James Carville changed the face of Democratic politics when he spearheaded the election of Bill Clinton in 1992.
Gone were the New Deal echoes. In their place was Third Way-ism – the idea that liberalism had run its course in the country and the way for Democrats to win was to find a new, more moderate path in between the two traditional parties.
All of which is a long-winded way of saying that Carville was far ahead of his time – and managed to set a course for Democrats to win the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential contests – dating back to 1992.
So when Carville speaks about the state of the Democratic Party, he’s very much worth listening to. Carville did just that – speak – in an interview with Vox’s Sean Illing this week. And he went OFF on the PC culture of “wokeness” coursing through his party.
“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.”
Asked by Illing why not, Carville responded succinctly: “Because they’ll get clobbered or canceled.”
Whether you agree with Carville or not, there’s documented proof that he is right. The rise of former President Donald Trump was built on the idea that Democrats and the media were trying to tell you what you should think and feel. And if what you actually thought or felt was outside of that prescribed view, that you were out-of-step or intolerant or even a bigot.
In NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll conducted shortly after the 2018 midterm elections, a clear majority of people (52%) said they were “against the country becoming more politically correct and upset that there are too many things people can’t say anymore.” Just 36% said that they were “in favor of the United States becoming more politically correct and like when people are being more sensitive in their comments about others.”
All of this has happened as the base of the Democratic Party has grown more liberal on virtually every issue, while the base of the Republican Party has grown even more conservative.
That latter trend is why Trump has now taken to blasting the enforcement of fair elections as “WOKE CANCEL CULTURE.” He’s using the term as a sort of umbrella description of anything he doesn’t like, which, of course, is not the same thing as “wokeness” or “cancel culture.”
But don’t let Trump’s ridiculousness distract you. Carville is tapping into a very real sentiment in the electorate, and one that goes well beyond just Republican base voters.
The Point: With the Democratic House and Senate majorities very much up for grabs next November, look for Republican candidates and leaders to try to make the midterm elections a referendum on “wokeness.”