Ehrlich: The Culture Wars Are at an Inflection Point - Time Is of the Essence


What to think about the adjective “woke”?

You are likely familiar with woke’s recent history. Although originally (and typically) applied in the context of race and race consciousness, it has metastasized into a catch-all descriptor in the promotion of progressive environmental, corporate and cultural goals.

Of course, the application of woke to matters large and small is intended to be a most serious business. Accordingly, millions of people feel compelled to daily fall in line. This is particularly true for those who rent space within America’s cultural and intellectual elite.

Woke — whether so labeled or not — is now everywhere. A profound transformation of our language, institutions, values, behaviors and culture is the ultimate goal. And time is of the essence. After all, adherents believe that an inherently racist and craven capitalist empire requires fundamental transformation.

But all is not copacetic in woke world. Two years into the Biden era’s program, America is getting angrier and more polarized. (Whatever did happen to candidate Biden, the guy who was so eager to heal a divided nation?)

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Woke’s role in the creation of our polarized country is easy to understand: The ideology jettisons objective truth in the cause of a more “equitable” world.

Here, truth becomes personalized, even replaceable with what is characterized as “your truth” — per the sitting vice president of the United States, no less. Note that your truth always carries the day here, even when in direct conflict with… actual truth. And once truth becomes proprietary, real damage occurs. Check out these real-world outcomes for context:

Woke immigration policy enriches human traffickers and drug cartels and enfeebles the good people we pay to protect us at the border.

Woke elementary education empowers grade school teachers to pre-empt parental rights in the teaching of sex education and declares 6-year-olds either “oppressor” or “oppressed.”

Woke secondary education declares math is racist and seeks to eliminate high school gifted and talented programs because some kids… are not gifted and talented.

Woke post-secondary education degrades the free speech rights of the un-woke on campus.

Woke college administrators have redefined the phrase “female athlete.”

Woke law enforcement uses federal assets to investigate protesting parents at school board meetings.

Woke criminal justice policies unleash violent criminals back on the streets after a wink and a nod and terrorize law-abiding people in our poorest neighborhoods.

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Woke homeless policy deinstitutionalizes the drug-addicted and mentally ill and places them back on the streets.

Woke energy policy shutters pipelines and gas fields while begging the world’s despots for their more costly (and dirty) fossil fuels.

Woke at the Pentagon minimizes the existential threat that is the Chinese Communist Party.

Woke housing policy penalizes mortgage borrowers with good credit in order to subsidize those with poor credit.

Woke at work makes your 401k shrink.

Woke is so daunting, a Supreme Court nominee was unwilling to define the term “woman.”

The foregoing list is not exhaustive, but you get the point: Woke represents an inflection point in our modern culture wars.

Those of you who not so long ago thought the reaction to such transformative ideas was overhyped — or just another invention of all those Fox-watching flyover types who voted for “you-know-who” the last two election cycles — should probably take note.

Once you do so, please understand your next chance to do something about all of this is Nov. 5, 2024. You might want to note that date on your calendar.

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Robert Ehrlich is a former governor of Maryland as well as a former U.S. congressman and state legislator. He is the author of “Bet You Didn’t See That One Coming: Obama, Trump, and the End of Washington’s Regular Order,” in addition to “Turn This Car Around,” “America: Hope for Change" and “Turning Point.” Ehrlich is currently a counsel at the firm of King & Spalding in Washington, D.C.