(Orlando) “Woke”: The word has cropped up in nearly every speech at America’s major annual conservative convention in Florida in recent days, including that of former President Donald Trump. Among Republicans, the term has become synonymous with all the evils caused by their Democratic opponents.
“Wokism is the new religion of the left,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis thundered at CPAC.
The word, which means “awakened” in English, originally emerged within the movement to denounce the racism suffered by African Americans in the United States. But it has gradually become a global phenomenon, denouncing all forms of injustice suffered by minorities, whatever they may be.
Today, its detractors associate it with a progressive ideology, which they believe is a source of abuse, such as the so-called “cancel culture”, aimed at holding celebrities, big brands , leaders or ordinary people for their words or actions, through campaigns on social networks. A practice deemed draconian by conservatives.
“There are kids in America whose college admissions were taken away because of something they said on social media when they were 14,” Republican Senator Marco Rubio said.
According to Democratic political analyst Ed Kilgore, Republicans see “Wokism” as “extreme, pro-minority and pro-women identity politics that oppresses traditional cultural views.”
Political analyst Richard Hanania, for his part, gives a closer definition of conservative sentiment: “The ‘woke’ culture is a tendency to attribute inequalities to discrimination,” he says. “According to this, if a social group earns more money than another, it is because of discrimination, it is because of society”.
The theme should in any case remain on the agenda of the conservatives in the coming months, at least until the mid-term elections which are to take place in November.
The war against “wokism” mobilizes the Republican base with a simple message, explains Ed Kilgore, which is important given the lower turnout usually recorded in these elections, compared to the presidential one.
“When it comes to national security and economic policy, American conservatives have been a bit in the dark, especially since Trump,” he said. “What they are united on are cultural issues. »
Especially since the party can take as an example a recent success in rallying around these issues.
In November, Glenn Youngkin defeated Democratic front-runner Terry McAuliffe in the gubernatorial election of Virginia.
During his campaign, the Republican candidate had tackled frontally the “critical theory of race”, which analyzes racism as a system, perpetuated by the white majority to preserve its privileges.
Other party members, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, have embraced the movement.
For Mr. DeSantis, the left promotes “critical race theory because it wants to divide the country”.
“Tax money” will not be spent on “hating our country or hating each other, which is why we banned critical race theory,” he said.
For Republican analyst Brett Foster, conservatives “are frustrated because the left seems to want to sow discord on racial lines, even as the United States seeks to leave that behind.”
Including on the left, some like political adviser James Carville have warned of the political risk the issue may pose for Democrats.