Don’t Blame “Wokeness” On Democratic Losses
Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Politicon

If there is one constant in American politics, it’s white people faulting Black people for their racism.

In the aftermath of Terry McAuliffe’s loss to Glenn Youngkin in last week’s Virginia gubernatorial race, famed Democratic political strategist James Carville blamed his party’s recent losses and weak performance in state elections on “stupid wokeness” in a recent interview with PBS NewsHour.

“What went wrong is just stupid wokeness,” Carville told host Judy Woodruff. “Don’t just look at Virginia and New Jersey. Look at Long Island, look at Buffalo, look at Minneapolis, even look at Seattle, Washington. I mean, this ‘defund the police’ lunacy, this take Abraham Lincoln’s name off of schools. I mean that — people see that.”

To Carville this all leads to a “suppressive effect all across the country on Democrats.” 

“Some of these people need to go to a ‘woke’ detox center or something,” he added. “They’re expressing a language that people just don’t use, and there’s backlash and a frustration at that.”

This isn’t the first time Carville has lobbied this critique. 

In July, in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, Carville argued the party’s emphasis on “woke” issues was endangering its ability to keep its House and Senate majorities.

“We’re letting a noisy wing of our party define the rest of us. And my point is we can’t do that,” Carville told Cuomo. “I think these people are all kind of nice people. I think they’re very naive, and they’re all into language and identity. And that’s all right. They’re not storming the Capitol. But they’re not winning elections.”

Carville also told Vox’s Sean Illing earlier this year: “Wokeness is a problem and everyone knows it. It’s hard to talk to anybody today — and I talk to lots of people in the Democratic Party — who doesn’t say this. But they don’t want to say it out loud.”

I used to enjoy watching James Carville back when my mama got us cable because he talked like all those white Cajuns my dad used to get fishing bait from. However, that was quite some time ago, and over the years, Carville, a Clinton alum, has given us plenty of reasons to look the other way. He is, as Senator Bernie Sanders once said, a “political hack.”  And it’s true, as Sanders said one year later, that Carville was not “terribly relevant to what happens in Congress right now.”

I agree with Sanders that “James Carville can live in his world.” 

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It’s a shame so many others want to live in it, though. 

Ever since Carville made these comments, several segments have aired asking the same questions. There’s now even a (lazy) column from New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd that has itself since spawned more TV segments asking if Democrats are “too woke?” If one needed any reminders that most of the political media ecosystem is full of out of touch, rich and elitist white people, here you go. 

It’s like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter: “The average audience for people seriously using the word ‘woke’ in a 2021 political discussion are James Carville and Fox News pundits. So that should tell you all you need to know.”

But repetition doesn’t make something true no matter how much these Tony Chachere-sounding man and other clueless white people in the press keep trying. None of these white people have any clue what “woke” means when they use it. It’s just a euphemism for anything that points to racism and seemingly induces white guilt. Democrats can beat white fragility, but they must address it rather than blame us, the victims of prejudice.

Democrats like James Carville love to scapegoat Black people. But we don’t need people from the era of Bill Clinton telling us much of anything. Well, besides maybe an apology to Black folks

Terry McAulliffe lost because he wasn’t a great candidate and that was evident in the fact that he barely won the gubernatorial race the first time. He should have stepped out of the way as advised so some of the other Black progressive candidates – including Black women arguably more qualified – could have run in his place. Is it Black folks’ fault that white people are that afraid of us?

Did we make McAulliffe say that silly thing out loud so those white suburban parents could hear him

None of that has to do with “wokeism,” whatever that means. 

By the way, the issues Carville claims “woke” people make a big fuss about are largely covered on Fox News, which is designed to rile up its bigoted base. It would behoove Democrats to stop listening to a political relic and not only learn to talk about race and racism, but perhaps learn to buy some TV networks and stations the way the right does. After all, the current critical race theory conversation is based on a hoax and disinformation campaign created by Christopher Rufo, senior fellow of the Koch Brothers’ Manhattan Institute. Democrats need to learn to challenge racist propaganda, not further perpetuate it the way Carville and other lazy thinkers suggest. 

They should stop blaming us for their losses in the meanwhile.