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Ron DeSantis & the GOP's Anti-Wokeness Campaign Fizzle Out as the Republican Debates Begin

Until last night at the first Republican debate, Gov. Ron DeSantis had made his anti-wokeness message the centerpiece of his campaign to capture the Republican nomination, but he may be starting to learn its limitations.

The problem with his anti-wokeness campaign is that it sounds like a bunch of older white folks at a bar extolling the virtues of America in the 1950s when blacks and women knew their place [or lack thereof], climate change meant you were considering a trip to Florida, Christine Jorgensen was the only transsexual anyone knew, a gallon of gas and a pack of smokes cost a quarter, and the only solar item you owned was the sunlamp you used to get a tan in January. Facebook is awash in memes celebrating the wonders of America's past, and it's one of the reasons that young people have abandoned the platform.

Yes, older Americans get a bit irritated with learning new pronouns and diversity trainings that teach them to be better human beings, but few are losing sleep over it. Gov. DeSantis's attacks on black history, books, abortion rights, Disney, the LGBT community, corporate diversity and ESG policies, green energy policies, and our real history, sell well on right-wing talk radio but aren't the most important issues to Republican voters.

The Messenger: "To be sure, the culture wars are still animating conservative cable news shows, social media debates and campaign trail speeches. But polling has shown that GOP voters see the culture wars to be a distraction and would rather candidates focus on economics, crime and national security."
Politico: "New polling from the CAP Action Fund — an organization affiliated with the liberal Center for American Progress think tank — found a majority of voters, including a majority of Republicans, support corporations being environmentally and socially responsible ..."

While Donald Trump’s popularity with the Republican base, especially older voters and evangelicals [inexplicably] is one reason DeSantis’ numbers are cratering, the Governor's focus on cultural issues is likely a factor as well. A poll of Republican voters released recently by the New York Times and Siena College showed that just 24% would be most likely to support a candidate who “focuses on defeating radical ‘woke’ ideology in our schools, media and culture.”

The reality is that the majority of Republican voters have never even met a transgendered individual, really like their kid's teachers, don't support whitewashing US history classes, care at least a little about environmental issues like climate change, and now grudgingly support gay rights. And some are coming to realize that Gov. DeSantis's anti-woke policies sound a little too much like racist dog whistles, especially after Florida released new standards on black history including instruction on the benefits of slavery.

Moreover, even older conservatives realize that no politician is going to turn back the clock on American culture and that they and their children have to forge a better future that includes blacks, women, Hispanics, and the LGBT community. They may desire to move slower than Democrats and Gen Z in addressing workplace diversity, climate change, and social justice, but they understand that we aren't returning to the 1950s.

As Republicans cast their primary ballots in 2024, they will be more focused on the same bread-and-butter issues that have defined our politics for generations. If someone is going to break out of the pack and challenge Donald Trump for the Republican nomination, they will have to craft a serious agenda that addresses real, concrete concerns rather than DeSantis's grab bag of anti-woke nonsense.

By: Don Lam & Curated Content


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