The rendering of garments was well underway from the moment that it became clear that Vegetable Lasagna Impersonator Terry McAuliffe would lose to Reasonable Trumpist Glenn Youngkin. The Reasoned Judgments rained down from on high, and as usual, The Wisened Centrists declared that Wokeness destroyed the Democratic Party.
Of course, they went into it with their opinions preset, no matter if McAuliffe won or lost. The default was going to be “wokeness” sunk the Democratic Party, come hell or Lee Atwater. And you bet long-diseased Lee Atwater’s influence hung heavy over all this.
Atwater was the architect of the heinous method of campaigning that became known as “the Southern Strategy.” As you can see at that link, it was based on racism, and allowing white people to be comfortable in thinking racist things, plausible deniability of sorts via code words.
Trump came along and for a while, it was out with nuance and “saying what you think,” which gave him wide appeal among the people who just want to should out how much they hate the non-whites without worrying about code words like “welfare moms.” It was high paradise time for them, a dream they never thought they’d see morph into reality. Then it got taken away from them, and now the Republican Party appears to be attempting to return to it.
But this is a different version of the Atwater strategy, one they’ve managed to make far darker. The stakes are much higher. The party as a whole is dedicated to undermining our democracy. Just take a look at Lynn Cheney’s record on voting rights. It’s not great.
This threat should be the main focus of our electorate, but we Americans have a mean, hateful side that is susceptible to a certain brand of racial bullshit, and Republicans know it. So, they hammered away at critical race theory, convincing people it’s a huge threat despite not knowing what it is:
This guy says Critical Race Theory is the most important issue in the Virginia Election. He also says he has no idea what Critical Race Theory is. pic.twitter.com/lBrGy4lRBG
— The Good Liars (@TheGoodLiars) November 1, 2021
This stuff is no doubt funny, but it’s also alarming and has Democrats panicking because this guy supported the winner in Virginia. So, in response, you get stuff on cable news like Semi-Skeleton James Carville seemingly suggesting that progressives get sent to re-education camps.
(An aside on Carville: He sure seems to deeply hate elements of his own party, as his face gets even more of that Pissed-Off-Skeletor look when talking about anyone to his left, much more so than when he is talking about Republicans.)
All this panic is despite the fact that we’re not sure what exactly happened in Virginia as yet. We also seem to not want to acknowledge happier things for Democrats like Georgia’s elections going well. Or that winning back-to-back New Jersey governor elections is tough for a party to pull off.
But none of this seems to matter, so we’re in deep about critical race theory. No surprise, as we keep getting suckered into these kind of fights. In the 1990s, it was “PC Out of Control.” In the early years of Obama, it was the Tea Partiers. Right now it’s critical race theory and “wokeness,” whatever that is. But this is not going to remain static.
Remember the same people that Democrats are supposed to bow before earlier this year claimed that Dr. Seuss was going to be canceled because a few books were pulled over questionable images. But the Grinch will grace your TV screens next month, and “Cat in the Hat” is still in libraries. Much ado about nothing.
This past weekend, Ted Cruz spent a lot of time attacking…Big Bird. Over supporting children getting vaccinated, you see. That makes Big Bird worthy of canceling, I guess?
The point is, if Democrats try to appease these culture warriors, it will never stop. Something new will always appear. Instead, it would make more sense to attack these moments as invented hysteria designed to manipulate and divide us, and do it in a way that doesn’t alienate people. It is possible, you know, to talk about what is really going on and still listen to people, maybe discover that their concerns are real but are being manipulated into something else. Actually persuade voters and tell them what you are going to do to help them! And at the same time, not run the risk of alienating groups who turn out for you, election after election, because they hope you will fight for them and not cave.
They are not going to stop inventing new culture war fights. It’s all they got, as they are obviously not interested in governing. Time to face it head-on, fight it, and not cower to it.
The last word goes to the King of Monday Mope Music, the late great Elliot Smith: