Former President Barack Obama thinks Democrats can be a bit of a “buzzkill,” too easily offended by offhand comments and the complicated scenarios of modern life, he said in a podcast interview late last week.
“How does politics even – how does it relate to the things that matter most to me? My family, my children, a job that gives me satisfaction, having fun, that’s not being a fan, is it?” Obama he said in an interview With “Pod Save America.” “And sometimes they’re Democrats, aren’t they? You know, sometimes people don’t want to feel like they’re walking on eggshells. And they want some kind of acknowledgment that life is messy and that we can all say things wrong at any moment, make mistakes.”
Obama is publicly addressing a concern long voiced privately by Democratic strategists: that the party’s liberal base is so focused on “wokeness” and the possibility of offending certain interest groups that they are losing sight of the broader thread of conversation with voters. really care
James Carville, a longtime Democratic strategist, has been more strident – certainly than Obama – in denouncing the focus on awakening.
“We’re letting one noisy wing of our party define the rest of us,” Carville said last summer. “And my point is that we can’t do that. I think all these people are nice people. I think they are very naive, and they are all about language and identity. And that’s fine. They are not attacking the Capitol. But they are not winning the elections.”
And then, when Republicans won the governorship in Virginia 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 Seattle, Washington. I mean, that crazy ‘getting rid of the police’, getting Abraham Lincoln’s name off the schools. I mean, people see that.”
He added: “Some of these people have to go to a detox center or another. They’re expressing a language that people don’t use, and that creates backlash and frustration.”
While there may be debate within Democratic circles about the awakening, there is no doubt that Republicans see an opportunity.
Advertisements debated in the midterm campaigns have accused Democrats of supporting measures to defund the police and scrapping bail bonds. An ad running against Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate Mandela Barnes opens with a fiery image of the riots, asking “do you feel safe?” The ad ends by misquoting: “Mandela Barnes: She’s with them, not us.”
Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, has built a successful national brand against the so-called woke culture. Earlier this year, DeSantis signed a bill called the Stop Woke Act, which 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 not to have an oppressive ideology imposed on you without your consent,” DeSantis said of the legislation. “And we decided to do something.”
House Republicans have received that message. Part of the “America’s Pledge” 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 about waking up. Instead, it suggests operating from a place of understanding for those still evolving in thought, and not assuming their worst motives.
Obama cites his mother-in-law as a case in point. “She’s 86 years old, you know, and sometimes when we’re talking about things trying to get the right phraseology, it’s like Michelle, it’s like trying to learn Spanish. It doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t try to learn Spanish, but it does mean that sometimes he won’t understand the words correctly. And that’s good, right?”
It is this attitude of understanding that is “a little more realistic and a little more grounded,” according to Obama, that would help Democrats. He said “I think it goes a long way in countering the systematic propaganda that Fox News and these other outlets are doing all the time.”