As has been widely noted, progressives and mainstream media have a fairly straightforward explanation for the role education played in last week’s Virginia election: It was a racist “dog whistle.” The from the Washington Post Jonathan Capehart said the results showed Republicans believe “white supremacist tap dance is their way to power.” On election night, the president of the DNC Jaime HarrisonJaime HarrisonRNC targets McAuliffe, Biden campaign event with Biden mobile billboard to crush McAuliffe in testing his election branding explained on MSNBC, “It’s a dog whistle to divide people. And let’s call it that. It is about racial divisions, racial hatred, racial animosity.
It’s not just ridiculously off-base, it’s exactly upside down.
There is the sheer oddity of alleging that all of this is just deep racism in a state that President BidenJoe Biden’s Ortega Nicaragua Set To Win Election Amid International Criticism Representative Gosar Releases Anime Video Showing Him Hitting Biden, Ocasio-Cortez Overnight Energy & Environment – Brought to you by ExxonMobil – Campaigners cry foul over COP26 PLUS project won last year by ten points, where no Republican had won statewide for over a decade, and where the winners included the state’s first black female lieutenant governor and the first Latino attorney general . Indeed, it took a sociology degree from Georgetown to follow the rationalizations, with black Republicans. fired as the new face of white supremacy and Latino voters, long heralded as the cornerstone of the emerging Democratic majority, now disparaged as just another batch of white voters.
But such criticisms of the “everything is racism” explanation, while true, understates the importance of what Republican Glenn youngkinGlenn YoungkinTrump hits out at Christie after former NJ governor called on GOP to move past 2020 election claims Ex-Clinton strategist: Virginia results show Democrats “went too left on key issues to educated suburban voters “Murphy campaign calls on Ciattarelli to give in NJ Gubernatorial Election PLUS done by winning the election for governor.
In a high-turnout election, Youngkin won independent candidates and made gains in all areas – above all with school-aged parents. It’s a strange kind of racism. So maybe there is another explanation.
Youngkin did not use education to gain the grassroots; he used it to reinforce his image of himself as a sensitive and sympathetic suburban dad and to connect with commuters and disgruntled Biden voters. His education pitch was intended to show he understands how disruptive school closures are and why parents would be worried when their high school student starts teaching them that urban riots are really just an answer. heroic to the culture of white supremacy.
Indeed, while the details were quite different, Youngkin’s approach has much more in common with how Bill clintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson Clinton Republicans regain their campaign mojo – and it’s Bush, not Trump After brutal election day, Democrats make a wise comeback Unelected staff who elect “president” MORE, George W. Bush and Barack obamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Energy & Environment – Presented by ExxonMobil – Campaigners cry foul over COP26 balance / sustainability project – Presented by Altria – Obama pushes world to do more at COP26 Biden administration proposes to repeal the Trump rule by expanding religious exemptions MORE used education to appeal to the environment than with the way Donald trumpDonald TrumpMeat’s industry groups pledge to meet Paris Agreement emissions targets by 2030 Judge launches part of DC AG lawsuit against Trump’s inaugural committee., Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton Ex-Clinton Strategist: Virginia Results Show Democrats “Went Too To The Left On Key Issues For Educated Suburban Voters” New Hampshire Debates Important and Controversial Map Change American house PLUS, and Joe Biden used core attacks or loan cancellation calls to energize the base in 2016 and 2020.
For a long time, education was a big part of how contestants wooed the center. This gave them the opportunity to speak at length about the opportunity, responsibility and shared values to woo the center. In 1988, George HW Bush used his promise to be “the president of education” to illustrate his “kinder, gentler” conservatism. In 2000, a pledge to “leave no child behind” was George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” signing pledge.
For Bill Clinton, Al goreAlbert (Al) Arnold Gore Five Things to Watch Out for in Governor Virginia McAuliffe’s 2000 Election Race: “Wish the US Supreme Court had let them finish counting the votes” All Democrats Must Compromise to adopt economic plans, just like 1993 PLUS, and Barack Obama, defying the orthodoxy of teachers’ unions, supporting charter schools, embracing notions like school uniforms and speaking of parental responsibility were all ways of highlighting their centrist good faith and countering the GOP claims they were reckless revolutionaries or old-fashioned tax and spending liberal.
This approach has stalled in recent years. In 2016, Donald Trump treated education as another way to energize his base, promising to abolish the core curriculum, embracing school choice and saying little to expand its appeal. In 2020, driven by the massive supply of Bernie sandersBernie Sanders Ex-Clinton strategist: Results in Virginia show Democrats “went too left on key issues for educated suburban voters” Former Goldman Sachs boss speaks on infrastructure vote: “Progressives have blink “ and Elizabeth warrenElizabeth WarrenFed Gov. Quarles resigns, opening seat for Biden, Democrats scramble to find way forward after electoral setbacks White House asked Senate Democrats to meet with Powell this month: MORE reportJoe Biden played on the progressive basis, encompassing “free” college, cancellation of college loans, universal pre-K, and massive new federal spending for Kindergarten to Grade 12.
Well, the Virginia run was a case of back to the future.
When it comes to education, Youngkin mainly argued that schools should be open, listen to parents, and reject weird ideological agendas. And that was an easy argument for him. After all, whether “Critical Race Theory” (CRT) is formally taught in Virginia or not, CRT is certainly present in schools in Virginia. Loudoun County, Virginia, told teachers that ideas like “independence and individual achievement” are racist characteristics of “white individualism.”
In response to complaints about the CRT, sexually explicit images in school libraries and school gender policies, Democratic opponent of Youngkin, former governor Terry McAuliffeTerry McAuliffe Ex-Clinton strategist: Virginia results show Democrats “went too left on key issues for educated suburban voters” Murphy campaign calls on Ciattarelli to concede NJ Trump’s gubernatorial election to rally the House Republicans as party turns to midterm MOREsaid revealingly: “I don’t think parents should tell schools what to teach.” And then, despite parents’ frustration with prolonged school closures in Virginia, in a cast of deaf stuntmen, McAuliffe asked the head of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten – perhaps the person most associated with school closures. excessive and intransigent schools – the headliner of his latest rally.
In the Virginia run, education helped Youngkin convince suburban parents that he had felt their frustration and pain.
While his campaign proposed the standard, wobbly five-point education plan, Youngkin tended to focus on simple, unswerving points: that schools should be open, responsive to parents, and reject racial caricature and campus-type extremism.
Whatever talking heads may think of MSNBC, it’s a measured stance with widespread appeal.
In polarized times, it has been easy for pundits and poles to focus on grassroots mobilization at the expense of swing voters. This has had big implications for how we engage on education issues with the snark of social media replacing serious debate. While many media seem to have missed it, Youngkin has just shown another way forward.
Frederick M. Hess is Director of Educational Policy Studies at the American Institute of Business.