losing cultural power–or rather they are having to share it, which is interpreted as a loss.

    As you note, yes, I push back against this. Mostly because I haven’t seen any evidence that this is actually the primary motivation of this particular group of people. To me it seems like one big assumption.

    That said, all people are concerned with status – it’s built into our species. And I think by any objective measure, the working class generally has lost status for a number of reasons, most of which have nothing to do with race.

    I’m particularly skeptical of this theory because it always seems to be the case in this line of argument that “whites” are the ones inherently motivated by racial resentment, but non-whites never are – or else their racial resentment motivations are entirely justified.

    As I said before, I do not agree with this view and do not think it has evidentiary support.

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  105. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Seems to me that all this condemning of “wokeism” (whatever that is – care to define it?) is just another way of saying “We white guys want to be in charge again. Underlings should shut up and do what we tell them.”

    No. It’s a push back against a tiny vocal (predominantly white middle-class) minority who insist that they speak for “all the minorities” (even when the minorities say “Um… no, you don’t speak for us”) and promote hyper-sensitivity (again, in contradiction to what the minorities are saying).

    And… just FYI: If everyone who sits at the table has an equal voice (which is what I push for), “white men” account for 31% of the US population. That’s from the US census, so it’s self-identifying.

    While there are plenty of times I say “Oh just sit down and shut up”, it’s directed at an individual, not a group. And those individuals fill the spectrum (actually, it’s more of a mathematical matrix, but… that doesn’t roll off the tongue as well).

    Anyone who tells a group to sit down and shut up… ?

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  106. senyordave says:

    Even Republicans, by overwhelming majorities, tell pollsters that trans people deserve equal treatment under the law, including protections from employment and housing discrimination.

    If you actually believe that Republicans overwhelmingly believe trans people deserve legal protections from employment and housing discrimination, well as they say in the South, bless your heart.

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  107. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @mattbernius: Yes Matt–but you can’t run from Culture. The right exaggerates self-defeating cultural norms of People of Color and the Left acts like they don’t exist–and any suggestion of them is racist.

    Of course..any population of people in a credentialist economy that eschew higher education–are going to do worse than a population that embraces higher education.

    Im prejudice AF against white people–don’t trust em as far as I can see em. So its not racist for me to say Black men (in aggregate) do not value higher education or opportunities to get higher education. This is a complete 180 from Black male norms post Jim Crow–but that’s where we are now. Stats will show a disparity–investigation and analysis will show that a portion of said gap is self-inflicted.

    Alot of people like me kinda face palm all the white people running around thinking they are fighting black oppression. Are there some battles there to fight? Sure–and some righteous ones. But I used to run the streets pretty hard in my day—and there weren’t a whole lot of people in the streets that didn’t want to be there. Most people in the street life enjoy the lifestyle. They think people with 9-5s, 1 spouse, and mortgages are lames and suckers. Therefore, a demographic of people attracted to the hustle lifestyle are going to end up in the clink more than people who are less attracted to it. Thats not race–its culture.

    If the left were honest and really wanted to help (they don’t–they just don’t want to feel guilty) they would be honest that race and culture are both significant factors in racial disparities. None of us can choose our race–but we can choose how to invest our time and money. People that choose wisely are generally going to come out better than people that don’t.

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  108. de stijl says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    De Boer is a gate-keeper socialist. His socialism denies progressivism.

    De Boer is basically Joe Manchin.

    If you are a habitue of Lawyers, Guns and Money, Freddie is a common meme of self-proclaimed socialist who isn’t one and actively works against their interests always in everything he writes.

    He claims turf he does not own. A fake. A false claimer.

    The Joe Lieberman of recent American socialism. A man who is self-proclaimed but is always against and always disdainful. A sham. A honeypot.

    De Boer is as trustworthy a spokesperson as Grima Wormtongue

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  109. Dude Kembro says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    So its not racist for me to say Black men (in aggregate) do not value higher education or opportunities to get higher education.

    I’m a black man with multiple degrees. This is a racist lie and a 100% false right wing stereotyped blanket statement that demonstrates why ~85-90% of black voters vote Democratic.

    Too many Republicans are truly evil Paul Gosar clones who think exactly like this. Very sad. #VoteBlue

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  110. Dude Kembro says:

    @mattbernius:

    In other words: what do we mean by “woke.”

    We mean a mostly-white establishment is once again misappropriating and destroying black youth culture.

    Youth voters are increasingly checking out, waiting for worst of the Boomers to die off and take their angry, paranoid, fear-based culture war politics with them.

    I can hardly blame us — but hopefully we get healthcare reform, childcare, student debt relief, and paid leave in the meantime. Biden’s historic infrastructure rebuild was a good start.

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  111. Dude Kembro says:

    @Andy:

    Even most religious people understand that is dumb in terms of effectiveness and that you can’t get converts by belittling people you’re trying to entice.

    Shades of Bernie’s foolproof strategy of trying to get Democratic voters to vote for him by…trashing their party and their political icons. #derp

    But that’s not why he lost by millions of votes twice despite outraising his main opponents — it was rigged! Lol

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  112. matt bernius says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    I totally agree that at some level, communities are the ones that ultimately need to fix themselves. And individual and communal responsibility needs to come into play.

    I’m also not pretending I have the answers as a middle-class, middle-age white dude to solve the problems of inner-city black communities here in Rochester NY or elsewhere. Or that they necessarily want my advice.

    I also believe that any group’s culture is significantly impacted and shaped by a LOT external conditions. And I think the history of systemic racism and oppression in this country has done a lot to create the conditions that you bring up (or that they arose in response to that continued oppression and the unequal distribution of prosperity).

    So yes, there definitely are current cultural issues. And I also want to call out how the broader history and culture of the US helped at a minimum exacerbate (and potentially in many cases create) those issues.

    Where I stand is that I think we as a nation have taken a LOT from Black and other BIPOC communities and not given back equally. So my position is to acknowledge that taking and understanding that repairing that damage is a multigenerational effort and it going to take a lot. So I’m very much about stopping pretending that being “color-blind” is an inherent virtue (because the taking sure wasn’t color blind) and providing communities with the tools and resources they need to begin/continue the processes of healing themselves.

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  113. mattbernius says:

    @Andy:
    As always thank you for responding! And your willingness to engage, as always, helps me understand your position more. Which leads me to:

    I’m particularly skeptical of this theory because it always seems to be the case in this line of argument that “whites” are the ones inherently motivated by racial resentment, but non-whites never are – or else their racial resentment motivations are entirely justified.

    Ok, this is super helpful to have shared. That interpretation isn’t my intent. I think the reality of race as a social construction is that most racial groups are motivated by it in different ways. And I don’t necessarily think white folks are motivated by resentment so much as a general concern about sharing power and disrupting existing power structures.

    I also think that folks from non-white groups are in part motivated by wanting the sorts of historic protections, advantages, and power that white folks had from jump street. And if generation after generation you are told that things are equal and everything around you shows that things are clearly not, that’s definitely going to generate a lot of resentment (which gets into the point of how that inequality can shape culture).

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