Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Did Critical Race Theory Lose Virginia?

By Joel Kotkin

The stunning defeat suffered by the Democrats in Virginia, a surprisingly close race in deep blue New Jersey and the defeat of a “police defunding measure” in Minneapolis represent a remarkable turning point in American politics. It is less an affirmation of a resurgent Trumpism than a rejection of what might be called Bidenism, an unnatural merger of traditional Democratic corporate politics with a radical, progressive agenda.

Appealing to what James Carville, Bill Clinton’s campaign manager, has dubbed “faculty lounge politics” — with its emphasis on Critical Race Theory, racial quotas, transgenderism and defunding the police — has become an obvious flaw in their political strategy. These positions might prove popular in certain sections of the media, but not so much among the public.

The Virginia results made evident these failures, particularly on radical education and transgender policies. A state that was on the verge of becoming a deep blue bastion, largely based on the affluent Washington suburbs, moved to the Right in part due to resistance among parents to a new progressive education agenda that prioritised issues such as race, slavery and gender. State-wide polls taken just before the election showed Governor-elect Gregg Youngkin beat Democrat Terry McCauliffe by 15 points among parents.

Yet educational excess was not the only policy area that hurt the Democrats. Overall, the election was won in the Northern Virginia suburbs where the GOP reduced the large Trump deficit in half from 2020. Here, as across the state, the sagging economy and rampaging inflation will have dominated this election; exit polls show that taxes and economic worries were even larger factors than education, pushing voters towards Youngkin.

Not surprisingly the egomaniacal Trump and his minions will claim credit for the GOP gains — Republicans also won Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor race, the state Legislature and possibly the Attorney General — as their own. This is true in part, the Republican base in the state’s rural hinterlands overwhelmingly opted for Youngkin.

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