It’s not every day that a former president correctly diagnoses and rejects a cancer that plagues his own party and society at large.
But before we get there…
On a recent episode of Dr. Phil, BASEDPolitics’ Brad Polumbo had an exchange with two left-leaning women who argued that freedom of speech and expression is more limited today—and should be. Watch how comfortable and casual the women are in explaining this new norm:
"You're free to say whatever u want, just deal with the repercussions."
Me & @glukianoff had to refute some woke Gen Zers on Dr. Phil when they tried to defend cancel culture as both good progress & nothing new (bc that's consistent!).
— Brad Polumbo 🇺🇸⚽️🏳️🌈 (@brad_polumbo) October 15, 2022
Note that the first woman began by insisting that using stereotypes in comedic stand-up is no longer permissible. In 2021, comedian Dave Chappelle performed a wildly popular special on Netflix called “The Closer” which was chocked full of stereotypes and worse. On purpose. The mob tried to cancel him for not adhering to their new rules for people like him.
It didn’t work.
Why did he make his special? In his own words:
"The more you say I can't say something, the more urgent it is for me to say it."
— Forbes (@Forbes) July 8, 2022
Without even using the word himself, to my knowledge, Chappelle was exposing ‘wokeism’ for what it truly is: A complete rejection of liberalism.
Many, especially on the Right, like to paint being woke as being concerned about issues related to social justice or identity politics. These are typical components of wokeism but not what actually defines the philosophy.
In a liberal society, I have the right to an opinion and so does my neighbor. Those opinions can differ, we can agree to disagree and everyone respects this arrangement.
For the woke, there is one allowable opinion and anyone who disagrees must be canceled, silenced, fired, and not tolerated in any way.
That’s what the left-leaning women were explaining to my friend and colleague Brad in the Dr. Phil video.
Rejecting that totalitarian mindset and flushing it down the toilet as his audience of millions joined him in mocking it, is why Chappelle did what he did and does what he does.
And it is how woke mobs must be met.
The attack on Dave Chappelle is just another example of how too many “woke" Americans hate freedom of speech — so they try to shut it down through censoring, violence, or intimidation.
— Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) May 5, 2022
Chappelle isn’t the only high-profile personality in recent times to define and reject wokeism.
An interview with Barack Obama over the weekend got extra attention when the former Democratic president chided his party for being “buzzkills.”
“My family, my kids, work that gives me satisfaction, having fun,” Obama told the ‘Pod Save America’ podcast on Friday. “Hell, not being a buzzkill. And sometimes Democrats are. Sometimes people just want to not feel as if they are walking on eggshells, and they want some acknowledgment that life is messy and that all of us, at any given moment, can say things the wrong way, make mistakes.”
This sounds like Obama expressing a preference for a liberal society over a woke one. The ability to disagree. To make mistakes. To merely have a different opinion even if it’s controversial.
Obama then appeared to say anyone in any group has a right to an opinion in a truly free society.
“I think where we get into trouble sometimes is where we try to suggest that some groups are more…because they historically have been victimized more…that somehow they have a status that’s different than other people and we’re going around scolding folks if they don’t use exactly the right phrase,” he said.
Obama added, “Or that identity politics becomes the principal lens through which we view our various political challenges.”
"Democrats can be [buzzkills], right? Sometimes people just want to not feel as if they are walking on eggshells… and that all of us at any given moment can say things the wrong way, make mistakes."
— Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) October 14, 2022
Obama was saying this in the context of how a woke approach to politics or Democrats’ obsession with identity politics could potentially hurt his own party in the upcoming midterm elections and beyond.
But what he was also saying, whether he meant to or not, is that too many American progressives have fallen into this anti-liberal mindset concerning speech, and he appeared to recognize and warn against it.
I have never thought wokeism would ultimately prevail in the United States because people accustomed to living in a free society would eventually push back on mobs demanding they give up their most basic rights. (For reasons defined solely by those mobs.)
For the last two to three years, it feels like we are on the other side of the height of the woke madness. I keep looking for mile markers in what I believe is its continuing fall. I felt like the Dave Chappelle controversy a year ago was one of them. When the woke mob tried to cancel the world’s most popular podcaster, Joe Rogan, this year—and failed miserably—that was probably another sign.
Barack Obama calling wokeism what it is and denouncing it last week is probably another.