The End of Wokeism
Last Tuesday’s off-year elections may not have been the end of Wokeism, but they may have been the beginning of the end of Wokeism. The headline election was Glenn Youngkin’s victory over Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia governor’s race. Youngkin won by campaigning on issues important to suburban moms as well as conservatives; education, crime and the economy. Less recognized, but possibly equally important, was the fact that in addition to Youngkin’s win, Republicans also won the races for Lieutenant Governor and state Attorney General and (at the time of this writing) have a good chance to win the statehouse as well.
But change was in the air, not just in Virginia, but across the country. Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican Jack Ciattarelli were in a virtual tie in the race to be the next governor of New Jersey, with 88% of the vote counted. Murphy was eventually called as the winner with a margin of 19,000 votes out of 2.4 million cast (0.8%) but a recount remains a possibility.
But there is more than that! In New Jersey’s 3rd Legislative District, Ed Durr, a truck driver who has never held office and had a measly $10,000 campaign budget, is on the verge of defeating Democratic state Senate President Steve Sweeney. And in the Buffalo, New York mayor’s race, far-left Democratic Socialist India Walton (who had beaten incumbent Byron Brown in the primary) lost the election to Brown’s write-in campaign despite being the only candidate on the ballot. Minneapolis voters defeated a proposal to change the city charter to eliminate the Minneapolis police department (which the city council had voted unanimously to eliminate but lacked the power to do so). Moderate candidates are leading progressives by wide margins in Seattle (yes, Seattle!) elections for mayor and city attorney.
And across the country, moms and dads were electing school board members that were pledging to purge Critical Race Theory from their public schools. Conservatives won control of the school board in Southlake, Texas by a landslide, promising to end diversity, equity and inclusion training and blocking changes in curriculum. Conservatives also made gains in school boards from Douglas County, Colorado to Guilford, Connecticut.
Curious about reaction to this sea change in attitudes, I tuned into Morning Joe on MSNBC to get their take on events. A plethora of Democratic talking heads, including HUD Secretary Julian Castro, moaned about the result and lamented that the Democrats had not properly communicated their progressive agenda to the voters which would have been powerfully supported at the polls if the voters had been sufficiently enlightened (or indoctrinated if you prefer). As Host Joe Scarborough noted, “you have to throw the straw where the goats can eat it.” Mika nodded in agreement.
The talking heads did not even consider the possibility that the setbacks to their Democratic agenda was due to a rejection of those policies by voters. Instead they felt that the lack of progress in getting the Invest in America Act and the Build Back Better Plan bills passed and implemented had angered impatient voters (although how voting for Republicans would somehow send a message to speed up passage of the bills escapes me). Their reaction was not to step back and think about reformulating those plans but rather to hurry up and jam them through so that voters would be sufficiently appreciative come November 2022.
They attributed Youngkin’s victory to a racist attack on progressive school programs such as those being proposed in Loudon County, Virginia. They repeated McAuliffe’s assertion that Critical Race Theory (a college level concept that was developed at Harvard law school) is not being taught in Virginia schools and that criticism of CRT by Republicans was a racist dog whistle. I must agree. CRT is not being taught to kids in Virginia public schools, it is being taught to teachers and administrators so that they can implement diversity, equity and inclusion training programs based on CRT into Virginia public schools (the idea apparently being that once sufficiently trained, Critical Race Theory will seem reasonable and even preferable once those public school kids get into college).
In the run up to the 2020 elections, voters rejected Bernie Sander’s (as well as Elizabeth Warren’s) socialist agenda in favor of a more centrist candidate, Joe Biden, to run against Donald Trump. Imagine voter’s surprise when the Biden Administration adopted whole-heartedly the Bernie Sander’s progressive agenda. Instead of working across the aisle and building consensus and bi-partisanship, Joe Biden is staking claim to become the most progressive president since FDR (and Chuck Schumer is helping by naming Sanders (a non-Democrat) as Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee).
As I mentioned in my commentary of July 21st earlier this year, Desperation, the progressive wing of the Democratic party is getting very desperate. They see the chances of getting their progressive wish list approved fading. Some actual moderate Democrats (Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema) are blocking passage of the radical multi-trillion dollar packages of freebies and entitlements for the middle class and holding out for a more modest proposal. The results of this off year election are not likely to change their mind or the minds of other closet moderate Democrats too afraid of the progressive cancel culture to speak out.
There is another factor that helped Glenn Youngkin win the governor’s race in Virginia. Although Donald Trump had endorsed Youngkin back in May, he stayed pretty much out of the race and out of the state. Instead of a famous Trump rally at some stadium to boost last-minute turnout before the vote, Trump attended a World Series Game in Atlanta.
Terry McAuliffe tried to portray Youngkin as a White supremacist Trump clone, as noted by CNN. But Youngkin dodged that characterization by sticking to issues that most affected Virginia voters, education, crime and the economy. He didn’t trash Trump, but he didn’t engage in conspiracy theories either. In addition, his running mates for Lt. Governor and Attorney General were a woman of color and a Latino proving McAuliffe’s charges were ludicrous.
This is a strategy that Republicans must seriously think about for 2022. Youngkin is clearly an intelligent and well-spoken candidate (you don’t get to be co-CEO of a private equity firm of the stature of the Carlyle Group by being a glad-handing dummy). But candidates for the House and Senate need to not only address the issues that concern Americans, they need to take the Trump clone arrow out of the Democrats’ quiver. Take that away and they have to run on Biden’s disastrous record, their whacky far-left agenda and political infighting within their own party. Without Trump, Democrats have little to motivate their base. The lack of enthusiasm was apparent throughout McAuliffe’s campaign. Even trotting out Democratic luminaries like Barack Obama, Kamala Harris and Stacey Abrams couldn’t generate much enthusiasm.
And if Donald Trump truly cares about the future success of the Republican Party and the prospects for American democracy, then he should be content to play elder statesman and kingmaker, drop the election was stolen trope, forget the hope of a come-back in 2024 and let rising stars hold the rallies and take the spotlight. I know it will be difficult for him to keep his narcissistic ego in control. But, after the January 6th riot, his brand is toxic, and he along with his family members are unelectable. Besides, I think he is going to be pretty busy fending off criminal charges and civil complaints that are lining up against him across the country.
If this off-year election has taught us anything it is that the American people want politics to move back toward the center so that they can get on with their lives. That way we can move on beyond Wokeism, Trumpism and a lot of other isms.