Virginia Is Full Of White Supremacist Parents, Or Something
In a not entirely surprising upset, Republican Glenn Youngkin beat out Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial race. Going into September, the race seemed a lock for McAuliffe until he committed the mother of all political blunders; in a September 29th debate, he stated that “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach." Not content with that amount of self-inflicted damage, McAuliffe went on to state:
"’In the final week of this race, Glenn Youngkin has doubled down on the same divisive culture wars that have fueled his campaign from the very beginning,’ McAuliffe said in a statement, after his Republican opponent had run an advertisement in which a mother complained about McAuliffe's nonresponsiveness to her objecting to the explicit sexual material of an unnamed novel (Toni Morrison's Beloved) that had been assigned to her high school senior son. ‘Youngkin's closing message of book banning and silencing esteemed Black authors is a racist dog whistle designed to gin up support from the most extreme elements of his party—mainly his top endorser and surrogate, Donald Trump.’”
Not a good time to say something like that in public, given the current fever pitch around public schools and what is taught in them. Those statements were all the Youngkin campaign needed to gain ground on him and ultimately beat him by 50.9% to 48.4%. Also helpful to Youngkin was his refusal to bring Trump’s three-ring circus into his campaign, having never formally accepted Trump’s endorsement and even skipping a virtual rally Trump held in his honor.
Youngkin wasn’t the only Republican to win in Virginia—Winsome Sears won the lieutenant governor seat, and Jason Miyares defeated the incumbent Mark Herring in the attorney general election. Notably, Sears is the first woman to be elected lieutenant governor in Virginia and the first woman of color to hold a statewide office, while Miyares will be the first Latino attorney general in the state.
As it turns out, portraying parents concerned not only with critical race theory but also with school closures, mask mandates, learning loss, and other COVID-related education issues as racists is not a winning election strategy.
The Virginia gubernatorial race should serve as a lesson for Democrats and progressives—calling everyone you don’t agree with a racist or a white supremacist is a bad strategy that does not win hearts and minds.
Instead, progressives lined up on Twitter to double down on that very strategy:
MSNBC had a bad time coping with the McAuliffe loss as well
Doubling down on a losing strategy seems, to put it bluntly, really fucking dumb, and yet here we are.
What fascinates me about this reaction is that “extremely online” progressives seem to think that the strategies that shut down conversations on social media translate to electoral politics. As we saw in the Virginia races, that idea doesn’t hold water, but there are an amazing amount of people who are wedded to the idea that Twitter is real life and so have no clue how to act when the strategies that work on social media fail to work in the real world.
But when all you have is a hammer, what else are you to do? Progressives have gone so far down the path of making everything a racial issue that they simply have no other tools in their box to use: certainly nothing like empathy or even sympathy for parents who, during COVID, struggled to make sure their children got the education they needed; no understanding that some of those parents got their first glimpse into what their children were learning and didn’t like what they found; and most damning and damaging for Democrats, no awareness that there are a lot of very angry parents who are more than willing to vent their frustrations at the ballot box if they can’t vent them anywhere else.
Not every angry parent at a school board meeting is an aggrieved white “domestic terrorist” who is dead set against having their child learn critical race theory. In fact, I’d bet most of those parents have no clue what critical race theory is or what all the fuss is about. I would bet the majority of those parents are people who are pissed that, for 18 months, they were told to shut up and suck it up by people who had the resources to make sure their kids were well taken care of. Demonizing working-class parents with legitimate concerns over their children's education does nothing other than give Republicans a perfect excuse to paint Democrats as a group of out-of-touch elitists who want to indoctrinate your kids into a CRT cult.
Anyone who wanted to could have seen this wave coming. Republicans, by seizing education as a wedge issue, sure did. Democrats chose to gaslight themselves into thinking "parental rights" is a code for white supremacy, and it looks like they are going to pay the price for that mistake.