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When it comes to wokeism, media come up with most fanciful theory of all

The past, they say, is a foreign country. But for political pundits, so is the present. This is the only way to explain the ludicrous theories that lately litter the opinion pages of The New York Times or come falling out of the mouths of sober political analysts on the nightly news. When it comes to judging the Republican electorate, commentators are even further out of their depth and no topic confuses the chattering classes more than “wokeism.”

Pundits struggle to understand what wokeism even means. They insist it’s not happening, before turning around and insisting with equal vigor that whatever is happening is good. Then they dismiss anyone who opposes it as both a quixotic crusader and a dangerous menace.

But now they’ve come up with the most fanciful theory of all: the backlash against wokeism in schools is ending. They imagine Republicans don’t even care about wokeism, that the issue is dying away, and that we can steer clear of the vexing topic altogether. They assert that GOP leaders will go back to talking about the deficit or some other mundane topic and leave the “experts” to worry about what their children are learning.

This — seriously — is the conclusion of a number of columns over the past month, from The New York Times, Business Insider, and Vox, to name just a few. All argue that, as Vox puts it, “Republican voters don’t really care for the war on woke.” Voters are tired, they claim, of hearing about gender, race, schools, and everything in between.

New York Times Building

The New York Times Building in Midtown Manhattan.  (Fox News Photo/Joshua Comins)

And as for the fact that the word “woke” hasn’t been mentioned very much in the GOP debates, that may be true enough, but the word itself is not at issue. The candidates spent significant time discussing the actual substance — enough time for it to qualify as a top-four issue in both debates. Candidates went out of their way to address school indoctrination, parents’ rights, and gender issues, in some cases very passionately. That these topics did not feature as prominently as others had far more to do with the preferences of the moderators than those of the candidates, or voters.

Indeed, the weakness of the pundits’ anti-anti-woke argument says more about the punditry’s own preferences than anything else. Unfortunately for them however, even Republican politicians are not, it appears, stupid enough to suddenly stop campaigning on issues on which they have a significant advantage in popular opinion. Although the commentariat may not like the culture wars, they are undoubtedly here to stay.


Terry Schilling (@Schilling1776) is the executive director of American Principles Project, a conservative nonprofit group dedicated to putting human dignity at the heart of public policy.


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