Issues & Insights
A 'woke' demonstration. Photo: JMacPherson, licensed the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en).

The Real Cost Of ‘Woke’ Politics

To many, the poison that is identity politics can mainly be seen in the growing rifts and bitter divisions of the two main political parties. But as real as the Democrat/Republican split is, so-called Woke Politics has a far more insidious and far-reaching impact: It’s destroying Americans’ faith in the long-standing bedrock institutions of our republic.

It’s clear that Americans of different political affiliations no longer see eye to eye. Since at least the 19th century, the two major parties have never been farther apart in both governing philosophy and in policies.

For that, we can blame Critical Theory, the neo-Marxist philosophy that brought us “woke” politics based on racial and religious identity and that now governs the Democratic Party. It has led to widespread dissatisfaction, confusion, anger, and alienation among Americans.

But the damage, as we noted above, isn’t only to our now-hostile politics: It’s metastasized to other parts of American life and culture as well, as recent surveys plainly show.

Start with a recent survey of 2,022 Americans by RealClear Opinion Research. It compares Americans’ values and attitudes on a host of different topics.

And what it found was, in a word, troubling.

“Despite two years of economic upheaval culminating in the worst inflation in 40 years, our divisions are not primarily economic,” RCP’s Carl Cannon wrote. “Instead, they are driven by a host of social and cultural flashpoints ranging from perceptions of race, immigration policy, and transgender issues to voters’ feelings about the U.S. flag – and about America itself.”

The survey asked respondents to rank various statements on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Answers were compared with the same survey taken in 2018, roughly midway through President Trump’s term in office.

Some of the shifts in opinion are striking.

For instance, take the statement: “I have more fear than hope for America’s future.” In 2018, already a politically tumultuous time, 37% agreed; today, it’s 42%.

Some of the other value statements show similar big changes in just a few short years.

“The racial diversity in our country should make us stronger.” In 2018, 47% agreed; today, just 42% do.

America, a nation of immigrants? “New, legal immigrants to the U.S. are good for this country.” In 2018, 46% agreed; today, only 38% do.

How about: “Structural racism makes it difficult for Black and Hispanic Americans to get ahead.” At 38% in 2018 and 39% in 2022, the level of agreement was about the same; but the number who disagreed jumped from 24% in 2018 to 31% in 2022, a 29% rise.

“I have faith in the next generation of America’s leaders to move the country forward.” Those who agreed fell from 22% in 2018 to 17% in 2022, while those who disagreed surged from 19% to 29% in 2022.

Meanwhile, two other statements in the survey suggest a major political realignment underway:

“The Republican Party cares for people like me.” In 2018, 18% agreed, but 35% disagreed; in 2022, the numbers were 24% and 40%.

The Democrats fared worse. The share who agreed they care “for people like me” dropped from 26% in 2018 to 22% in 2022, below the GOP share, while the “disagree” faction jumped from 32% to 42%.

As we noted, that’s not the only recent opinion survey suggesting a major shift in American attitudes. More troubling than the RealClear results are those from a recent Pew Research survey.

That survey looked at Americans’ trust in key institutions and occupations, many of which have “gone woke” in recent years. They include, in descending order of general confidence, medical scientists, scientists, the military, police officers, public school principals, religious leaders, journalists, business leaders and, finally, elected officials.

Even among the highest, there has been a sharp decline in public confidence over the past year. Not one group is higher. And the gloomiest, who say they have “not too much/no confidence at all,” has grown for every group.

Americans are disaffected and alienated from their major institutions, the ones that they have trusted in the past to run smoothly in good times and bad. Increasingly, it seems, they see these institutions as tainted and captured by extremist, un-American beliefs.

This growing lack of trust even affects our major economic institutions, which sit atop the world’s largest and most prosperous economy and which used to be bastions of free-market thought.

A clear example: Bitcoin and other digital currencies. They’ve surged in popularity because people with financial assets no longer trust our major economic institutions to do their jobs. They feel unprotected.

And they should.

The recent surge in inflation, useless and damaging COVID lockdowns, declining real wages, soaring energy prices due to “green” policies, and a national debt of over $30 trillion are all symptoms of an underlying disease: our monetary (Federal Reserve) and fiscal (Congress, the president, U.S. Treasury) institutions increasingly have abandoned common-sense economics and the constitutional rule of law for identity politics and socialism.

The divisive, unworkable policies hatched by these bureaucratic advocates of race-driven identity politics don’t serve the interests of all Americans, but an elite few.

It’s a sad day when Americans no longer trust the institutions that once held our respect and helped us to thrive. Sadder still will be that day when Americans no longer believe that elections can fix the problem.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.

5 comments

  • The “Institutions” work well, the major problem is who stumbled their way to positions of authority and who have created an autocracy.

  • So many of the numbers have been mangled in this article (assuming what’s in the RCP table is correct) that it’s embarrassing.

  • Politicians on both sides care more about illegal aliens rights, than OUR rights as citizens. We aren’t blind, and WE are the ones who pay…and put up with the kids filling up our schools and money we don’t have going to translators for different languages. It isn’t right. There is an invasion on our Southern border, and they are more worried about Ukraines border.

  • I find it bleakly humorous that those who are “woke” act like they’re asleep at the wheel.

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