Opinion | Is Wokeness ‘Kryponite for Democrats’?


By Thomas B. Edsall

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.

As Republicans well know, Democrats are divided on a host of volatile racial, cultural and sexual issues.

Take a look at the polls.

In 2019, the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group commissioned a survey asking for agreement or disagreement with the statement: “There are only two genders, male and female.”

In the full sample, a decisive majority, 59 percent agreed, including 43 percent who “strongly agreed,” 32 percent disagreed and nine percent who said they weren’t sure. Among Republicans, it was no contest, 78 percent agreed and 16 percent disagreed. Independents mirrored the whole sample.

Democrats were split: a plurality, 48 percent, disagreed, and 44 percent agreed.

The survey itself arguably embodied what critics might call “transphobic framing” — transgender issues are among the most polarizing in contemporary politics and much contemporary cultural conflict in fact stems from framing disputes.

An August-September 2017 Pew Research survey asked respondents to choose between two statements: “whether a person is a man or a woman is determined at birth” and “whether a person is a man or a woman can be different from the sex at birth.”

A 54 percent majority of all those surveyed said sex “is determined at birth” and 44 percent said it “can be different from the sex at birth.” Republican voters and those who lean Republican chose “at birth” 80 to 19. Democratic voters and those who lean Democratic said sex can be different from the sex at birth 64 to 34.

Or take the public’s view of the “defund the police” movement that gained momentum after the murder of George Floyd a year ago.

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