Is Biden going woke?

November 19, 2020 • 1:45 pm

I’d worry less if this article came from, say, Breitbart, but it’s from Bloomberg News. The title tells the tale (I think); click on the screenshot:

There’s nothing wrong with having experts on racism, but this makes it seem like what we’re going to be faced with is Critical Race Theory, which  I don’t want permeating a Democratic administration. For one thing, I think it’s wrong (“systemic racism”, defined as racism formally embedded within institutions, isn’t immediately apparent in either universities or the American government), and for another, it’s going to cause more divisions in America and endanger the tenuous Democratic hold on government. (If you’re told you’re a racist, especially unconsciously, you’re going to push back.)

But maybe it won’t be as bad as I think. Here are the details from Bloomberg:

When it comes to economic policy, President-elect Joe Biden is putting racial disparities high on the agenda as he assembles his administration.

The incoming president tapped Mehrsa Baradaran, whose book “The Color of Money” is a key reference on the racial wealth gap, to prepare the Treasury Department for the transition. She’s joined by Lisa Cook, an economist at Michigan State University, on the “landing team” for the Federal Reserve and banking and securities regulators. They are among more than 500 experts who will focus on race as they shape Biden’s policies on issues like housing, health and small-business lending. Baradaran declined to comment, and Cook referred questions to the Biden team.

Observers say they’ve never seen expertise about race figure so prominently in economic roles.

But shouldn’t class also be figuring prominently in economic roles as well? The economic equities in the U.S. surely weigh heavily on blacks, but the entire country is becoming more unequal, and, with the pandemic, there will be a huge number of people in all groups who will be hurting badly. Not to mention all the small businesses that shut down.

Anyway, there’s more:

Disparities in economic opportunity and achievement have been a prominent topic in the U.S. this year, since the summer’s widespread demonstrations against racism and police brutality. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic, the first Black Fed president in the central bank’s 106-year history, has said systemic racism is both an economic and a moral issue.

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are emphasizing diversity as they prepare to assume power next year. Women comprise more than 50% of the new administration’s landing teams, according to the transition team, and more than 40% of advisers are from groups that are historically underrepresented in the federal government, like racial minorities, people with disabilities and those who identify as LGBTQ.

“Having these individuals who are representative of their community in the actual room where they can voice their perspective and have their perspective actually translate to policy — it matters more than you think,” Opoku-Agyeman said. Next, she said, she will watch to see whether progressive-leaning advisers can drive policy change.

I have no beef with diversity in the cabinet; in fact, vis-a-vis these interest groups, it’s necessary and useful to hear the voices of people who have experienced discrimination. The only danger is if the voice of a “minoritized” person is taken to stand for the view of all people in this group. But I am worried about “progressive-leaning advisers” driving policy change, for if the policies driven are not ones that Americans favor, like open borders, or haven’t yet come around to, like universal health care with the government as payer, then it could hurt the Democrats.

Here are a few more of Biden’s new appointees:

  • Don Graves, who leads the Treasury landing team. He’s a former Obama administration official and was head of corporate responsibility at KeyBank until he joined the campaign in September.
  • Bill Bynum, who will advise the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He’s chief executive of the Hope Credit Union.
  • Tene Dolphin, who will serve on the Commerce Department’s landing team. She’s the first executive director for the Greater Washington Black Chamber of Commerce.

I’m not shaking in my boots, worried about fulminating wokeness, but I didn’t expect a concentration on “systemic racism” as a key part of economic governance, either, as I didn’t peg Biden as a Wokester. What I expected what these views about comity and compromise, espoused by Biden’s former boss:

Am I wrong to be concerned?

40 thoughts on “Is Biden going woke?

  1. Not wrong to be concerned. If Biden is the next president he will certainly try and reinstate critical race theory where Trump banned it.

      1. “Therefore, it shall be the policy of the United States not to promote race or sex-stereotyping or scapegoating in the Federal workforce or in the Uniformed Services, and not to allow grant funds to be used for these purposes. In addition, Federal contractors will not be permitted to inculcate such views in their employees,” the order said.

        Doesn’t seem to be a First Ammendment issue. You can still espouse idiotic ideas; we’re just not going to fund racism or sexism with our tax dollars.

  2. I wouldn’t worry to much about it. Give it a chance. After all, if you want a definition of white privilege just tune in to Trump doing anything. I was thinking, the last several days, just playing golf and firing people. Kind of the same thing he has been doing for 50 years.

    1. The trouble is for the Woke, there’s no spectrum, if you are white, you’ve got as much white privilege as Trump (and if you are Asian or Cuban, too).

      1. If you are white you have as much privilege as Trump. That is too good to pass up. Should we ask Paul Manafort that question. How about Cohen. Maybe some of the civil servants who destified against him at impeachment. If I golfed and twitted for two weeks while the daily death toll climbed to 1869 per day what would you call that? I think maybe you have a different idea of privilege than I do.

  3. One of the members of Biden’s Transition Team has publicly criticized the 1st Amendment and wants Hate Speech laws in America. His “argument” was that his Arab diplomats friends didn’t like the idea of allowing “someone to burn a Koran” as the 1st Amendment does.

    I’m no Trump fan at all (I’m not even American) but you all got what you deserved with Biden and Harris. I’m only sorry that your choice was between a smug narcissist and an elderly “woke” censor (probably with dementia). Unfortunately, having practically a two-party system is shameful, from many points of view.

    1. I don’t mind Biden as president, but trusting him to keep the wokes at bay is quite a gamble.

      Not being American doesn’t mean I’m unconcerned. The toxic politics and culture of the US tend to be copied throughout the Western world. Wish there was a quarantine for it 😐

  4. I don’t see anything here that worries me. I expect that the ideal of people being appointed based on their competency for the appointed position regardless of race, gender or any other consideration, will never happen. I’m sure many of Biden’s appointees will be chosen more because of their race or gender than their competence.

    But I’m also quite confident that Biden’s appointees will on average be more competent, less destructive, less unethical and less criminal than those of the current administration.

    I’m very confident of that because it is an extremely low bar to clear. But that’s where we are right now. The first step is to clear that very low bar. At the moment, and for the next little while, I’ll be giving the Biden administration my support, the benefit of the doubt, and I’ll be carefully watching and noting what they are doing.

  5. Cultural/Race isssues are being used as a beard for class issues.

    Corporate America has taken BLM into its bosom and contributed several billions dollars. Compare that to the fate of Occupy Wall Street, which went nowhere. (And why Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren faded)

    The main issue is that whereas Occupy Wall Street’s target was business model, including executive compensation, BLM in no way threatens the corporate status quo. If you work for a large corporation, you know how easily Diversity and Inclusion has been folded in. (I work for a huge one and see this very clearly every day.)

    In essence, corporate America is fine with activism that is cultural (BLM), but not economic (Occupy Wall Street.

    The calculus being made is that conspicuous advocacy for race issues will create a distraction from the wealth disparity driven in huge part by tax policy, fiscal policy, and compensation policies.

    1. While racism and wealth disparity are issues that compete for attention, and are not unrelated, the idea that corporate America is in some conspiracy to pit one against the other is ludicrous. It’s exactly the kind of thinking that caused Occupy Wall Street to go nowhere. Lack of understanding of how the system worked coupled with “they’re all against us” does not lead to any real legislation. Corporate America plays an economic game whose rules are set mostly by government. They are going to try to maximize profits because that’s really what we designed the system to do and what we actually want them to do. If you want to fix wealth disparity, government needs to change the rules.

      So far, I haven’t heard many proposals for changing the rules and the ones I have heard aren’t going to do it. Raising the minimum wage is a good thing but that alone isn’t going to fix much. A Minimum Basic Income, or whatever Yang calls it, really only deals with the very bottom rungs of the ladder. Raising taxes on the rich might work but Dems need to find something useful and visible to do with the extra revenue or people will only see it as hurting them.

      1. Right on target, PT, as always.

        My sense has always been that the bottom line is the *only* thing that corporate America (or maybe corporate World) really worries about; issues of race, ethnicity and religion are completely orthogonal to that concern—they don’t interfere with generating profits, so Wall Street has, literally, no compelling interest in how diverse its workforce is, one way or the other. BLM or David Duke, as long as profitability isn’t compromised, who cares?

        1. I get the feeling that the two of you are as familiar with how corporations have taken up the religion of diversity as I am with hockey.

          I am not going to prolong this, but, guys, you are really clueless how corporations are using social issues as a cover to score suck points with the left in the hopes that it deflects attention from business model.

          BTW, those government rules are written by corporations.

        2. Question: Do either of you work or have worked for a large for profit company? By large I mean number of employees over 25,000…..

      2. Corporations must manage their public relations. What a great relief that one of the world’s largest manufacturers cares about diversity. Another great success for the American Left, and on-brand for the Democrats, “women took over the military-industrial complex. For the first time, the nation’s defense hierarchy is no longer dominated by men” as reported by Politico.

      3. But wokeism doesn’t make corporations more profitable. Indeed, ideas like killing meritocracy or advertising that most Americans find unrelatable or insulting are corrosive to success.

        So the cultural explanation that it’s class signalling by high status people seems more convincing to me.

    2. Ah yes, the corporate hellscape of Business Resource Groups advocating for every group under the sun. It is intersectionality on steroids.

      My company recently had a very eloquent speaker for a Women’s BRG event, which I happened to watch because I caught wind of it. I only wish they’d have such speakers talk to the company at large rather than to segregated groups.

      I don’t for a minute buy the “+ allies” trope either. Every group adds this because corporate lawyers know damn well that excluding other protected groups from a work sponsored activity would get them sued into oblivion. Thus, you don’t need to be gay to be in the pride group, black to be in the black group, a woman to join the women’s group, etc.

      I’ve yet to see a good explanation as to how this focus on group characteristics is supposed to reduce bigotry based on focusing on group characteristics. I manage a fairly large team and stay out of all this stuff for many reasons, not least of which is the possibility of being seen as favoring one group over another. What if I join the Black BRG but not the Asian one or the Pride one?

      What’s more, this corporate phenomenon amounts to nothing more than virtue signaling amongst mostly likeminded people. Who exactly is the audience of these charades? I guarantee the people they want to reach aren’t being reached.

  6. I’m sure Biden will have Obama on speed dial, so in that sense I think it will work out OK. There certainly is some danger of appearing too woke to be reelected, but not much risk.

  7. I am on the northern side of the US border and I expected that from Biden, Kamala and their team. This does not bode well. Canada got to be governed by Critical Theory with the election of Justin Trudeau and it has been a disaster. The best people are not getting important jobs and instead they are selected based on to which groups they belong, so what did we get?: Trudeau accepted as fact that Canada is a genocidal country with systemic racism at every institution and at every governmental level and that includes the RCMP and policy forces. Government positions are to be filled based on Critical Theory also, so public servants have to self-censor themselves. The government sees systemic racism everywhere, and it even reminds me of the McCarthy era in the United States when there was a communist under every bed. Divisions among groups have increased or created where there was none before, and so have demonstrations and protests.
    Before Critical Theory spread out of the academic circles into society and government in general, Canada was a great country with all kinds of different peoples getting along and working together. The mass immigration also changed the society and the country to which I immigrated many years ago has become almost foreign to me. Of course, looking around me, I can say that Canada is still a better place to live than many other places, but the future looks gloom.

    1. I’m guessing it is much better than under the government we have here today. We kind of have our own critical race theory bouncing off the walls most days. The important word today is sabotage, what our current president is doing when not golfing.

    2. “The mass immigration also changed the society and the country to which I immigrated many years ago has become almost foreign to me.”

      Said every immigrant demographic group ever. Talk about closing the door behind yourself. Canada admits mostly skilled or wealthy immigrants, plus their families. This is a net benefit, I’m sure you would agree (having immigrated yourself). Canada’s total fertility rate of about 1.5 is far below the replacement rate (2.1), so if one plans to retire and live on investment income or government pension income then one should hope that young immigrants come to Canada and pay into the investment and pension systems to keep them afloat.

      Have you ever met an RCMP officer? They are not woke. I know the current RCMP commissioner, Brenda Lucki. She was not appointed “based on Critical Theory.”

      And I don’t know where you live (I’ll take a wild guess and say Calgary), but in my Canadian city there are no “Divisions among groups…where there was none before” and there are no demonstrations or protests in the streets. This is just fear-mongering.

    3. You appear to live in a different Canada than I do.

      I will say, though, that Trudeau’s reluctance to stand with our French allies after that teacher’s beheading was wrong.

  8. This is a general police/citizenry question – but I still don’t see a subscribe button… oh, is it below?… no not that one..

    But the question is about descriptions. Police use descriptions all the time, as I learned from TV shows. Is the facility with which identification of very dark skin is made a factor explaining how black skinned individuals experience higher than average (I assume) police questioning? Such that lighter shades of skin are not as clearly defined, so some suspects might be missed, or mistaken? “White” after all is only true for albinos.

    I’ll try to check back…

  9. While we have to give him a chance, as many here are saying, I think it is our interest to warn him away from CRT. Here’s why. My guess is Biden wants to deal with racism, or at least be seen as dealing with it, but is trying to pass it off to others in his administration to deal with the details. “Just tell me when you need me to sign something or make a pretty speech.” Unfortunately, too many of these so-called experts are going to say we need more CRT.

  10. “I have no beef with diversity in the cabinet; in fact, vis-a-vis these interest groups, it’s necessary and useful to hear the voices of people who have experienced discrimination. The only danger is if the voice of a “minoritized” person is taken to stand for the view of all people in this group.”

    This would only be possible in a tokenistic environment, where there’s only one person, like Ben Carson, having to “represent.” (Why was a brain surgeon put in charge of housing? Why not HHS?)

    I think having 50% non-majoritized people would mean many, many people who would be able to look at a problem from different viewpoints. Atheists represent a tiny minority yet we disagree on many things.

    so…. wrong to be very concerned, but there will doubtless be things happening that you disagree with.

    re: class discrimination. White people of lower classes were never redlined, which is one of those systemic issues that has persisted, albeit unevenly. To the extent that there may be other systemic issues that we privileged white people aren’t aware of, I’m all for addressing them.

    I think one thing that never gets mentioned is dental care for the poor — missing, cracked, or crooked teeth signal poverty and class or lower intelligence. I hope the next iteration of health care reform finds a way to fix teeth.

  11. Agreed. Even if Biden wins, that leaves nearly 50% of the electorate which definitely does *not* agree with the “progressive” agenda, and some of the surviving Repubs in Congress have already vowed to treat Biden & Co. the way the Dems treated Trump. The “divisiveness” which the Dems so carefully cultivated has grown beyond their control, and will readily turn around and bite them.

    1. … some of the surviving Repubs in Congress have already vowed to treat Biden & Co. the way the Dems treated Trump.

      You mean as opposed to the warm embrace with which the Republicans welcomed Barack Obama?

      Mitch McConnell and his band of right-wing refuseniks met in the Capitol in advance of Obama’s inauguration, taking a solemn pledge to block anything Obama proposed, since their only goal was to make him a one-term president.

      Meanwhile, their Dear Leader-in-waiting was off banging the Birtherism drum, contending that Obama wasn’t even a US citizen, but a secret Kenyan Muslim.

    2. I don’t see how you can blame Democrats for divisiveness in Congress. It was Mitch McConnell who was determined to block initiatives of Obama’s and who blocked federal appointments to the judiciary.

      The Senate has more power than the House, and it has been controlled by McConnell for 10 years.

  12. But I am worried about “progressive-leaning advisers” driving policy change, for if the policies driven are not ones that Americans favor, […], or haven’t yet come around to, like universal health care with the government as payer, then it could hurt the Democrats.

    In 2018, according to Pew, “Six-in-ten Americans say it is the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage, including 31% who support a “single payer” approach to health insurance, according to a new national survey by Pew Research Center.” (source)

  13. Biden doesn’t need to promote woke-ism (which arguably hurt him as much as it helped); he needs be seen as standing up to the never concede, never surrender current president.

    What are we all going to do when President Sulk commands his supporters (KKK, Proud Boys, Nazis) to protest/stop Biden’s inauguration?

  14. Couldn’t agree with you more. I’m a libertarian who favors decriminalization of all drugs (legalization of marijuana), decriminalization of sex work, and pro GLBT rights. An outside observer would imagine immediately that I must be a Democrat. However the Dem party is not what it was. It is no longer a party of independent thinking “classical liberals” who support civil rights for everyone (even people they disagree wtih.) It is a heavily partisan party which has abandoned reason and is reliant on activating the raw emotions of people with “bones to pick” so to speak. They have alienated people like myself, with rhetoric that implies “inherent (inborn) racism.” These types of ideas are fundamentally divisive in nature and they only serve to pit people against each other. It’s known that 25% of Trump voters in 2016 were centrist Democrats who no longer felt that the part represented them. The leftist media’s allegations that Trump voters are “racist” ignores the many hispanics, blacks, and GLBT groups which voted for and supported him. Instead of curiosity about what might be the motivations of these groups, they spew hate and disbelief. It’s no wonder that the party is struggling to gain enthusiasm from their own base.

Leave a Reply