There have been a flurry of stories lately indicating that Democratic leaders and strategists have realized how off-putting the woke brigade is to many voters. Some of them say so out loud, with attribution. Others whisper and gripe to reporters. Others just grit their teeth and say nothing. The dilemma they face is obvious: On one hand, much of their base -- especially hardcore activists and white progressives -- espouse race-obsessed wokeness with religious fervor. On the other, a great many others, including normal, marginally political people, are repulsed and alienated by it. What to do? They're obviously trying to avoid the entire party getting associated with the aggressive leftism of 'social and racial justice' warriors without angering core groups of their constituency. It's a hard needle to thread, and Republicans are understandably working to complicate that task as much as possible. A new Politico article suggests that the Democratic brand is now being tarnished (deservedly in my view) with the poisonous and divisive basket of ideas that fall under the broad categories of 'equity,' intersectionality, and 'critical race theory:'
On the national level, Democrats have insisted that the brush fires over critical race theory — which has become a political punching bag even for unrelated equity initiatives — are largely the work of right-wing activists who willfully misrepresent what it means, and they blame Fox News for fanning parents’ anger. "That's another right-wing conspiracy. This is totally made up by Donald Trump and [Republican candidate for governor] Glenn Youngkin," Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe said in June. “I don’t think we would think that educating the youth and next and future leaders of the country on systemic racism is indoctrination,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki in May. But those Democrats appear to be underestimating parents’ anger in places where critical race theory is top of mind. Objections to new equity plans are not the sole province of conservatives but extend to many moderate and independent voters, according to POLITICO interviews with school board members, political operatives and activists in Democratic and left-leaning communities including the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.; Palm Beach County, Fla.; New York’s Westchester County; Maricopa County covering Phoenix, Ariz.; and suburban Detroit.
The piece features an immigrant and Democratic voter in northern California who is leading the charge locally against race-fixated curricula and indoctrination, calling her "representative of Democrat-leaning or politically moderate suburbanites interviewed by POLITICO in six states, all but one of which were won by Biden. They are up in arms over their school systems’ new equity initiatives, which they argue are costly and divisive." Those expressing their anger are feeling dismissed by progressive elites. "Parents who are showing up to school board meetings and have helped launch a spate of recall elections say they are angry about a host of issues, including what they see as a myopic focus on diversity at school boards, ongoing frustration over a year of closed schools and school lesson plans that they say are becoming too progressive, too fast," Politico reports. "While those complaints have often been branded in the media as “anti-critical race theory,” the causes of the anger are varied, and are being ignored, parents say." Those frustrated parents aren't alone. Polling from YouGov has shown that as Americans become familiar with the term CRT, they don't view it favorably:
"People who identified as Republican and had heard of critical race theory were especially negative: 85% termed their views “very unfavorable.” But the same was true of 71% of independents, the group that was key to Biden’s victory over Trump" https://t.co/SAgcWHVwTh— Conn Carroll (@conncarroll) July 26, 2021
National Journal's Josh Kraushaar has been tracking public opinion around these issues for months now, and he's noticed a pattern. From the spring:
70% of respondents said it is not important or not at all important for schools to “teach students that their race is the most important thing about them”— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) May 10, 2021
25% said this is somewhat or very important.https://t.co/fBkOLAhPGk
Q: Should schools “change US history classes so that they focus on race and power and promote social justice political issues?”— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) May 10, 2021
Support: 30% (14% strongly)
Oppose: 59% (51% strongly)https://t.co/fBkOLAhPGk
And from last week, via a Democratic pollster:
13% *very* fav— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) July 23, 2021
30% *very* unfav
Dems: 41/16 fav/unfav
Indies: 13/35 fav/unfav
GOPers: 9/62 fav/unfav
These numbers include lots of undecideds and 'don't know' responses, but the results from May suggest that when tenets of race-essentialist education are spelled out for voters, they're heavily rejected. This is why so many CRT proponents and defenders are trying to bog down the debate with hyper-technical and over-narrow definitions, while conflating CRT with teaching basic facts about topics like slavery and segregation. People overwhelmingly don't object to those things, which are rightly already taught in schools. But this is something quite different, and increasing numbers of people intuitively understand and reject it:
One parent in Novi, Mich., a diverse suburb outside Detroit with prized public schools, said she started reading up on critical race theory after her daughter, a recent high school graduate, started raising the idea of defunding police departments and arguing that rioters who looted stores during 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests were justified. The parent — who asked to not be named because of the heated politics in Novi — said she has in the past voted for Democrats, but she considers her daughter’s ideas “radical.” She and other parents formed an anonymous group to question the school board. “Based on everything I have seen in the last year, starting with Covid, I cannot continue [voting for Democratic candidates] in good faith,” she said. In Loudoun County, Va., where heated opposition to the district’s plans to implement new diversity initiatives has led to an attempted recall of board members, culminating in a viral school board meeting in June where two protesters were arrested, organizers have similarly noticed support coming from outside the Republican Party. A poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies in early June for the anti-critical race theory advocacy group Fight for Schools found that 48 percent of independent voters and 59 percent of public school parents overall in Loudoun and neighboring Fairfax County viewed critical race theory negatively, while 31 percent and 39 percent of each group had positive views.
These are very blue areas, so framing visceral opposition to race-obsessive curricula as a right-wing fever dream conjured out of nowhere amounts to arrogant denial. Appallingly, CRT (again, broadly defined) is built on grievance, and those intentionally sowing racial division have been succeeding. This is what their ideology, amplified across mainstream and social media, has wrought. Tragic "progress:"
The Great Awokening: mission accomplished. pic.twitter.com/MFM6xD2rhQ— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) July 22, 2021
They've been working hard to pull us apart, and it's been working. It's no wonder people are noticing, objecting, and doing what they can to fight back. I'll leave you with this cartoonishly woke foray out of the Dallas suburbs:
I’m dead right now. ??Highland Park is one of the richest areas in Texas. These Democrat parents would walk across hot coals & plan a murder for the chance their kids go to an Ivy League or other top schools. Then they get this from a Black Lives Matter Organization. ???????? pic.twitter.com/WlmxNRiPco— Kathleen McKinley (@KatMcKinley) July 25, 2021
A big part of me wonders if this is a conservative prank or satire, but this story, including quotes, suggests that it may actually be real. The organization's website also states that the group intends to make public the names of those who have and have not signed the pledge. In any case, I hope "racial justice" groups attempt this elsewhere, prompting moderate suburban parents to come sprinting back into the GOP coalition, which they've abandoned in droves over recent years.