Former President Barack Obama thinks Democrats can be a bit of a “buzzkill,” too easily offended by the casual slights and complicated scenarios of modern life, he said in a podcast interview late last week.
“How is politics even relevant? How is it even relevant to the things that matter most to me? My family, my children, the job that gives me satisfaction, having fun, no be a joker, right?Obama he said in an interview with “You Can Save America.” “And sometimes Democrats are, aren’t they? You know, sometimes people just want to not feel like they’re walking on eggshells. And they want some recognition that life is messy and that we’re all in a at any given moment we can say things in the wrong way, be wrong.”
Obama is publicly addressing a concern voiced privately by Democratic strategists for quite some time: that the party’s liberal base is so focused on “wokeness” and the possibility of offending certain interest groups that they miss the broader thread of talk to voters. they really care
James Carville, a longtime Democratic strategist, has been more forceful, certainly than Obama, in denouncing the awakening focus.
“We let one loud wing of our party define the rest of us,” Carville said last summer. “And my point is, we can’t do that. I think these people are very good people. I think they’re very naive, and they’re all about language and identity. And that’s fine. They’re not storming the Capitol. But they’re not winning elections.”
And then, when Republicans won the Virginia governorship last November and scored other victories across the country, Carville laid the blame at the feet of his party’s awakened warriors.
“Don’t just look at Virginia and New Jersey,” Carville told PBS’s Judy Woodruff at the time. “Look at Long Island, look at Buffalo, look at Minneapolis, even look at Seattle, Washington. I mean, this ‘defunding the police,’ this taking Abraham Lincoln’s name off the schools. I mean this, people sees it.”
He added: “Some of these people need to go to ‘woke’ rehab or something. They’re expressing language that people just don’t use, and there’s a backlash and a frustration.”
While there may be some debate within Democratic circles about the focus on awakening, there is no doubt that Republicans see opportunity.
Ad after ad running in hotly contested midterm campaigns accuses Democrats of supporting measures to defund the police and eliminate cash bail. An ad running against Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate Mandela Barnes opens with an image of rioters on fire accompanied by the words “Do you feel safe?” The ad ends ominously saying: “Mandela Barnes: He’s with them, not us.”
Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, has built a successful national brand around his opposition to the so-called woke culture. DeSantis signed a bill earlier this year called the “Stop Woke Act” that aims to limit conversations about gender and race in the workplace and classroom.
“We believe that an important component of freedom in the state of Florida is the freedom to have oppressive ideologies imposed without your consent,” DeSantis said of the legislation. “And we decided to do something about it.”
House Republicans have picked up on that message. Part of his “Commitment to America” plan, for example, aims to “ensure that only women can compete in women’s sports.”
To be clear: Obama is not saying that Democrats are completely wrong in their approach to awakening. Instead, he suggests that they operate from a place of understanding for those who are still evolving in their thinking, and not assume the worst motives of them.
Obama cites his own mother-in-law as an example. “He’s 86 years old, you know, and sometimes he tries to get the right phrasing when we talk about things, like Michelle, it’s like trying to learn Spanish. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to learn Spanish, but it does mean that sometimes you won’t get the words right. And that’s good, right?”
It is this understanding attitude that is “a little more real and a little more grounded,” according to Obama, that would help Democrats. He said it “goes a long way to counter what is systematic propaganda that I think Fox News and all these other media outlets do all the time.”