By Yonoson Rosenblum | NOVEMBER 9, 202
For now, the omens are good for Republicans
On June 3, 2008, Senator Barack Obama proclaimed, upon clinching the Democratic presidential nomination, "This is the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."
I kind of felt the same way upon wakening last Wednesday morning to learn that Republican Glenn Youngkin had won the Virginia gubernatorial race, in a state that President Biden carried by ten points just a year ago. To whomever would listen, I declared, "This is the moment when sanity began return to America. The moment when we stop dividing schoolchildren into white oppressors and black victims; the moment when access to bathrooms and locker rooms is no longer determined on the basis of one's self-declared gender identity; the moment when we once again reassert control of our borders."
Of course, not much came of Obama's boast. The seas did not stop rising. And within two years of his election, Democrats lost over 60 members in the House, and a slew of seats in the Senate and governorships.
So perhaps nothing will come of Youngkin's surprise victory, either. But for now, the omens are good for Republicans. First, Youngkin hit upon a wedge issue to win back affluent suburban voters: education, in particular the suspicion that their children are being indoctrinated into radical racial and gender perspectives. And he did so while surpassing Donald Trump's percentages in rural Virginia.
Youngkin could not have made education such an important issue without a huge assist from his opponent, former governor Terry McAuliffe, who said in their second debate, "I do not think parents should be telling schools what to teach." That is what's known as a "Michael Kinsley gaffe" — i.e., when a politician inadvertently speaks the truth. McAuliffe was expressing the true Democratic Party position.
Attorney General Merrick Garland made that clear when he issued a memorandum to every US Attorney to develop plans, in conjunction with the FBI, to prevent harassment and intimidation of local school board members, in an effort to scare off parents from confronting their school board representatives. When the National Association of School Boards, whose letter to President Biden was composed in conjunction with the White House, and which letter formed the factual basis for Garland's memo, apologized and withdrew its letter, the attorney general doggedly refused to revoke his memo.
Even had McAuliffe wanted to walk back his statement, he couldn't have. He and his party are too deeply intertwined with the teachers' unions, who supply both money and election-day manpower, and those unions are fully committed to the very indoctrination protested by parents in suburban Loudon County and elsewhere. Just this past summer, the National Education Association affirmed its commitment to a "curriculum... informed by... critical race theory." Peter McClaren, one of the leading lights of the related academic field of "critical pedagogy," describes his approach to truth: "Knowledge should be analyzed on the basis of whether it is oppressive or exploitative, and not on the basis of whether it is 'true.'"
Nebraska's Senator Ben Sasse was on target when he congratulated Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, whom McAuliffe trotted out to stump with him on the campaign's final weekend, for being the "GOP's MVP." He pointed out that the teachers' unions have opposed every effort to get teachers back into the classroom, which has not exactly endeared them to parents.
REPUBLICANS TAKING BACK Virginia from the bright blue column — they captured all three statewide offices up for election and a majority of the House of Delegates — garnered most of the media attention. But what happened in New Jersey, where the Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli came within a whisker of defeating Democratic incumbent Phil Murphy, in a state Biden carried by 16 points, should have affrighted Democrats no less.
As NRO's Jim Geraghty put it, "If Virginia was the loss Democrats dreaded, New Jersey is the potential loss that is hitting them like a meteorite crashing through the atmosphere." No one foresaw the closeness of the race — Ciattarelli led most of the night. The final Monmouth University poll showed Murphy with an 8- to 14-point lead. But the real meteorite was Edward Durr, a truck driver, who spent a grand total of $2,300 on his campaign, taking down Steve Sweeney, the longest-serving president of the New Jersey state senate and a seven-term incumbent.
As portents for 2022 and beyond go, even the New Jersey and Virginia races probably understate how deeply underwater the Democrats are nationally. Many of the issues upon which Democrats fare worst in national polls will be far more relevant to races for the House and Senate than they were in state contests.
Afghanistan, for instance, is not an issue about which governors can do a great deal. Yet the bumbling withdrawal alerted the American public to the president's inadequacies, and the issue of the hundreds of Americans and tens of thousands of Afghans who aided American forces left stranded behind will resurface in 2022, despite the MSM's studiously ignoring the subject. Similarly, no governor can do much about our open southern border. But unprecedented numbers of illegal immigrants entering the country will be a major issue for years to come.
On most of the crucial national issues that will likely be decisive in the 2022 midterm elections for Congress, Republicans currently enjoy a substantial advantage in public confidence. On border security, Republicans are currently up by 27 percent; on inflation, by 24 percent, and the economy in general by 18 percent; on crime, by 22 percent; and with respect to "the ability to get things done" by 13 percent. These are not scant margins.
Finally, the issue of education, upon which Youngkin built a 15-point advantage among voters with school-aged children, will not soon go away.
Nor is the American public thirsting for "transformative change," as the progressive caucus in Congress seems to think. The most recent Gallup poll on the subject found that 52 percent think the government is trying to do too much, as opposed to 40 percent who think it should do more. It is unlikely that the general public will be thrilled by an infrastructure bill that includes half a trillion dollars for weatherizing homes and incentives for solar panel production. And they know that the infusion of such sums into the economy will only heat up inflation, already at the highest levels in decades.
TERRY McAULIFFE'S CAMPAIGN was almost entirely centered on trying to link Youngkin to Donald Trump. The Lincoln Project, an effort of former Republican political operatives, even posed as white nationalists (carrying the same wiki torches as those carried by white nationalists at Charlottesville in 2017) committed to Youngkin, before the hoax was exposed. But Youngkin reminded exactly no one of the former president: He is soft-spoken, articulate, and never personalized the campaign against McAuliffe. He refused to re-litigate 2020, and focused on the issues facing Virginia.
Once the results were in, most Democrats and their media lapdogs fell quickly into their favorite trope: White racism had again prevailed; Youngkin had roped in white voters with dog whistles signaling the return of white dominance. Well, Douglas Wilder, Virginia's first black governor nearly thirty years ago, pointedly refused to endorse his fellow Democrat, McAuliffe. Apparently, he did not view Youngkin as running a racist campaign.
Did the accusers note that Winsome Sears, the victorious Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, is black? As she told the crowd at the victory celebration, "In case you haven't noticed, I'm black, and I've been black my entire life." Or that the triumphant Republican candidate for state attorney general is Hispanic?
If anything, the Republicans have served notice that they intend to go hard after black and Hispanic voters in the years to come. In a heavily Hispanic San Antonio district that Biden carried by 17 points, John Lujan, the Republican, won a special run-off election for the Texas legislature.
And no photos of Youngkin yukking it up in black face have surfaced, as they did of the outgoing Democratic governor and attorney general of Virginia. Which is why the cry of "racist" will soon have has little impact as those of the little boy who cried wolf.