The next time some smug “progressive” calls me a “centrist” with that whiff of moral superiority those on the woke left brandish in every conversation, I think I might explode. Or maybe just cut a bitch.
I support universal health care and an aggressive climate agenda that gets us to net zero emissions within a decade. I am obsessed with preserving our oceans and wildlife. I support an array of creative taxation schemes on not only the income but also the accumulated wealth of the rich. I want to dump trillions into the economy right now to help the unemployed and small businesses. I support a guaranteed income for all, intergenerational wealth-building for those from poor families, heavy subsidies for skills-training and college, significant gun control, a dramatic reduction in military spending, and full acceptance of trans-Americans in all spheres of life, including active military service.
I personally pay more in income, payroll and property taxes than a typical Scandinavian with my income—and provide my employees with gold-level health coverage, even though my businesses are under great stress from COVID. I spent a good chunk of my youth fighting for LGBT rights and against police misconduct—and can claim some significant successes. And I have no equal when it comes to my contempt for racists, Trumpists and religious bigots.
I’m a progressive where it counts and I put my money where my mouth is.
What I’m not is a Woke Lefty. I don’t police others’ speech. I don’t score points. I don’t see everything through the lens of victimization. I don’t make moral claims based on my race, gender or sexual orientation, nor do I use those claims as a weapon. I want to win elections, not just talk about winning them. I am proud to be an American and see progress in our national story, not just a continuation of oppression. I don’t think white supremacy is the driving force in our culture and regard such views as a new form of religion—impervious to evidence and reason and based primarily on emotion and a very human need to feel morally superior.
Trumpism didn’t evolve in a vacuum. It emerged from the deep ugliness and tribalism of the right, particularly the religious right, with its propensity for magical thinking and its intrinsic love of authoritarianism. But its appeal expanded to half the electorate because a lot of ordinary white people—and quite a few people of color—are tired of being called racists and deplorables and looked down on by the purveyors of this new Woke religion. That has to stop now.
We on the left need to build a politics of 75 percent—not 50 percent—of the country. I am determined to do that—and that means rejecting the rhetoric of the woke left, not only because it is misguided, but also because it is self-destructive, needlessly divisive and of no practical value. It is killing our ability to really change the country. And for what? So a few smug hipsters, Hollywood-types and editorial writers can wag their fingers and feel good about themselves? Politics isn’t primarily about identity, nor is it even a belief system, like religion. It is a tool, a crude, blunt tool that requires strategy, coalition-building and compromise, driven primarily by reason, not emotion. And it most certainly isn’t about feeling morally superior to others.
So take your wokeness back to campus and stay there. The rest of us have real work to do. ￼
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