Many of us Libertarians see the country shifting in the wrong direction when it comes to abortion, racism, and homophobia. Donald Trump’s campaign to “Make America Great Again” may have been the catalyst for this. If you ask anyone on the right about this, they will say they are trying to counter the progressive extremists pushing the country too far to the left. They are trying to take our country back. However, those of us watching the culture war from the outside see things differently.
I have always been proud to be a Libertarian. Libertarians were historically socially liberal and fiscally conservative, focused on smaller government and more freedom. That meant freedom for people to do things you don’t like or agree with, including being gay, lesbian, or transgender. But, now the definition of freedom within the Libertarian Party has morphed into something I am not proud to be associated with — freedom to be a racist and a homophobe.
There is a battle in the Libertarian Party and in the country over culture and morality. While some see it as a war, I see it as a marketing spin and a distraction that started with Donald Trump and has been pushed forward by Republicans like Ron Desantis. This fight probably won’t end until the culture warriors realize they are losing the battle and most Americans just want everyone to settle down.
The “anti-woke” or the “war on woke” is a backlash to the “woke” movement. While this culture war is getting a lot of media attention, most Americans aren’t culture warriors. They are worried about more important issues, like the economy, and aren’t interested in turning back time.
Over the last year, many states have introduced new laws on abortion access or pushed for other conservative agendas. There have been hundreds of anti-transgender bills introduced in Congress, which would lead you to believe that everyone is worried about the “woke” progressives.
However, I don’t believe that American voters are as worried about the culture war as the news and social media would lead you to believe. In fact, I believe most of America is fed up with the culture war. And, some of us are calling it as we see it — pressure to make racism and homophobia socially acceptable again.
The Culture war between the woke and the anti-woke
If you’ve been reading about the culture wars, you probably know that it’s a battle going on between the woke and the anti-woke. I must confess, and I don’t think I’m alone in this, I had never heard the term “woke” until about a year ago. The first time I heard it, I didn’t really know what it meant, and I didn’t really care. But, now this seems to be all that people in political circles are talking about.
What exactly does “woke” mean and where did the term come from? A lot of people assume it means being awake to what’s really going on in the world, or even a reference from the Matrix movie. But, the term “woke” has been around for much longer than the Matrix series and is rooted in black culture.
The first person to use the term woke was African American author, William Melvin Kelley in 1962. He used it in his essay titled “If You’re Woke You Dig It: No mickey mouse can be expected to follow today’s Negro idiom without a hip assist” published in the New York Times.
It meant being aware of the injustices and social oppression that black people faced. It became more widely known after being co-opted by the Black Lives Matter movement, which used the hashtag #staywoke to raise awareness of the brutality and killing of African Americans by law enforcement.
The term woke has since been hijacked by conservatives to mean progressives who think that anyone who disagrees with them is racist, homophobic, or transphobic. This manipulation of the original term is why so many people are outraged by “woke” ideology.
Social Conservatives brought the war on woke to the Libertarian Party
The Libertarian Party has always been more closely aligned with the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Even though we have historically been socially liberal, our economic and free-market views generally attracted more Republicans than Democrats. With the takeover of the party by the Mises Caucus though, the contrast between Republicans and Libertarians is much harder to define.
This is my biggest frustration with the Mises. I believe Covid was the catalyst that allowed the Mises Caucus to take over. I also believe people’s views on how the government handled Covid have merged with the same community that is preoccupied with the war on woke culture.
People are being fueled by dangerous misinformation suggesting that our school children are being groomed by the LGBT community through our public school system. Parents are concerned about the “woke” left brainwashing their children. They believe that their kids are being taught to believe that they are gay or transgender when they are not.
It is true that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of young people who identify as transgender, but there is no evidence that this is actually the result of the public schools. Naturally, the mass grouping of children could lead to mass changes in culture, but this does not mean that the change in culture is the result of the schools themselves. I wonder how many of these parents have had conversations with teenagers lately? This change in culture is coming from our youth and not some great conspiracy from the public school system.
I also think the more conservative extremists push the culture war, the more they are going to lose. Let me ask you something. Since when has the public school system’s war on anything ever been effective? If anything, the culture warriors may be causing a backlash to their backlash. As much as the extreme right thinks they are winning, I think that younger Americans are much more open-minded than Gen X and Boomer adults.
A few years ago, the culture war was about immigration. But, now we have gone from blaming immigrants for all of our country’s problems, to blaming drag queens for ruining the country. Every day I hear conservatives carrying on about how bad the “left” is, but quite frankly they are the only people I am hearing this from. If it weren’t for the crazy “right” I would have never heard the word woke or known what it was.
While they think they are fighting the “culture war” they are just drawing attention to their own insanity. And the polls and the falling apart of both the Republican and Libertarian parties because of this insane extremism are reflective of the fact that they are losing the culture war. Their insanity is helping the Democratic Party to grow stronger.
Democrats aren’t losing their minds over people choosing to call themselves “he”, or “she”, or “they”. Nor do they care if you want to identify as a unicorn or a potted plant — which really, how many people are actually doing this? According to the “anti-woke” right, this is a widespread problem that we need to do something about.
Social norms are always changing. I remember when I was growing up and witnessed a lesbian couple showing public displays of affection, I thought this was gross and morally wrong. I felt they should not be doing this in public, and definitely not in front of children. As I have gotten older, I have realized that these acts of defiance of social norms were necessary to change our culture and how society treated gay and lesbian couples.
People act as if living their life and being happy is shoving their beliefs on others. The LGBTQ community just wants to live their lives and be happy just like everyone else.
Grooming vs Normalizing
The narrative from the right is that the LGBTQ community is trying to recruit kids into the LGBTQ community. They say our school system is sexualizing and grooming our children. The use of the word grooming is intentional. Normalizing is the more appropriate word to use. It means making something more normal, whereas grooming is a term that means a pedophile that is preparing a child to be molested.
They imply that drag queens and others in the LGBTQ community are prepping children for sexual abuse, when in fact, they are just trying to make LGBTQ children feel safe in their schools and in their communities.
The fact is more and more children are coming out as gay and transgender. But nobody really knows whether or not this is because it is now more acceptable to be LGTQ, or if this is due to societal pressures. We may have the same number of gay and transgender children as we have always had, they just might feel more comfortable being open about it. Controlling freedom of thought and our children’s ability to critically think for themselves is not the solution.
One-Size-Fits All Public Education is Part of the Problem
I remember being a homeschool parent when homeschooling wasn’t socially acceptable In fact, I still hear people say that kids shouldn’t be homeschooled because they won’t learn how to socialize. These same people want to tell you what should and shouldn’t be taught in public schools. If you want to be in complete control of your children’s education, the only option for doing this is homeschooling.
If you support parent’s right to educate their children how they see fit and you start working on shifting our education system away from a one-size fits all public education system because this is the only way you are going to have a school system that teaches your children exactly the way YOU want them to be taught.
The Libertarian Party Needs to Step out of the Culture War and Get Back to the Business of Shrinking the Government
I don’t think Americans are really that focused on a culture war. There are conservatives trying to turn back the clock on social changes they don’t want to see They want to bring America back to its God-fearing roots. As a Christian and a Libertarian, I believe that if we want America to be great, we can’t restrict freedom to control the direction culture moves.
I would like to see the Libertarian Party stop inserting itself into the culture war. I understand why some people feel the Libertarian Party was getting too involved in identity politics. But, we don’t need to reverse course and make our party the “anti-woke” party. This is not at all what the Libertarian Party is about.
We aren’t and never were against the LGBTQ community. We don’t have to be anti-racist to agree that “racism is irrational and repugnant.” What we need to get back to is our actual roots of getting the government out of damn near everything, including the culture war!
The cultural war is a tool that the two-party system created to distract and divide us so that we are not paying to the things that are much more important to voters – like reducing the government’s size, power, and spending.