Centrists are using “wokeness” as a smokescreen for excusing the Democratic Party’s corporate policies.
If you haven’t noticed, Democratic Party leadership doesn’t quite represent America. To begin with, the median American is 38 years old. Democratic leadership includes a 79-year-old president, an 81-year-old speaker of the House, and a spring chicken of a Senate majority leader … at 71 years old. All of them are white — all from coastal states.
This isn’t a coincidence. To say that the Democratic Party has a gatekeeping problem would be an understatement. Of course everything you hear from party leadership is how they’re building for the “next generation of Democratic leaders.” Indeed, President Biden called himself a “bridge” to the next generation. But political gatekeeping is anything but straightforward. What’s clear is that the leadership is eager for the next generation … who thinks just like they do.
That’s why you’re hearing an all-out assault on “woke-ism,” an ideological straw man of the left, which its critics characterize as being preoccupied with identity politics. They argue that slogans like “defund the police” threaten to cost the party seats in the midterms. They point to the recall election of three local school board members in San Francisco over their focus on renaming, rather than reopening, schools to argue that the country is done with progressive politics. But they conveniently ignore that San Francisco supported Bernie Sanders by 10 points in the 2020 primary (then again, since when did San Francisco become a bellwether?).
It’s damning enough that rich, powerful white folks are dogging efforts at achieving racial justice. Indeed, if our party isn’t serious about addressing the injustices of the criminal legal system, we have to question what it means to believe in racial justice at all. But that’s not even what these power-brokers fear most. Their gripe with what they call “woke-ism” isn’t actually about opposing racial justice efforts. It’s also about kneecapping economic justice issues that threaten the party’s corporate donors.