Contrary to many political prophecies, the election of Republican Glenn Youngkin as governor of Virginia does not augur a bloodbath for Democrats in the 2022 midterms. If it finally pounds in the lesson that the woke crusades of the far left are poison to the party, it may even improve the party’s prospects.
The Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe lost in a state that had preferred Joe Biden over Donald Trump by 10 points. Candidate Youngkin managed to thread the needle of not attacking Trump while keeping a far distance. In his victory speech, he didn’t even mention Trump’s name.
There was a lesson here for Republicans, too.
Youngkin exploited the alarm many Virginia parents have at stories of crusades to make white kids feel guilty over the traumas suffered by African Americans. Though the fears were way overblown, they did find traction in the noisy demands of elite lefties.
And if you think that’s a suburban Virginia thing, consider the conflict at a public school in the liberal Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. It was over a mural placed in the cafeteria that read “Black Lives Matter,” “Black Trans Lives Matter” and the more militant “Your Silence Will Not Protect You.”
Hispanics make up the school’s largest group, followed by whites and Asians. What about them? The principal wanted the sign to say something more inclusive, such as, “Hate has no home here.” She ordered the mural down to the applause of many parents.
Other election results across the country showcased Democratic restraint. Minneapolis voters rejected a move to replace their police department with a Department of Public Safety. Lefty supporters — thinking the revulsion to the murder of George Floyd by police would give them a win — turned themselves inside out to explain what they meant, that they were not abolishing the police presence. As it happened, the referendum contained the words “remove the police.” Is the far left that dumb? It is.
New Yorkers easily elected Eric Adams, a former police captain and an African American, as mayor. In Ohio, Shontel Brown won a special election to replace Rep. Marcia Fudge. Brown had won the Democratic primary after a tough battle against Nina Turner, who worked for party saboteur Sen. Bernie Sanders and likened a vote for Biden to eating a “bowl of s—.” Sanders endorsed Turner, of course, as did Rep. Ilhan Omar.
Isn’t it time Democrats knocked off the sulking Omar in a primary? Even in her super liberal Minneapolis district, Biden won 80% of the vote in 2020, but Omar took only 64%. Almost any Democrat could have done better. Getting Omar off the news channels would be a win for Democrats and a blow to Republicans.
Youngkin succeeded in convincing Virginia voters that he was, at bottom, a moderate. Much of the punditry will make huge predictions based on a Republican winning the governorship in a blue state. But voters clearly distinguish between state officials and national ones. Massachusetts is a lot more liberal than Virginia, and it has a Republican governor who puts 1,000 miles between himself and Trump.
The holdup of the bipartisan and popular infrastructure bill no doubt fatigued many Virginia Democrats into inaction. It’s time for Democrats to pressure the so-called House progressives to support a no-strings-tied vote on infrastructure. Some of their better social priorities — prekindergarten education, for example — can be addressed later.
Republicans, meanwhile, should observe that they can win in fairly liberal places when they amputate Trump from their message. If Democrats dethroned the left radicals and Republicans rejected the right-wing crazies, what a nicer, more functional country this could be.
Froma Harrop, a syndicated columnist, writes for the Providence (Rhode Island) Journal. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.