Wednesday, March 15, 2023

I, for one, am proud to be part of the "woke mob."

During his State of the Union address, President Biden said this:

My economic plan is about investing in places and people that have been forgotten. Amid the economic upheaval of the past four decades, too many people have been left behind or treated like they’re invisible.

Maybe that’s you, watching at home.

You remember the jobs that went away. And you wonder whether a path even exists anymore for you and your children to get ahead without moving away.

I get it.

That’s why we’re building an economy where no one is left behind.

Jobs are coming back, pride is coming back, because of the choices we made in the last two years. This is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America and make a real difference in your lives.

During the first two years of his term - with the slimmest of majorities in the Senate - Biden and the Democrats delivered on that "blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America" with passage of the American Rescue Plan, the infrastructure bill, and the Inflation Reduction Act. With the release of his 2024 budget, the president continues to build on that success.

With all of that, Biden and Democrats have successfully undermined any holdouts who continue to claim that their party has abandoned working class voters. So it's important to note what Republicans have done in response. Ron Brownstein nailed it!

The dividing lines between the parties now is not so much economic as it is how you feel about the way the country is changing. That is a fundamental fault line in our politics. And it is clear the energy in the Republican Party is for candidates who express resistance to that in all sorts of ways, from classroom censorship to book bans to what is happening on LGBTQ rights in the red states."

In other words, all Republicans have these days is fear mongering about the so-called "woke mind virus." 

What does that mean? The perfect example is what Governor DeSantis is doing in Florida, where he says that "wokeness goes to die." It means using state power to attack Black history, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, women's autonomy, and immigrants - along with free speech and the press. Those attacks are being repeated all over the country in red states. Republicans have completely abandoned any economic message and gone all-in on their so-called "culture wars."

It's important to keep in mind that what Brownstein is referring to is "backlash." The changes Republicans are reacting to are the result of decades of struggle to "perfect our union" and extend the hand of belonging to those who have been left out. 

For example, we've seen that the election of our first African American president triggered Ron DeSantis in a deep way. I am reminded of something Rebecca Traister wrote just before the 2016 election got underway.

The public spectacle of this presidential election, and the two that have preceded it, are inextricably linked to the racialized and gendered anger and violence we see around us…

Whatever their flaws, their political shortcomings, their progressive dings and dents, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton mean a lot. They represent an altered power structure and changed calculations about who in this country may lead.

The threat of an "altered power structure" led to the election of Donald Trump, who Ta-Nehisi Coates called “our first white president.” As he wrote, “The foundation of Trump’s presidency is the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy.” 

The Republican platform is now devoted to the negation of every gain we've made over the last century when it comes to civil rights. To accomplish that goal, the GOP is more than willing to abandon democracy, because for them, "being outnumbered doesn't have to mean losing."

That is the state of our politics today. Anyone who struggled with the question of whether working class voters went with Trump because of "economic anxiety" or "xenophobia" can leave that conversation to historians and open their eyes to what is happening right now. The president from Scranton is "building an economy where no one is left behind," while the opposition is so afraid of living in a pluralistic society that they're willing to abandon democracy in order to maintain their dominance. 

There are no "both sides" arguments for this one. It's time to chose sides. I, for one, am proudly part of the "woke mob."

1 comment:

  1. I've been dubious all along about the calls for Democrats to ditch any hint of one side in the culture wars instead of what, supposedly, really matters to people, economics. For lots of reasons: we want to keep the base fired up, not excluding black still exploited and in fear, women (and some men) truly taking to the voting booth because of the repeal abortion rights, Democrats have never once given up a real economic platform while the GOP has one favoring only the wealthy, because it's just plain right and meaningful to us, and anyway surely we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

    Nancy says this implicitly by concluding a post on how real the economic platform is while ending with a personal affirmation of wokeness, whatever that is. Biden, to his credit, recognizes it as well, affirming his support for abortion rights and reaching out to the black communities while taking advantage of the GOP fixation on the culture wars these days by doing his best to coopt the economic issues. He's lucked out with Trump's party's marginalism, but he's done well all the same.

    Still, I bet he can and maybe will exploit the culture wars as no longer a liability as well. He could easily coopt terms of freedom and justice, rather than us and them. Is this, he could ask, how you want to live, under a supposedly Christian but right-wing, powerful, and intrusive government? It really could happen.


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