San Francisco has had enough. The city’s mayor recently declared that “the reign of criminals who are destroying our city, it is time for it to come to an end,” and she promised to “take the steps to be more aggressive with law enforcement.”
Her get-tough pledge is, of course, shameless — if only there had been a municipal leader who could have done something before now! — but when wokeness has lost the mayor of San Francisco, it has a public-relations problem.
Following electoral defeats in Virginia, and facing a likely wipeout in next year’s midterm elections, many Democrats are scrambling away from identity politics. From crime to education to the workplace, it poisons everything, and Americans are sick of it.
Thus, we may hope that Scott McConnell is correct in predicting that wokeness “will be rolled back, its practitioners and cultural preferences first widely mocked and then ignored, its victims rehabilitated and in some cases honored.” But we should not be too sure; even if wokeness is politically toxic now, it might nonetheless win in the long run.
Identity politics’ likely resilience was highlighted in a response by Ed West as well as in a Reason article by Greg Lukianoff chronicling how the first wave of political correctness in the 1990s persisted despite its unpopularity. Put simply, identity politics holds power in key institutions, especially in tech, academia, education, the media, and Big Business. While voter anger might spook politicians on issues such as crime, wokeness in all its forms will be hard to root out of its institutional fortresses.
Thus, identity politics will remain as a powerful force in American life even if Democratic politicians avoid and downplay its more unpopular ideas (and they aren’t all giving up yet). Like a weed, snicking the head off wokeness will not kill it. Unless it is actively uprooted, wokeness will continue to embed itself within powerful institutions, just as it was doing before it broke into public view over the last few years.