Thursday, July 11, 2024

Update: Some Political Trends are Headed in the Right Directions as Wokeness is in Decline.

by Rod Williams, June 12, 2024- It is hard to find political developments to be encouraged about these days. The Republican Party has become a Trump cult and abandoned principled conservatism. Republicans and Democrats do not only disagree; they hate each other. They think the other side is not only wrong, but evil. Political divisions mean Republicans and Democrats cannot be friends or often even worship in church together. 

We are losing control of the seas, and it is doubtful we could counter an aggressive China. As we head for a financial cliff, no one it seems is concerned about the national debt or entitlement reform. Republicans oppose aid to Ukraine and would let Russia just take it and Democrats hand out aid too slowly and with too many restrictions to let Ukraine win. Regardless of who wins the 2024 election, we will likely experience violence and chaos. I could go on, but most news is bad news and I see little to be encouraged about.

Despite the above tone of gloom and doom and list of reasons to despair however, there are a few developments that are encouraging. With so many bad political developments, some trends in the right direction have gone almost unnoticed and uncommented upon, yet to me these developments seem significant. It appears that political wokeness is in retreat. The pendulum is swinging away from recent extremes. Below are some examples.

Defund the police is out. 
Following the George Floyd murder and the subsequent BLM and Antifa riots that swept the county, "defund the police" became a rallying cry across the nation. Liberals wanted to eliminate or drastically reduce police departments and divert resources from police to social workers. This insanity has come to an end. No where did a city actually dissolve their police departments, but in some places, budgets were reduced and underfunded police departments did not get the funding they need to do their job. 

This effort to defund the police was primarily a utopian vision of White liberals. They saw the police as propping up a racist society. Disparity in who had unpleasant encounters with the police, to their minds, did not indicate a dysfunctional Black culture but indicated systemic racism.  As it turns out, most Black residents of crime infested communities wanted a greater police presence in the communities not a lesser police presence. 

Now, almost no one is calling for defunding the police and cities which cut police budgets have, for the most part, restored them. For a report on how the defund the police movement played out in Minneapolis, follow this link. Do a search engine search and the similar stories are common. It seems that now the only people wanting to "defund the police" are Republicans wanting to cut the FBI and Homeland Secuity. 

Colleges are dropping DEI. 
In recent years to promote "diversity, equity, and inclusion" universities compelled student applicants to include a statement on their applications as to what they would do to promote DEI. Compelled speech is contrary to living in a democratic society and is a hallmark of totalitarian and authoritarian societies. We long ago accepted that people cannot be forced to pledge allegiance to the flag, but somehow forcing students to pledge fidelity to DEI seemed acceptable. Not only did students have to say they supported and would promote DEI, but potential professors also had to do the same. This had the effect of eliminating conservative viewpoints from the university.

Quietly, colleges are dropping DEI. One example of where this requirement is being dropped is MIT which you can read about at this link. Some of this cutting of DEI programs and illuminating of DEI gatekeeper questions on applications is the result of red state legislation, but it is often also happening elsewhere. In many places it is the Board of Governors banning the practice. Many large ivy league private universities are dropping the policy. As an example, Harvard’s Largest Faculty Division Will No Longer Require Diversity Statements. 

In addition to requiring students and potential staff to say they support DEI and would promote it; many colleges had created DEI promotion positions on their campuses to monitor DEI efforts and hear complaints of inadequate vigor in carrying out DEI mandates. Quietly, colleges are ending these stand-alone offices. Whether it is bowing to political pressure or responding to donor pressure are simply recognizing that compelled speech is incompatible with the ideas of higher education, this is a welcome trend.

ESG is losing ground as investors push back.
A development of the last few years is the push to make Environmental, Social and Governance a factor for investment decisions. Some state and city pension plans required companies to have a good ESG score to be eligible for investment of public funds. The ESG metric scores a company on a variety of factors such as having policies to fight climate change, promoting sustainable policies, paying for abortions for their female employees and various other liberal objectives. Liberal investor activist have successfully exerted pressure on companies to make ESG a factor in their operations because often few investors take an interest in company's policies and few attend annual stockholders' meetings. This is changing. 

According to Forbes, interest in ESG peaked in 2023 and its sharp decline seemed to have begun. Firms have a fiduciary duty to maximize shareholders’ wealth and ESG makes other objectives a priority. Attorney Generals of several U.S. states have sued financial companies that employ ESG. Also, stockholders are pushing back. According to the Wall Street Journal, shareholders have voted on 70 measures opposing traditional ESG initiatives at S&P 500 companies through the end of May this year, up from 30 two years ago and seven in 2020.

Reclaiming the language.
For years now, liberals have perverted the language and instead of saying the word "mom," they say things like "child-bearing people." They come up with such silliness as using the plural pronoun "they" as a single pronoun for a person who does not think of himself or herself as a "he" or "she." The list goes on and on. It is most pronounced in promoting a trans agenda that denies there is such a thing as men and women, but it is also prevalent in other contexts. This is now waning, and it is being made the subject of ridicule. 

The Atlantic is one of the journals to which I subscribe. It is liberal but it is not Mother Jones or The New Republic. Much of the content is not political at all and contains some excellent writing but I think anyone would say the publication is liberal. In a recent issue it had an article The Moral Case Against Euphemism. The subtitle of the article is "Banning words won't make the world more just." 

In the article they report that Sierra Club’s Equity Language Guide discourages using the words stand, Americans, blind, and crazy. "The first two fail at inclusion, because not everyone can stand and not everyone living in this country is a citizen. The third and fourth, even as figures of speech (“Legislators are blind to climate change”), are insulting to the disabled. The guide also rejects the disabled in favor of people living with disabilities, for the same reason that enslaved person has generally replaced slave : to affirm, by the tenets of what’s called “people-first language,” that “everyone is first and foremost a person, not their disability or other identity.”"

The article goes on for multiple pages reporting on how the language police get sillier and sillier. As an example, one should not use "marginalized" as an adjective. It is acceptable to say, "historically marginalized" but not "marginalized people." That The Atlantic points out what has happened and disapproves is encouraging. 

I have also seen others quietly return to normal. I get the communications from the Tennessee Democratic Party and for a long time, the letter writer of a communication always ended their letter with the writers preferred pronoun following the writer's name. Suddenly, a few months ago, they just stopped the practice.  While most comics are liberals, I have recently seen some slip into their humor jabs at political correctness language and related silliness.

Given the discouraging trends we are seeing in politics and society, these trends may not amount to much, but they are something. I welcome steps in the right direction no matter how small. 

Update, 7/11/2024Brentwood's Tractor Supply ends DEI initiatives, pride funding

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