It is remarkable how often the conventional wisdom about political and cultural issues is not only wrong, but is actually nearly 180 degrees from being correct. There may be no greater currently-relevant example of this phenomenon than the public and media perception of Augusta National Golf Club, which this week is hosting The Masters golf tournament in Georgia, annually the most prestigious event in the sport.
Because the club is in the deep south, and is run mostly by older, heterosexual, white males who are largely conservative politically, it is widely presumed that everything the club and their famous tournament do is in line with those values and biases. Due to this, and the club’s evolution on racial issues, widely perceived to be very slow, it is easy for liberals and the news media to presume that anything they do which seems like it might be racist, surely must be.
What almost no one seems to understand is that the race issue has been successfully used as kryptonite to transform this former bastion of conservatism, where change was famously glacial and principles fiercely defended, into effectively a force for liberalism and even “wokeness.” The primary reason for this is that, especially post-Trump and Covid, the pressure to conform to progressive orthodoxy, and the fear of being cancelled, is so great that a place like Augusta National Golf Club simply has too much to lose in fighting battles for which — thanks to being perceived as a bastion of whiteness, maleness and conservatism — they no longer have any “force field” protection to ensure survival (which is ironic, because most of the liberal golf media would rather lose an arm than provoke even the mild wrath of the club).
For context, less than 20 years ago, Augusta National took on a full-scale media attack on its then lack of female members, stood incredibly strong, won, and allowed their private club to fully embrace those changes on their own timetable and not — as then-Augusta National chair Hootie Johnson said — “at the point of a bayonet.” However, take a look at all the things which have already happened at this week’s event, none of which, for better or worse, would have been even conceivable as little as 10 years ago:
— They have made Lee Elder, the first Black man to play in the tournament back in 1975, an honorary starter along with legends Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. While no one can argue that it is a very nice and productive gesture (of course, the very liberal sports/news media love it), neither can anyone rationally argue that this is not an act of politically correct affirmative action which diminishes the honor itself.
— After getting different types of heat from both President Joe Biden and GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley, who is clearly far left of all of his much older predecessors, went out of his way to make it clear that the club disapproved of Georgia’s “controversial” new voting law (which, in my view, has been totally misrepresented by the news media for a partisan Democratic advantage), while also not taking an “official” position. In previous years, the club would have gone in the opposite direction and defended their state against unfair attacks. But because of the kryptonite of the race issue, they are powerless to do so. (For the record, the fact that the Georgia law has been deemed “racist” seems awfully “racist” to me).
— The club’s position on Covid restrictions has resembled that of the Democratic National Convention. Despite golf being un-impacted by the virus due to the sport’s obvious advantages operating in an outdoor naturally-distanced environment, Augusta National postponed last year’s event and did not allow any “patrons” in their late-autumn version of the tournament, formerly famous for its traditional April date. Now, they have inexplicably canceled their popular par-3 contest for a second straight year and, despite their state not requiring any such restrictions, they will allow, in an act of obvious anti-science virtue-signaling, only a tiny portion of their regular attendance and will strictly enforce mask wearing, even among children.
The political relevance of this goes far beyond the conducting of a golf tournament which the majority of Americans don’t really care about. It exposes just how pervasive and complete the liberal/progressive takeover of our nation has become, all in an incredibly short amount of time.
For if even Augusta National Golf Club, with all of its power, prestige, and money, can be so easily forced into promoting a progressive view of the world (not because they really believe in it, but because they fear another battle with the woke mob) then conservatives have lost an incredibly important firewall against this radical cultural change which has been unleashed in the last two years. And if Georgia has really gone fully “woke,” then there is simply no Electoral College math for Democrats to lose the presidency, at least not in the near future.
There are a lot of reasons why this has all happened (the dominance of “Woke Twitter” over the national conversation is a big one), but the most underrated is generational. World War II veterans and older viewed their role as maintaining the world they fought for so that future generations could also enjoy the fruits of their labor/sacrifice, and they were willing to take some personal risk to make sure that happened.
For “baby boomers” and younger, life is just too good/easy, and there is simply too much to lose for them to risk anything for people they may never even know. Their primary objective is self-preservation, and defending conservative principles is now antithetical to that goal. It is far easier to go along with the new “woke normal,” as long as they themselves don’t get cancelled, or even criticized.
This is exactly how a once great nation gets fundamentally changed, forever.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.