Who’s Winning The War?

The title doesn’t refer to the Ukraine versus Russia war–instead, I want to talk about a far more protracted conflict: America’s culture war.

A few days ago, I shared my opinion that culture will ultimately overwhelm politics. A few days after that, a Washington Post column by Eugene Robinson highlighted a relevant University of Chicago survey of that culture. It appears–and the op-ed is titled–that “wokeness is winning.”

“Wokeness” is winning, according to an illuminating new poll that should — but probably won’t — make Republican politicians wary of hitching their wagon to the anger-fueled culture wars.

The survey — conducted this month by the nonpartisan research institute NORC at the University of Chicago, with funding from the Wall Street Journal — found that on several hot-button issues related to “wokeness”, substantial majorities of Americans believe our progress toward inclusion and diversity is on the right track.

Given the ferocity of current attacks on trans people, it was comforting to learn that 56% of respondents thought that social acceptance of people who are transgender, “has been about right” or “has not gone far enough.”  The opposing view– that we have “gone too far” in accepting transgender people–was held by 43 percent of those surveyed. 

And as Robinson noted, the results just got “more woke” from there.

On “promoting equality between men and women,” 86 percent took the woke “about right” or “not gone far enough” positions, as opposed to 12 percent who espoused the anti-woke “gone too far” view. On “accepting people who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual,” the poll found respondents to be 69 percent woke versus 29 percent anti-woke. On “businesses taking steps to promote racial and ethnic diversity,” woke beat anti-woke, 70 percent to 28 percent. And on “schools and universities taking steps to promote racial and ethnic diversity,” wokeness ruled once again, 67 percent to 30 percent.

Even on the subject of pronouns, which GOP demagogues have sought to shift from the grammatical realm to the political, 58 percent of respondents were neutral or favorable toward the practice of specifying “he/him, she/her or they/them” in emails, on social media or in conversations; 42 percent were unfavorable. And on the narrower question of “being asked” to address someone with gender-neutral pronouns such as “they/them,” those polled were evenly divided.

When the survey asked about the GOP’s current effort to ban “inappropriate” materials from the nation’s classrooms, the results were gratifying: 61 percent of respondents  were concerned that “some schools may ban books and censor topics that are educationally important.”  Only 36 percent worried that “some schools may teach books and topics that some students or their parents feel are inappropriate or offensive.”

Of course, 36% is still a troubling number, especially since these are the people most likely to be making noise and challenging educational choices. As Robinson notes, the poll results are unlikely to deter MAGA activists from “hectoring school boards to yank classics such as Nobel laureate Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” from library shelves.”

And don’t get me started about the parents who got a Florida school principal fired because a teacher in the school showed students “pornography”–aka Michelangelo’s David.

The least surprising finding of the survey was its confirmation of the partisan divide– a  divide Robinson characterized as stark.

Seventy-five percent of respondents who identified as Republicans said we have “gone too far” in accepting transgender people, as opposed to just 15 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of independent voters. Majorities of Republicans also took the “gone too far” position on gay, lesbian and bisexual acceptance, and on promoting diversity in businesses, schools and universities — versus minorities of Democrats and independents who hold those views.

As other media have reported, the one area in which the survey showed less of a partisan divide was on the issue of gun control. It found 

“broad public support for a variety of gun restrictions, including many that are supported by majorities of Republicans and gun owners….71% of Americans say gun laws should be stricter, including about half of Republicans, the vast majority of Democrats and a majority of those in gun-owning households.”

Overall, the survey confirmed what most Americans understand: American citizens’ partisan affiliations are no longer based primarily on economics or policy preferences. Instead, they reflect profoundly different values, and contending perspectives on Americanism and the common good.

The good news is that Americans who are “woke”–who value inclusion and respect for individual rights– are in the majority. The bad news is that–thanks to gerrymandering and outmoded electoral structures– MAGA Republicans and White Christian Nationalists retain far more positions of authority than they should be entitled to hold in a democratic system, given their minority status.  

The silent majority has evolved, and it’s woke. Now its members need to get out the vote. 


  1. Thanks for some good news. NOW if we could get somebody who is skilled at framing political issues to come up with something other than WOKE. It just sounds stupid. Repellent. Maybe some of the smart former R’s who jumped ship because of Trump could come up with something better.

  2. Whether the “head in the sand” faction is the majority, the minority or middle-of-the-road; their deemed questionable issues will not go away by banning or burning books. Word-of-mouth will spread the information, usually from a personal view of whatever the issue is, and is too often wrong as these polls prove. Sex education in schools has been fought against since the middle of the last century, if not before, parents can’t get beyond their mind-set that their innocent little angels will be taught how to have sex; something they probably already know…or suspect the basics. Now; that would need to include education regarding LGBTQs and transgenders which is a medical issue, not a moral issue and certainly an issue which should not be decided by politicians using it as their campaign foundation.

    Florida’s dead asleep reaction to the showing of Michelangelo’s statue of David and the banning of the movie “Ruby” is not confined within the Florida state lines. The numbers of pregnant teenage girls in schools, and dropouts, speaks loud and clear that the lack of basic knowledge needs to be addressed. The “All In The Family” episode when Gloria is trying to explain menopause to Edith to calm her fears and Edith’s response, “When I was a young girl I didn’t know everything every young girl should know. Now I’m an old lady and I don’t know everything every old lady should know.” is true today due to the lack of education systems being “woke” as to what needs to be taught in schools. And most parents do not have the answers to questions their children are too embarrassed to ask or have wrong answers due to their own lack of knowledge or education.

  3. Patmcc,

    That person you long for is Stacey Abrams.

    When a movement or group is being threatened with extinction, they will lash out. Republicans are desperate and getting more so every day. But the bottom line remains: VOTE.

    Tucker Carlson said on his show the other night that this might not be a good time to get rid of your AR-15s. Incitement? You bet. Abuse of the 1st Amendment. Of course. Fox can’t afford to lose a single one of their demented, unwoke audience. It’s the ratings after all. Gee. I wonder what will happen when the jury nails Fox for billions in a plethora of suits. Will their cost accountants raise the rates for their advertisers?

    The facts above that show the majority – in various degrees – is accepting/converting to/believing in wokeness shows once again that the GOP is running backwards as fast as they can. The thing is, there’s a cliff on the retro-side too. Creatures like MTG and Lauren Boebert and Matt Goetz are going off one of those cliffs in the not-too-distant future.


  4. Vernon; the Republicans’ repeated projection that Democrats have “weaponized” the Judicial system, et al, seems to be working for them. Meanwhile; they have “weaponized” the entire country by abuse of the 1st Amendment to abuse the 2nd Amendment and we are plagued with the resulting mass shootings by the public armed with AR-15 weapons purchased legally due to refusal to apply common sense requirements to purchase military level weapons.

    The “weaponized” Judicial system at long last has filed an indictment of our primary national criminal by using laws written to protect victims. It is still only a “Breaking News” issue; who knows what the hell Trump will do between today and Tuesday; it is highly doubtful Trump knows what his plans are. There is nothing to stop him from legally leaving the country between now and Tuesday and he has many sources of sanctuary where he would be safe from all of our laws. Trump may not be “woke” to those opportunities but his gangs of attorneys are well aware and they have the money to travel the globe to evade arrest. He may claim the title “Former President” but at this time he is merely a private citizens with more money than sense.

  5. I am beginning to like the ‘woke’ brand. Every time Sleepy Hollow attempts to evoke the woke, don’t you just love it when we utter at best a yawn.

  6. I’m not sure woke folks are just culturally woke. I know many in the local LGBT crowd who are selfish and serve the Rs because they derive a living from them. They advocate for gay rights, but that’s as far as it goes. They don’t support workers’ rights – if they do, they are silent about them.

    I’m more progressive than many of the LGBT crowd.

    Jefferson was enlightened and knew what would happen if the “economic wolves” gained a slight advantage in our society. His fears were realized quickly.

  7. I may not be able to comment on woke, since I woke this morning to find the local Gannett rag front to back, top to bottom full of right wing outrage over the indictment of citizen tRump. I’m just thankful that my college roommate had texted Trae Crowder’s take on it.

  8. Trea is the best.

    What are these evangelicals going to do next week when all their banners say
    “He has Risen” ?


  9. We need a charismatic Democratic leader like Obama to lead the “woke” to defeat the culture warriors.

  10. Sheila, this is the second day I have not been able to share your post on Facebook or by any other method. This makes me very sad. What’s happening?

  11. Anne–and others who may have noticed the absence of a share button: the problem is evidently with the sharing service. The buttons stopped working and my son took them off the page until the problem is resolved, to avoid frustration. If the sharing service doesn’t fix the problem within the next few days (my son says the company may have ceased business), he will have to replace them with a different service.

    One way or another, they’ll return, but it may take a couple of weeks. In the meantime, you can copy the post’s URL and paste it to Facebook or Twitter.

  12. Yes, Stacey Abrams!! Intelligent and charismatic, but, maybe some time down the road, as an intelligent, black female just might be too much for the culture just yet, I fear.

  13. At the top of my list of things that need to be taught in schools is Critical Thinking Skills. Let’s define WOKE.on our terms. We need T-shirts and bumper stickers that say “Critical Thinking is Woke.”

  14. patmcc, Maybe some of those smart Republicans who jumped ship could adopt the slogan “I woke up, why haven’t you?”

  15. So, was the old picture of “partisan affiliations” really based on economics and policy, or were those
    just a veneer, a proxy, for the same issues of racial, and religious bigotry?
    Still, if the “Woke” folks are winning perhaps it will keep TFG, and DeFascist out of the WH.
    A sad thing is that there are still so many people still worshiping at the Orange Ogre’s feet: on my
    morning walk, today, I passed a fellow speaking on his cell phone and telling his buddy that “As Trump
    said, ‘If they can do this to me, they can do it to you.'” Blind as a bat? Dumber than a bag of hammers?
    Inextricably caught up in his bubble.

  16. Tim W – “We need a charismatic Democratic leader like Obama to lead the “woke” to defeat the culture warriors.” Besides the color of the President, nothing basically changed with Obama in charge (plus the bad luck of the economic disaster). So, unfortunately, voters’ views would likely be “fool me once that real change is going to happen”…

  17. Sharon – LOVE the slogan

    So, I am hardly surprised. The whole MAGA movement, and its predecessors, has always been the last gasps of a fading reality.

    Waves of immigrants, from the time Ben Franklin complained about the Germans flooding Pennsylvania, women demanding equality (and the autonomy provided by “The Pill”), the country becoming more diverse than ever, and now the LGBTQ community out of the closet – stop the world, I want to get off!!!

    Except the world is still spinning and you can’t turn back the clock. Whether it is fear of loss of status or simply being so overwhelmed by change that they fear they won’t be able to cope, or a bit of both, the “anti-woke” people want to cling to a mythical past that never was, in which they were the important people and nothing ever changed.

    My only questions are (1) how soon will the “woke” population be able to exert power, and (2) how much damage will MAGA world do before then.

    I am not waiting for a charismatic leader (although I do wish for better issue framing). I supported one once, warts and all, but someone killed Bobby.

    Vernon (and other commenters today) are right. We just have to get off of our seats and vote, and encourage others to do the same.

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