“The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.”
- George Orwell
If the political forecasters were right, this year’s election cycle would have marked a historic landslide victory for the Democratic Party as they gained the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Instead, the mythical “blue wave” fizzled out into a splash long before the first ballot was even cast.
While President-Elect Biden won with a sizable lead in both the electoral and popular votes, the Democratic Party barely held its own in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Currently, the Senate majority will be decided by two Georgia run-offs, cementing the Senate as a hotly contested political battleground. The House saw multiple Democratic seats flip to the GOP and Republicans may be on track to win back the House in 2022.
How could Democrat’s expectations have been this wrong though? While they technically won in some areas, this victory should feel more like a dismal participation trophy rather than a resounding first place finish.
The echo chamber within the Party itself likely strengthened the ill-advised self confidence, as well as its ties with the media which spread the assumption of this easily won gold medal. This election should feel like a defeat even though they won — and it seems some Democrats in the House agree.
If Democrats truly want to emerge mightily victorious in the future, they must analyze why over 73 million people voted against them and their party. The analysis must be a brutally honest one for it to have any merit, and conclusions such as the opposition being “racists” or “fascists” are lazy responses which fail to examine the failures of the Democratic Party to reach out to millions of Americans.
On Friday night, Bill Maher — a vocal Democrat — addressed on his show that the biggest enemy to liberals is themselves. He stated that the woke culture which has permeated both the personal and professional world is halting the Democrat’s chances at flipping right-leaning voters.
Maher’s analysis could not be more astute. Phenomenon such as Political Correctness (PC) or “woke” culture are the very thing which created the political atmosphere in which a person like Donald Trump could thrive and rally supporters. Democrats created their own monster in this regard. While President Trump may be in office for only a few short months, the angst which propelled his political support is here to stay.
Common sense is no longer a staple of the individual thought for many of those who identify as Democrats and many subscribe to the belief that “if you don’t agree with me, you’re a racist and a bigot and your career should be destroyed.” To be clear, this mindset does not represent the beliefs of the party as a whole, but there are the cases of millions with which it is representative.
Fear has gripped many, as they struggle to articulate their thoughts, frightened if they may be the next ones to be “cancelled”. A frequent rebuttal to that is that cancel culture is not real and these are isolated incidents. Well, I would certainly like that to be the case, but as I type these very words, #FireGinaCarano is No.10 trending on Twitter.
You have likely seen a lot of Gina Carano in the past fews years, from her roles in “Deadpool” (2016) and also the more recent “The Mandalorian” series, as well as from her MMA career. Unfortunately for her, she has voiced concern over the integration of transgender athletes into MMA, as well as her vocal support of Donald Trump.
Now, whether or not Carano is correct in her beliefs is beside the point. All she did, however, is voice her beliefs in a free society and now thousands are calling for her to be blackballed from her industry and means of income due to her “flagrant transphobia.”
To the average moderate, this is a concerning movement that is gaining steam in the nation and that very concern is what pushes them into the arms of the GOP. In an effort to separate the “offensive” from our culture, it is simply creating the stage for Trumpism to grow and for cults of personality to expand in American politics.
Being offensive is not an inherently bad thing. Grouping that with malice and hatred is, however. We should all strive to be offensive every now and again, as it means something you just said struck a nerve and it symbolizes a discussion that is worth having. If you have never offended anyone, then you have never said anything that needed to be said at the risk of upsetting perhaps even 5% of your audience.
If we were to extract all offensive aspects of culture in an attempt to create a national “safe space,” no one's beliefs would ever be challenged and we as a society would become stagnant.
No one should misunderstand, this is not a problem that lies solely with Democrats. Facets of this culture extend into the right, but it is simply more pronounced within the left.
That being said, it is more of an ideological issue between Americans, not just between parties. Politico recently ran a poll regarding cancel or woke culture in everyday society and their findings were concerning, but also hopeful. They determined that if you examine the stats for every demographic, a majority believe that cancel culture is a dangerous path to follow and that it must end. More generally, however, they discovered that 46% of Americans believe cancel culture has gone too far, and also that a significant portion are not involved in social media and are not aware of digital exiling.
It is clear that these practices of wokeness and cancelling do not fall along the simple and clear lines of Republicans vs. Democrats. They are nuanced and blurred and seemingly a movement all in it’s own. That is not the perception however, as many on the right use this as an opportunity to decry the left as proponents of censorship. Even former President Obama has publicly condemned cancel culture. Earlier this year, he stated that people should “get over” their “idea of purity.”
This is overlooked by right wing pundits such as Ben Shapiro or Alex Jones, as they sensationalize this behavior as leftist censorship and blatant betrayal of the First Amendment. While it is censorship and betrayal of our rights, it is not only a leftist issue and to represent it as that is a political tool to sow division. While it may not swing Democrats to vote Republican, it definitely had an effect on Republicans considering a blue vote.
In the end, this is why the blue wave never hit. Millions upon millions are turned away by this type of behavior, and it will only continue to sow dissent within the nation. It is an unfortunate truth of life that perception is reality and right now, the Democratic Party is seen as the party of censorship to a significant portion of voters.
This is merely one of the many issues that are plaguing the Democratic Party at the present. Their public image is declining in some circles and this requires remedying if they hope to flip red voters and states. A death of a thousand cuts is the malady, and woke culture is only one of lacerations which are holding the Party back. True or not, the party of censorship is their current reputation and if Democrats are to truly have success in the coming decades, this divide needs to be addressed and these methods need to be halted.
Ian-Michael is a freshman studying Political Science and Journalism. Do you think “woke culture” has gone too far? Do you think it affected the presidential race? Send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org