One of the biggest delusions conservatives suffer from is the idea that what they want mirrors what America wants. They virtually always think they’re on the side of popular opinion and that a fringe “vocal minority” is trying to control the culture through a “woke” anti-American agenda.
For example, pro-life conservatives would have you believe that the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was a win for America. It wasn’t though. It was a win for right-wingers and their right-wing agenda. Most polls show that more than 60% of American adults support abortion rights and that support for abortion rights only grows from year to year.
Now let’s talk about the white, fragile and bigoted idea that discussions on racial equality and LGBTQ issues have no place in the classroom.
Recently, pollsters and political researchers talked to Politico about how Republican ads promising to ban or restrict what they (usually wrongly) believe is critical race theory from the classroom—as well as gender studies and LGBTQ rights—only really resonate with Republican voters. But these campaigns do nothing to attract swing voters because, when it comes down to it, only MAGA-fied conservatives buy into the GOPropaganda that says sex education is strictly for the straights, that only two genders should be recognized in the classroom (or anywhere for that matter) and that truthful Black history is part of a “woke” agenda to make white kids feel bad.
“Their hypothesis was that it would be a swing issue, particularly for suburban voters and parents, and not just a base issue,” Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster, told Politico. “The way they’ve overplayed their hand is that it’s just a base issue, and in fact alienates some of the suburban voters—particularly suburban parents.”
“The far-right MAGA strategy of using kids and schools as culture war pawns has failed and continues to fail to win converts,” pollsters at GBAO, a prominent Democratic polling firm, concluded in a memo last month after surveying 1,000 likely November 2022 voters on behalf of the National Education Association.
Instead, those surveyed ranked mental health support, a lack of technical training, pandemic learning losses, school funding and educator shortages as the most serious problems facing K-12 public education, according to research the union shared first with POLITICO.
Voters also signaled they were more concerned about book bans and incomplete history lessons instead of negative lessons about American history, or the presence of critical race theory in classrooms. Instead, GBAO concluded “proactive messaging on curriculum persuades voters” — a pattern that held with independents, suburban voters and parents.
“What we’ve seen in all these states is what we’ve known all along: while education may not be the premier issue, it’s a big issue to parents and voters,” said Katrina Mendiola, the NEA’s political director. “What they care about are the same things that educators care about. They want fully funded schools, they want educators to have livable and competitive pay, and they want mental health support for their kids.”
Whaaaah? Nah, that can’t be right. To let Republicans tell it, the most common educational concerns for parents across the nation is that their children will be taught that the Founding Fathers were racist slave owners, that slavery was America’s choice, that white supremacy is America’s default or that classroom lessons might legitimize the humanity of the LGBTQ community.
Now, y’all are telling us that teaching truth to the youth is the more popular concept? Mind blown.
And in case you’re thinking only Democratic pollsters think Republicans represent the shallow end of every cultural issue, Arizona-based Republican pollster Paul Bentz shared the same sentiments as his democratic counterparts.
“We see more and more Republicans continuing to play to their base instead of trying to expand their audience,” Bentz told Politico. “What we really find is the voters really are more in the middle.”
There’s also a recent report published by researchers at the University of Southern California that shows most Americans oppose the restrictions on racial equality and LGBTQ studies in the classroom.
“Americans overwhelmingly want high school to be a place where students learn about multiple sides of controversial topics, and they are free to access books touching on a variety of controversial content,” the study found.
The poll found that 59% of Adults were in favor of lesson plans about transgender rights and gender identity. Sixty-three percent said they support teaching about sexual orientation. Sixty-five percent said they were in favor of teaching about gay rights. And a whopping 86% said they believe that racial inequality should be discussed in the classroom.
Look, we all know conservatism represents traditional America and all the white supremacy, patriarchy and heteronormativity that comes with it. But maybe the truth is that traditional America is what more and more Americans are looking to move away from. Maybe what we’re seeing isn’t so much a “culture war” as much as it is the result of progressivism slowly but surely growing from generation to generation.
And maybe conservative America is trying to convince the rest of us that the opposite is true in order to preserve the version of America only straight white people ever felt comfortable in.
I mean, if that’s not the case, then what exactly does “make America great again” mean to the conservative?