Glenn Youngkin: Republican savior, valiant feller of Clintonworld crony Terry McAuliffe, hard-hearted transphobe and buttoned-up white supremacist, or milquetoast hedgie solely interested in raking off the Commonwealth’s general fund?
Which could it be??? The answer is, in our flopsy-mopsy relativistic age, a choose-your-own-interpretation parlor game.
Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of ink has been spilled on the ramifications of political newbie Glenn Youngkin reclaiming Virginia’s Executive Mansion for Republicans, along with his running mates, Winsome Sears and Jason Miyares. Much is bromidic. Democratic operatives excuse the loss, attributing it to white backlash. The right, which has an uncanny knack for stomping on its own feet in the marketing department, touted a resurgence of patriotic sentiment in Washington’s home state.
(Full disclosure: as an outer Beltway resident, I voted for Youngkin and the Republican ticket with the most passionate “MEH” I could muster. The reason? To poke the left in the eye, of course. Oh, and that whole white-people-evil-curricula-Loudoun-trans-bathroom-rape-coverup sheboggle.)
But contrarian columnist Matthew Walther has a novel, if profound-by-half, reason why an outmatched Youngkin prevailed over money-bags McAuliffe. It’s not favorable to well-to-do denizens of Northern Virginia, which contains the wealthiest counties in the country. Another disclosure: I live among these suburban aristoi and can’t help but take offense to Walther’s characterization, even if I secretly agree with some of it.
As poli-sci professor Darel Paul has already pointed out, Walther mistakenly concludes the military-industrial-complex grandees of DC exurbs simply “fired the help,” i.e. punished school administrators in a roundabout way for staying closed for some 18 months. The counties of Arlington, Loudoun, and Fairfax (my county of residence) all remained firmly ultramarine. The well-compensated, overly credentialed PMC districts put their ballot right where their economic interest is: within the Democratic Party.
Walther is convinced otherwise, declaring that any suburban-pasty pushback against so-called “critical race theory” amounts only to the sobbing cris de coeur of “they should not tell us too much what to do!” The entire CRT brouhaha is, for Walther, a classist feint in defense of an avaricious lifestyle. In his characterization, NoVA parents just want schools open to supervise their kids during the day so they can update Excel spreadsheets during working hours, draw their inflated salaries, and order takeout prepared by an illegal immigrant at night—neglecting to recycle the Styrofoam container their spicy udon comes in, natch.
In Walther’s cynical estimation, this is what really “animates opposition to CRT.” Not the deliberately racist curriculum. Not the perverse abolition of academic standards. Not kindergarteners racially segregating during playtime to prove America is a white-favoritist hell. Not the brow-beating of white students into admitting they’re intrinsically evil because of the epidermis coating life’s lottery awarded them.
While CRT-inspired curricula was a motivating factor for many concerned Virginia voters, that wasn’t the case in the spook-friendly suburbs that bank the Potomac, which, despite the few dustups at school board meetings, remained solidly blue. Walther’s real error is misidentifying the opposition to CRT. He believes the bourgeoisie object to sundry DEI programs because any critique of American capitalism is a critique of their Hilton Head two-bed, two-bath condo.
His point is right, but only in reverse. White elites are the biggest, most assertive backers of the idea that America is a white-supremacist state dressed up in equality’s clothing. But not because they believe it—whether or not the vice president of B2B account acquisitions at Deloitte actually thinks human bondage is the bedrock of America’s birth is beside the mark.
The civic masochism liberals engage in when slagging the country that affords them an in-ground pool with adjoining jacuzzi is a ruse. It’s a deliberate misdirection, a defensive class crouch, a sop to victimology to excuse their own excesses. Sure, Mr. and Mrs. GoodWhiteAlly of Ashburn will each purchase a copy of White Fragility (plus some extras for the library of their children’s private school) and discuss its shaming propositions within their Zoom book club. They’ll browse Ta-Nehisis Coates’s essays while awaiting the Guatemalan nanny to drop their kids off from soccer practice. They’ll train their tongues to pronounce “equity” rather than “equality.”
But they will never, ever, ever, not in a million AAdvantage miles, take substantive action to close the racial wealth gap. Not refinance their million dollar palace and give the proceeds away to the Y in their closest metro, not donate their two-year-old Audi to an inner city straphanger, not transfer a single asset or stock into start-up capital for a minority owned business.
Lefty swell’s support for Black Lives Matter and other grievance groups is all hat, no cattle. Need proof? Just recall every S&P 500 company posting BLM memes and hashtags after George Floyd’s death. The mass virtue signal ad campaign was just that—an ad campaign to express wokeness for profit. The surfeit was so much so that a cottage industry emerged to log companies that did not post monochromatic black squares on the corporate Insta account.
The white-picket woke didn’t switch as a body to the GOP. They remained firmly staked in camp T-Mac. Youngkin won by peeling off enough middle-middle-class and high-prole voters from the typical Democratic coalition. These new, or renewed, Republicans didn’t hide that they were concerned almost monopolistically with schools. They resented that their tax dollars were funding race reeducation camps, and, what’s more, the potential prog governor essentially told them to shut it if they took exception.
The NoVA noblesse wouldn’t dream of punching a Youngkin ticket, for fear of being outed as an icky, racist, misogynist, jingoist, xenophobic conservative. And even if they harbor reservations about the neo-racialism of CRT pedagogy, they’ll stay dummied up.
Anything to keep the pension payouts rolling. For the well-heeled left of Virginia, there’s always a way to buy their children out, whether it’s a Swiss boarding school, private tutoring, or greasing a college administrator’s palm. For the rest, there’s an untested new governor.