Will Being Anti-Woke Be Enough for Republicans in 2024?

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Wokeness has been a hot topic in Republican politics for years. Indeed, it was one of the reasons why former President Donald Trump won the 2016 election. Since then, Republicans and conservatives have highlighted wokeism as one of their favorite targets and, in some cases, have successfully used the issue to energize their base.

It is not difficult to see why the issue has become so pressing and why the conversation over the matter has become even more charged when it crept into the education system. Before, it seemed wokeism was only an issue in the university, media, the military, and other institutions. When it is being promoted among adults, it was bad enough. But when the nation realized so-called progressives were trying to infuse far-leftist ideas on race, gender, and sexuality in the classroom, a fierce backlash ensued, and Republican politicians took notice.

As a result, conservative leaders have sought the support of the base by branding themselves as anti-woke and vociferously speaking out against efforts to promote ideas related to critical race theory in the classroom while encouraging transgenderism among small children. Indeed, it is a fight worth fighting for the most part. But is it enough for the GOP to seize more power in 2024?

While former President Donald Trump has already thrown his hat into the ring, he has not used anti-wokeism as his primary branding effort. Yes, he does oppose wokeism and has spoken about it publicly. However, he also focuses more on other topics when he is making his case for the nomination, so I won’t be focusing much on him in this article.

Vivek Ramaswamy, a successful entrepreneur, recently announced that he would be seeking the Republican presidential nomination for 2024. As a 35-year-old businessman who founded multiple biotech companies, he has made quite a name for himself as an author and pundit. Now, he has set his sights on the White House.

A key part of Ramaswamy’s platform is eliminating affirmative action, tackling Big Tech censorship, and establishing political speech as a civil right. Indeed, much of his rhetoric has focused on government-enforced racial preferences in education and corporate America. He told the Daily Mail that no president has dared to end affirmative action because they “fear political backlash.”

“I don’t have that fear of political backlash. I’m going to do it,” he declared.

The candidate has written two books about the threat of wokeism and social justice Marxism, so it makes sense that he would focus on this issue. Indeed, he even took a potshot at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is also seen as a frontrunner even though he has not yet announced his intention to run for the presidency.

“It’s really in vogue for Republicans to be talking about woke-ism,’ Ramaswamy said. “I don’t think they – you find somebody who understands these issues at the level of granularity that I do and I will be thrilled, because I have been trying to educate this – the base of leadership for a long time, and they’re trying their best.”

“At the state-level, that’s fine – they can be good foot soldiers in this battle,” he continued. “But if you’re talking about a national identity revival, I think you need somebody who understands this deeply and is actually empowered and unafraid to do something about it.”

However, Ramaswamy has not made wokeism his sole issue. He also seeks to take on the climate cult and has pledged to dissolve federal agencies like the Department of Education.

Speaking of DeSantis, he could be seen as the prototype of the anti-woke politician. He and his team have done a masterful job at positioning him as the conservative champion against the woke left. During his first term as governor, he championed controversial pieces of legislation intended to curb the influence of far-left progressivism in schools and elsewhere.

The Parental Rights in Education Act and the Stop WOKE Act helped DeSantis establish his anti-woke bonafides by addressing the problem of gender ideology and critical race theory in the classroom. This earned him the ire of the hard left, who was already irate with him for not embracing onerous COVID lockdown orders in Florida.

Most recently, DeSantis defiantly declared that Florida is the state where “woke goes to die,” further endearing him to the base. He also made headlines when the state’s education department rejected an AP African American studies course created by the College Board because it contained woke material.

Both of these candidates seem to have built their brands almost entirely on opposing the woke left and fighting the culture war. But will this be enough?

Wokeness is still viewed as a threat to the conservative base. The left’s reliance on pretending it cares about supposedly marginalized peoples and branding conservatives as slobbering bigots has only infuriated them more. They want to have someone in office who will push back on these folks.

However, being anti-woke isn’t going to be enough to defeat Democrats in 2024. When it comes to issues like transing kids and teaching them that everything is racist, most Americans side against the woke crowd. But this does not mean they will be willing to give the White House to Republicans if they appear not to stand for anything else.

The bottom line is that these candidates are still going to have to articulate solutions to the problems Americans are facing. If the nation’s current economic situation is any indication, things aren’t going to get better anytime soon and anyone who wants to occupy the Oval Office needs to show how they are going to ease the burden.

To put it simply, most Americans are not concerned about affirmative action at the moment. Moreover, other than the extreme examples of transing kids, even race issues are not at the forefront of people’s attention. People are concerned about their pocketbooks. They are concerned about the quality of education, along with the indoctrination issues. People want to feel safe, which means crime also needs to be addressed.

Interestingly enough, Trump is the only one who has discussed these issues at length. To be fair, DeSantis has not yet announced, so perhaps he will have plans for these things. But the fact remains, any Republican candidate who wishes to challenge the Democrat in 2024 will need to be more than anti-woke. They must come up with solutions.


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