deployment of K-12 public education as the lead racial dog whistle in
Virginia determined the Republican victory in the 2021 gubernatorial
race. Glen Youngkin, the Party’s standard-bearer, presented a
handsome and charismatic façade of Ted Bundy, the notorious
serial killer of the 1970s, as he used a series of vile and racist
tropes to excite racial passions with a smile.
Trump-endorsed Youngkin held the orange man at bay - like a matador
with a raging bull - while physically keeping him out of the state
during his campaign. Youngkin deftly deflected all questions about
his relationship with Trump, bobbing and weaving like the late
Muhamad Ali, while discretely tossing red meat to MAGA supporters.
used critical race theory (CRT) as his primary wedge issue and
wrapped it around parent involvement in the schools, the masking of
children against COVID-19, bathroom transgender politics, the K-12
curriculum, and personal liberty. Youngkin continuously stoked it
with an array of Asian, Latinx, and Black supporters in his TV ads
and photo shoots. Dismantling these issues, however, reveals that
racial antipathy was at its center.
opponent, former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe (2013-2017) whom
state law denied a run in consecutive terms, stumped his political
toe frequently: dismissing parents as participants in their
children’s schools, bringing in Democratic heavyweights to make
his case (when local issues were on voters’ minds), and
portraying Youngkin as a Trump clone. Although none of these
political strategies worked, McAuliffe held onto them until the end
of the race.
his condescending tone toward parents was as damaging to his overall
campaign as was Obama’s haughtiness toward Hillary Clinton in a
January 5, 2008 debate in New Hampshire. He responded to a question
about her likeability by stating, “She’s
Obama was ahead in the polls by double digits at that time but went
on to a decisive loss to Hillary in the New Hampshire Democratic
presidential primary held the following week.
Youngkin campaign was aided by Winsome Sears, an African American
female Republican who was elected to the office of Lt. Governor, the
first woman of color to win the office. She was not as extreme as
previous Black Republican Lt. Gov. candidates, and she softened his
image among Black females, who gave McAuliffe 94 percent of their
vote when he ran for governor in 2013. As a veteran, she also
appealed to Virginia’s large military population.
Youngkin’s victory speech was not extreme. He did not mention
CRT one time although he declared that he would banish its teaching
from the public schools last week. Instead, he said he wanted kids
taught to be “critical
a position with which most Americans of all political persuasions
latest results show that Youngkin and Sears are close to reducing the
House of Delegates’ Democratic majority turning it into an
evenly split body, and providing the new administration with the
opportunity to get some of its agenda passed. This may truly be a
Republican revolution in Virginia.
Democratic Party had a bad election night last Tuesday seemingly
because they have lost the ability to communicate effectively with
their voters and not alienate Independents and suburbanites. They
could take a Master Class on these matters from Glen Youngkin.
Democrats ignored the lack of enthusiasm among their base voters, the
House progressives continue to wage war with Congressional
moderates/centrists who raise concerns about their Build
reconciliation bill. When questioned about the Democratic infighting
and the delay in passing the physical and social infrastructure
legislation, their leader, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), responded by
saying Democratic voters want her to stand firm while only presenting
anecdotal evidence to that effect.
Jayapal has defied Speaker Pelosi and President Biden and now claims
she has both bills ready for a vote. It would have been helpful to
McAuliffe if she had pushed these laws through weeks ago, as he would
have likely had the political winds at his back during the last
stretch of his campaign. Jayapal is to blame, as her political hubris
appears to have overwhelmed her political antennae.
he was leading his Republican rival, John Ciattarelli, by eight
points in last week’s poll, New Jersey’s Democratic Gov.
Phil Murphy unexpectedly has a tough bid for reelection. If finally
defeated, he will continue the long line of Democratic governors who
have been denied reelection during the past 44 years. However, once
all the votes are tallied next week, Murphy should prevail since the
outstanding votes are primarily in Democratic areas.
Republicans may have found a remedy for removing Trump’s
stranglehold on their Party with the Youngkin triumph in Virginia and
the strong showing of Ciattarelli in New Jersey, states which Biden
won by 10 and 16 points, respectively, in 2020. They have learned to
repackage Donald Trump’s racial tropes and racial dog whistles
in such a way as to separate themselves from their erstwhile leader.
are currently in disarray and need to gather themselves to avert a
political tsunami that may be headed their way in the 2022 midterms.
They need to buckle up!