The Rise of the Alt-Woke
Dems Think the Blue Wave is Coming, But More Folks Hopped Aboard The Trump Train
As we are from hours from polls opening, liberals are trying to bask in the hope of the #BlueWave. I heard on the subway, “Did you see those MSNBC early voting numbers!?” “Look at all these volunteers!” “I feel so much energy.” Yet if SNL has an accurate cultural barometer, everyone on the Left who also learned something in 2016 has a healthy degree of “scared shitless” underneath the optimism. The newly “woke” are fired up and ready to go because otherwise the believe it to be end of days.
ALAS! Republicans rejoice and Dems, well keep the fear, ’cause Republicans love Trump as much as they did when he was sworn in and he enjoys a 40% approval rating though some polls show he has a higher midterm approval rating than Obama did. You may say “polls, schmolls” but Dems still trust ’em more than Republicans. If you don’t trust them, well anecdotally, it appears even the initially skeptical Republicans have come round and some even love him more than day one.
But WHY? What is this mentality? To those 24-month woke liberals pondering a reason why support for Trump would go up….
I offer a concept: the rise of the Alt-Woke.
Alt-woke is a phenomenon where Trump voters and Republicans, many formerly Trump-skeptic, react with ever more favor and enthusiasm towards Trump as a result of 1) the perceived “mob-like” behavior of crying woke-tivists 2) the increasing desire to upend the P.C. cultural and governmental elites they perceive to be ruling from the top down, by seeing Trump dismantle the administrative state 3) genuinely getting things they wanted from the president 4)a small desire to own the libs. Alt-woke is a cautionary tale: if Dems don’t vote, lack of enthusiasm on the Right won’t save them.
To my knowledge, there is not a self-named “alt-woke” movement out there. The analytic concept was introduced to me over a Beltway breakfast with an old Republican friend (and one-time Obama voter). I had known my friend to be a Tea Party conservative and Trump skeptic, more into nixing the deficit than waging a war against identity politics or crusading to build a wall. This friend chose not to work for the administration and I hadn’t seen him until we discussed that choice. Over eggs, I asked him, “So what do you think?”
Slowly and dramatically, he pulled out a MAGA plastic LIVESTRONG style wristband and said, “I didn’t want to shock you by wearing this into breakfast, but I love him.” A little flabbergasted, I immediately asked why. “To sum it up, I would describe my love of Trump as me being ‘alt-woke.’” I probed deeper not just with him, but with others.
1. Awakened by the “Woke”
First of all, many in the Alt-Woke are not necessarily the sort who dawned MAGA hats at first. They weren’t the billionaires looking for a tax cut. They were probably folks like low-key (white) Republican Uncle Joe back in Cleveland who didn’t take to Trump adoration until he saw the “Woke” masses sporting their own team’s colors… ‘cause then he had to put on his own. The annoyance started with the pussy hats — masses who marked themselves as #Resistance folks. It then got bad when the Antifa black masks took off (even if we all know that problem might not be as bad as Fox News makes it out to be). Many Alt-Woke understand that Antifa and Pussy Hatters are not equivalent, but the “catastrophizing” nature of the Resistance put many of the Alt-Woke over the edge. “If you’re into self-dramatization, Donald Trump’s presidency is perfect for you,” so says Ann Coulter in her book Resistance is Futile! How the Trump-Hating Left Lost Its Collective Mind. She pokes fun at Libs for calling Trump “Hitler times infinity.” Whether you believe Trump is genuinely a white nationalist or not, the speech around convincing others of this belief is something the Alt-Woke love to dwell on.
The Alt-Woke are also reacting to what they perceive as a denial of American “truths” by the Left. To the Alt-Woke, the newly “Woke” in America were folks who were made to believe that the ills of American culture and the election of Donald Trump were fundamentally rooted in the rottenness of America’s very social, political, and culture structure. That America was and is and will be a nation with slavery forever unless overturned. That it was and is still fundamentally sexist and patriarchal, unless revolutionarily overthrown. That the ideas of “freedom” and “equality” themselves were and are lies. To truly change America for the Woke (at least, according to the Alt-Woke) would mean totally changing the structure, mores, and definition of “America.” That is something the Alt-Woke won’t abide by, because it would mean the complete demonization of not just the flag libtards kneel to, but the entire country, full stop.
The “Woke” masses who, in trying to challenge patriarchy in the wake of #metoo, slowed Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation process, thus accelerating the Alt-Woke’s increasing membership numbers. I don’t have to rehash the umbrage felt by the Alt-Woke that an “innocent” man was on a not-trial trial or that folks who didn’t protest Clinton for far worse were causing a ruckus in the halls of government. But it stands to show that Trump and Republicans got a midterm boost (as well as the Democrats, so who knows how it will go).
2. P.C. Deep State Dismantled
By Trump keeping promises, the Alt-Woke have also set their eyes on a long held dream: dismantling the P.C. administrative state that oppresses the little guy. There is a perception among many on the Right that the state is too entrenched by special interests and too bureaucratic to actually create laws by and for the people. Just dismantling would be better than reforming — which usually breeds more rules on old rules. To the Right, every-time the Left wants to do something, like lessen hate crimes or save the planet, they do it from the top down, instead of creating bottom up solutions.
My friend, who once voted for Barack, explained that when Obama got elected, he rightfully tried to weed out inequality, racism, sexism, and other social ailments. The friend didn’t disagree that this needed to be done. From my friend’s perspective, the problem was Obama did it from the top down, with little recourse for the little man to really keep up with the new hegemony, unless they were monied or cultural elites themselves. EPA regulations on how to deal with lead-paint during remodeling killed small town contractors. “Dear Colleague” letters from the Obama Department of Education would tie federal funding to new rules requiring access to transgender bathrooms in high schools, most likely ill-equipped to educate their students on the concept of transgenderism itself. Trying to impose values from the top down just doesn’t work for the potentially Alt-Woke. When Trump indeed started reversing EPA protections or Department of Education dictums, the Alt-Woke roared in favor that finally, Big Brother was backing off.
This attitude extends beyond the government and into culture. There is a perception that the whole world has gone “P.C.” to a point of damaging your business, your livelihood, and your life. However right or wrong this may seem to you dear reader, try to explain to a Trumpster why accidentally using the N-word as a white man means losing your entire pizza company like Papa John, when making sweeping statements about white people as an Asian person means you get to keep your job at the New York Times like Sarah Jeong. For those of us who see the eradication of racism as necessary and view our own systemic privileges in relation to others, this framework is obvious to us and not unjust. For the Alt-Woke, in America everyone is equal under the law so offering “special” exemptions based on race is blasphemy and indeed antithetical to democracy. Now I could go into how the Alt-Woke tend to be privileged classes (read overwhelmingly white) and how the denial of their own privilege is reinforcing structural racism — but there are better folks than I to go into that (may I suggest VSB). The Alt-Woke looks to Trump as someone who can blow up the politically correct, social justice warrior cultural hegemony they see, and “Make America Great Again.” So far, the Alt-Woke intuits some progress in this area.
3. Promises Kept
Trump said he would confirm conservative justices, and he has. Two of them. This is one of several things Republicans desired and have received from Trump, offering another incentive to join the ranks of “Alt-Woke.” Say what you will, but Trump has delivered on a key promise: lowering taxes. Yes, it is not proportionately as much for the middle-class or poor as it is for the rich, but lowering taxes is what Republicans DO so no surprise there. That said, Trump hasn’t built a wall or appealed the ACA, nor did he avoid bombing Syria — three things many Trumpsters still grumble about, then blame Congress. Many have been pleasantly surprised that the markets keep moving up (even if most gains earlier this year have been already lost).
4. OWN THE LIBS
As much as everyone likes to deny it, tongue-in-cheek, the Alt-Woke want to own the libs — perhaps as much as the #Resistance wants to oust Trump. The Alt-Woke want to feel like winners after a 20th century run by Democrats. They are here to bask in the victory, in higher tax returns, in Melania’s fashion, in Pledge of Allegiances where no one kneels. Some Alt-Woke are bringing on more folks, particularly minorities, who’ve been peeved by Democrats just taking their support for granted — think Candace Owens and her African American #BLEXIT from the Left (and the disruption of “the simulation of fear.” Yes. I can hear you cry-laughing, Pink Hat). A more pseudo-scientific analysis for another article is required to go into this broader point but it remains an important point nonetheless.
All in all, the Alt-Woke are here. They are stoked. They are older, so they vote. Lest you rest on the laurels of the Blue Wave, the Alt-Woke will be sure to turn up for more winning. Trump will only be beat if he is shown to be a losing sham and right now, many find him a favorable winner. Regardless. If you are Alt-Woke or Woke, you’ll need to vote to win.