David Brooks taught me a new word, or at least a new usage, yesterday: woke.
I do a terrible job keeping up with popular culture and modern usages that spring from it. I have seen the word “woke” popping up a lot lately but haven’t paid it much attention. I get along fine without comprehending most popular culture. It doesn’t bother me that I have seen none of the “best of” television series or movies. I take in a good one now and then but generally assume the worst about them and don’t tune in. Is that a form of wokeness?
Maybe it is; maybe it isn’t. But I know with certainty that I am woke to Donald Trump. I don’t try to understand or tolerate him. It should be clear to any observer that everything he does is in his own and not the nation’s interest. Plus, he is rude, given to alternate realities, tasteless, not very smart, lies a lot and is far too materialistic for my value system. I could go on.
Brooks says there is a problem with my attitude and I yield to his wisdom. Brooks sums up the problem with wokeness in this way:
The greatest danger of extreme wokeness is that it makes it harder to practice the necessary skill of public life, the ability to see two contradictory truths at the same time.
And I don’t think he means alternative facts in the way DJT’s minions have attempted to cloak his lies. He gives the example of racism. Our dominant society was built on it and continues to be deep into it. At the same time, we have made some progress in learning to make a racist culture a little kinder to everyone since the days of legal slavery, total denial of citizen rights, and the open veneration of seditious defenders of – I yield to the cause as they prefer to describe it – states’ rights. We have done it by making some uncomfortable compromises along the way.
So what are we to do about this woke old southern white man who is a member of the very demographic that is credited with putting Trump in office? How should I deal with my wokeness problem?
Maybe this is a start. I understand something about the unaddressed needs of many of the folks in my demographic set. Some of us have gone without affordable health care, seen jobs going out of the country and salaries stagnating for years.
But only a demagogue would pitch that and ride it to political office blaming it on immigrants and welfare recipients without offering a single suggestion on how to make it all better without destroying the apparatus of stability that has been so carefully built by cooperating nations since the end of WWII.
So I will do my best to deal with my Trump wokeness by:
- Doing all I can to remove him from office by constitutional means (that includes taking control of the Electoral College in 2020)
- And by supporting the needs of his “base”. No one knows who that really is but I know that they have needs that bear no relationship to race, immigration, or the “deep state” whether they know it or not.
- Advising anyone who asks my advice that the first thing they should do is simply vote for a Democrat every chance they have.
Now, you may think that I am altogether too partisan in my advice. But I argue simply that the Republican Party has been fully corrupted by Trump and what he and the media like to call his “base”. The Republican party currently in power is the swamp. Once that swamp has been drained in fact, then we can get on with the business of fixing what’s wrong with America.
Yes, my Republican friends will help elect a lot of Democrats but more Democrats means more moderate Democrats and, ultimately, more moderate Republicans that you guys can feel comfortable with once again.
I remember the time Howard Dean got in trouble with his base for suggesting that Democrats need to appeal to the guys with Confederate flags on their pickup trucks. But he was exactly right. He never said the party had to be racist, only that we needed to appeal to the needs of people in the Old South and do our best to serve their needs for jobs, health care, and a world of peace. At least that’s what I heard. I did not hear an endorsement of the flag and the sedition it stands for.
I know a lot of old southern white guys. If you scratch below the surface, most of them are good people and patriots who have no interest in blatant racism or overthrowing the government. But it doesn’t bring out the best in them when the leading candidate in a major political party is out rousing the rabble to put himself over the top. A number of them will show up for Trump rallies to be used as props in the background of his photo ops.
Democrats! Welcome the others (your Republican friends) into the Democratic Party. They can help. We already know they want to make America great. But they have to accept the rules of their new party: racism, mysogyny, xenophobia and isolationism won’t make anything or anyone great and we won’t make policy on that basis. If we can’t keep you totally happy in the Democratic Party, just wait awhile until we all sort ourselves out again.
But Donald Trump? I’m wide awoke. And you should be, too, if you love your country. He’s a wannabe godfather and reality show snake oil salesman with no redeeming social value. We need to get him out of office as soon as we can along with his enablers in the U.S. Congress. And the people who know that need to start saying it out loud.