SADOW: Have We Seen A Cresting Of The Woke Tide In New Orleans?

Woke may have crested among the electorate in Louisiana’s woke capital, if a couple of recent election results serve as indicators.

Earlier this year, Democrat state Rep. Royce Duplessis won a transfer to the state Senate in a battle with a colleague, Democrat state Rep. Mandie Landry. They vied to take the seat resigned last year by Democrat former state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson after graft landed her in the big house. That New Orleans district by population had a slight black plurality but by voter registration a slight white plurality. Duplessis is black and Landry is white.

Both are considered “progressive” Democrats; i.e., largely rejecting the role of government as a corrective agent of alleged imperfections in a society and economy with policy designed to promote equality of opportunity by instead embracing wholesale systemic change by use of government power to promote equality of outcome.

“Woke” is a further extension, a condition that places individuals into silos depending upon their characteristics. The woke further believe those in the silo of whiteness, and white-maleness in particular, are a suspect class. And should one express his white-maleness or other similarly suspect retrograde identity express such views as that biology determines sex, or that one might live an act in a heterosexual manner, and particularly if one is a practitioner of traditional Christianity, then these are unacceptable traits. The woke believe that the non-woke act in accordance with an irredeemably noxious set of cultural values that oppress all others, using disproportionate and illegitimately gained power. This requires that expression of such antiquated and obsolete values must be censored and those adherents to these identities must defer to the wishes and values of all others identifying differently who are thus higher on the intersectional totem pole.

For example, on criminal justice issues traditional liberal Democrats would focus on procedural matters to ensure fairness for the accused and convicted. Progressive Democrats would go further in imposing their policy preferences on the system, such as great reluctance to pursue capital punishment and charging suspects in a way that avoids alleged sentencing disparities for reasons other than facts of the crime. But woke Democrats would act to eviscerate the system itself because of its presumed built-in inequities, subverting it by means such as no/cashless bail, decisions to downgrade or not prosecute, and whether to accept or release prisoners according to various criteria unrelated to the facts of the alleged crime.

Certainly “progressive” and “woke” are highly interrelated concepts. But one discriminating criterion is the significantly higher degree of systemic rejection that woke demands. This extends beyond just society and trickles down substantially into its substructures.

In electoral politics, this means perceptions of institutions like political parties and the transactional nature of political campaigns. More purely woke politicians are much more suspicious of working through existing parties and more hesitant to dilute their agendas with appeals to out-groups as part of their electoral strategy. Perhaps the best-known in Louisiana of them is Democrat Gary Chambers, who lost bids for the U.S. House and Senate yet drew substantial support working entirely outside of the party apparatus.

These tendencies didn’t appear to be drawbacks to the 2020 and 2021 campaigns that brought woke New Orleans politicians, all Democrats, Mayor LaToya Cantrell, District Attorney Jason Williams, and Sheriff Susan Hutson, victories. Again using the policy area of criminal justice where all contribute in its administration, with voter assent each brought woke agendas to carrying out their legal duties.


But it didn’t work out for the state Senate contest for the more woke of the two candidates, Landry. Duplessis was more willing to engage in transactional politics with interests opposed to the woke agenda, trying to placate them on at least some issues, and he more vigorously courted traditional organizations, of Democrats, blacks, and others. Importantly, his racial appeals centered on transactional benefits, not woke bromides. Enough voters responded to hand him a close win.

With his House seat now vacated, a special election was needed to fill that. A runoff between black Democrats ensued, led by community organizer Sibil Fox Richardson with small businessman Alonzo Knox not far behind.

Richardson, with a criminal background and whose post-prison efforts have focused on the incarcerated, articulated the more woke agenda while Knox, who once worked for various Democrat elected officials and has served in various local government-related positions, came off as the more mainstream, even as both articulated progressive issue preferences.

Perhaps indicating wokeism was losing steam as a distinguishing concept, some groups and politicians including Hutson more often aligned with woke agendas (including a group focusing on political engagement of former convicts) endorsed Knox while several party-oriented elected officials backed Richardson. In the runoff, Knox came out ahead.

It is a somewhat isolated set of cases, one part of New Orleans with considerable overlap. And a recent recall effort against Cantrell fizzled, but statute makes these difficult to succeed. Still, that the less extreme, even if relatively extreme, candidates won election might serve as the canary in the coal mine suggesting that wokeism has peaked. With regular legislative elections up to the plate this fall, that thesis will receive a much more comprehensive test.



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