Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ culture warrior credentials were put to the test Saturday when he was challenged on the word “woke” just days after former President Donald Trump claimed “half the people can’t define it.”
“Look, we know what woke is…”
In drawing distinctions between one another, the frontrunners for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination appeared to be working to control the argument as campaigns got underway in earnest in the Hawkeye State. Earlier in the week, the president had pivoted away from the term “woke,” but when confronted over it, the governor came at it head on.
“[Trump] said he doesn’t like to use the word ‘woke’ because people don’t know what it means,” NBC reporter Dasha Burns had said, “That’s obviously a big part of your messaging. What do you say to that?”
Unflinchingly, DeSantis responded, “Look, we know what woke is, it’s a form of cultural Marxism.”
“It’s about putting merit and achievement behind identity politics, and it’s basically a war on the truth. And as that has infected institutions, and it’s corrupted a lot of institutions. So, you’ve got to be willing to fight the woke, we’ve done it in Florida, and we proudly consider ourselves the state where woke goes to die,” he went on.
Two days earlier, ahead of his town hall with Fox News, Trump had been fielding questions from voters when he was asked to weigh in on education, namely parental control and school choice, when he said, “Can you imagine we even have to talk about parental control and having parents, basically having parents get involved?”
(Video: Fox News)
“We have school systems that don’t even want to talk to the parents about their children. And you talk about changing gender and things where the child can make a choice and the child can be unbelievably young,” the president continued. “The country has gone sick.”
“It’s gone sick, and I don’t like the term ‘woke,’ because I hear, “woke, woke, woke.” You know, it’s just a term they use,” he asserted, “half the people can’t define it, they don’t know what it is.”
However, when confronted on it again Saturday, DeSantis not only provided an answer much like he had to Burns, he also took aim at the suggestion that anyone might downplay the “existential threat” that “woke” represents.
“Well, woke is an existential threat on our society. I mean, it’s an attack on truth, it’s a form of cultural Marxism and it really subordinates merit and achievement to things like identity politics,” he said answering a question from reporter Philip Wegmann. “You can’t have a vibrant free society if every institution is dominated by woke ideology. And to say it’s not a big deal, that just shows, you know, you don’t understand what a lot of these issues are right now.”
DeSantis on Trump’s recent comment that he doesn’t like the term “woke” —
“Woke is an existential threat to our society … To say it’s not a big deal, that just shows you don’t understand what a lot of these issues are right now.” (Answering a @PhilipWegmann question) pic.twitter.com/kr1Jj8rgqj
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) June 3, 2023
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