Last year, Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by 10% in the state of Virginia. Democrats believed this swing state, which has been gradually shifting from Republican to Democrat, had completed the transition and become a deep blue stronghold.
Democrats were dead wrong. Yesterday, in the Virginia governor’s race, Republican Glenn Youngkin beat Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a popular former governor of the state. As if to further chasten the Democrats, karma dealt a historically heavy blow: A Black Republican, Winsome Sears, was elected lieutenant governor, becoming the first woman of color ever to win statewide office in Virginia’s history. Jason Miyares, also a Republican, was elected as the state’s first Hispanic attorney general. All of this happened after Democrats have spent the last few years saying that Republicans are supposedly a bunch of deplorable racists.
Four years ago, when Ralph Northam was running for governor, I was serving as a Democratic Party county chairman in southwestern Virginia, doing everything I could to help Northam and our fellow Democrats get elected. This year — despite voting for Joe Biden in 2020 and strongly disapproving of ex-president Donald Trump — I chose not to vote in the Virginia governor’s race between Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe. It was the first time I didn’t vote in a major election in more than 20 years.
I’ve been a Democrat since the presidency of George W. Bush, and at times I have passionately supported the Democratic philosophy and candidates. But not anymore. In this post, I’m “coming out” as an independent and former Democrat. I’ll explain why I’ve left the party and why millions of Americans like myself are doing so — propelling Republicans like Glenn Youngkin to victory in previously solid blue states such as Virginia.
In my case, I didn’t actually vote for Youngkin, because I felt he didn’t distance himself enough from the dangerous conspiracy theorist Donald Trump. Youngkin presented himself as a Trump supporter to conservatives and as a more traditional Republican to moderates. Unlike most voters, I have high moral standards for politicians and a low tolerance for two-faced campaign strategies.
However, I couldn’t bring myself to vote for McAuliffe either, because I didn’t agree with him on the most important issues in the campaign. The Democrats have changed — in a way that excludes people like me.
There were two key issues in the Virginia governor’s race: racism, and racism again. Specifically, the issues were racism as it relates to law enforcement and education. In my opinion, the Democrats were the party of an extreme obsession with racism, whereas the Republicans were the party of common sense. This is why Glenn Youngkin won.
When George Floyd was murdered last year by a police officer, the Black Lives Matter protests generated tremendous support for an insane idea called “defund the police.” Despite rising rates of violent crime, and riots in major American cities that ironically illustrated the need for well-funded police departments, Democrats across America began calling for police budgets to be cut, in solidarity with Black people who are disproportionately at risk of being killed during encounters with over-aggressive police officers. Democrats claimed that the institution of police is “systemically racist,” and therefore that we should have fewer cops on the beat.
This ideology became so common among Democrats that white liberals who didn’t support the BLM agenda of defunding the police were routinely accused of racism. I experienced this myself on social media. A woman from a church I used to attend called me a racist, simply because I said I agreed with Democratic Congressman James Clyburn, a distinguished African American leader, who said defunding the police was a bad idea. The person said that because I was white, I could not express agreement with Clyburn’s position, or else I was racist.
This was not the only example of such slanders against fellow liberals — I have experienced similar things repeatedly. Every time, it has made me identify less with the political left, and less likely to vote for the Democratic politicians who pander to such extremists in order to secure the votes of their base and win elections.
Elections have consequences. The seemingly monomaniacal focus of Democrats today on what they perceive as racism has led to some bizarre and dangerous policies, including in the state of Virginia. Under Democratic control, the Virginia state government passed a law which went into effect this year, prohibiting police officers from stopping motorists for an expired registration, driving without a seatbelt, or incredibly, even when they smell marijuana smoke wafting from the vehicle. So, in Virginia today, the police literally cannot stop you if you’re driving while high. I wonder how many auto accidents — and deaths — might result from this new policy?
The new Virginia law is the result of excessively “race conscious” politics which has become common among Democrats. Apparently, Democrats are worried that more Black motorists may be driving under the influence of pot, and so they don’t want the police stopping such motorists, for fear that it would be “systemically racist” to do so. So, in Virginia, the law cannot be enforced to ensure that people on the roads are driving safely — all because of Democrats’ obsession with racism. Disturbingly, such laws limiting legitimate traffic stops are spreading to Democratic-controlled cities and states across America.
Glenn Youngkin ran ads in the Virginia governor’s race assuring voters that he supports law enforcement, and staunchly opposes defunding the police or stripping cops of their necessary authority to keep order in society. The average Virginian took note, and many who previously voted Democrat switched to the Republican in this election, as a result.
Also worth noting: In Minneapolis, where the “defund the police” movement began, voters soundly defeated a ballot referendum to dismantle the city’s police department — a strong repudiation of self-righteous progressives and their dangerous ideas.
The other major issue in the Virginia race (pun intended) was what children should be taught about racism in public schools. Should they simply be taught the facts of history — that systemic racism was a terrible part of America’s past — or should they also be taught that Americans today should be viewed as “oppressors” or “victims” depending on their color?
A radical left-wing ideology called Critical Race Theory has emerged as a defining philosophy of Democrats today. CRT is taught in law schools as a controversial framework for discussing the law through a race-conscious lens. Essentially, CRT argues that “color-blind” laws perpetuate systemic racism against people of color. For example, if the police are empowered to stop any motorist who has marijuana smoke wafting from their car, that law may be used more heavily against Black drivers — and therefore, because of unequal outcomes, the law is racist. According to Critical Race Theory, even if police officers are not intending to be prejudiced in their enforcement of the law, it’s still an example of systemic racism.
Critical Race Theory therefore asserts that our society today is riddled with racism — not just the racism of some individuals, but our entire social structure and public institutions. This, despite the fact that our laws today are race-neutral — unlike in the times before the civil rights movement when the law discriminated against Black people. CRT says that race-neutral laws only disguise the systemic racism that still exists today. The remedy? To always be thinking about people’s race, and change the law so that it takes race into consideration rather than treating people the same regardless of color.
I think this theory is racist — and most Americans probably agree with me. It is a liberal, do-gooding type of racism, but racism nonetheless. It is the kind of mentality that Dr. Martin Luther King stood up against, in his battle for racial equality (not “equity,” or equal outcomes enforced by race-conscious government policies). “I have a dream,” he said, that his children’s generation “will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” That day has not yet come — in part because of liberals. The goal of true anti-racism is not to focus on people’s race, but to move beyond it — to get to the point where we see people as human, not colors.
In the Virginia public schools, a debate has been raging this year about whether or not kids should be taught Critical Race Theory. Crowds of conservatives have shown up at school board meetings, most notably in suburban Loudoun County, demanding that the members repudiate CRT and pledge that children will not be taught to view each other through a racial lens. They don’t want the next generation of Virginians growing up with their teachers pushing a left-wing racial ideology that makes Black children feel like eternal victims and white children feel they must “check their privilege” or else they are “oppressors.” Instead, conservatives argue that children’s social studies classes should simply teach the facts of American history — including the facts about slavery, segregation, and other forms of systemic racism that occurred in the past — without wading into political debates about whether, or to what degree, systemic racism may linger today.
Liberal journalists claim that CRT is not taught in Virginia public schools. But the Virginia Department of Education has actually promoted Critical Race Theory. And the Loudoun County school district paid $625 per hour to diversity consultants for “Critical Race Theory Development.” The Loudoun County superintendent of schools admitted in writing that the school district’s philosophy does “align with the ideology of CRT.”
Most of the time, other terminology is used, such as “Combat[ing] Systemic Racism,” or the increasingly common and vague term Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion — enabling liberals to deny that CRT itself is being taught or promoted in the schools. This denial is based on a disingenuous linguistic technicality. No matter what terms are used, the facts show that a liberal elite is trying to push CRT, or something like it, on impressionable children — focusing a lot on race, promoting a victimhood mentality among people of color and a sense of never-ending shame and guilt among white people.
In a debate with Glenn Youngkin, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” He was responding to Youngkin, who said, “I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education.” Youngkin was defending the rights of parents to be involved in the decision-making process about what public schools will teach about controversial issues such as racism and gender identity. McAuliffe, however, said that the parents should essentially be excluded — apparently, only liberal elite educators and their allies on the school boards should have a say about such things.
McAuliffe’s gaffe caused him to plummet in the polls, as Youngkin ran lots of ads on the issue, assuring Virginia voters that he does not view parents as the enemy of good education. Many decent, non-prejudiced Virginians probably got the impression that McAuliffe views them as a bunch of “deplorables” who should stay out of education policy and leave it up to liberal experts who support radical left-wing ideologies. Youngkin emerged as the defender of ordinary people who just want their kids to be taught normal history, reading and math, rather than liberal politics in the schools.
These are the main reasons Glenn Youngkin was able to pull off a shocking upset victory against Terry McAuliffe, in a state that has trended deep blue in recent years. Youngkin did this despite carrying the substantial negative baggage of Trump. He never truly distanced himself from Trump, but he did present himself as a normal, decent human being rather than a raging lunatic as Trump so often has done. That was enough for many voters — mainstream, middle-of-the-road voters who don’t like Trump but who really don’t like the extreme “woke” left that has increasingly taken over the Democratic Party.
What does this mean for the future of American politics? I believe it means Democrats are in deep trouble. Their cultural orientation toward the radical left is dragging them down electorally. The only thing that has been keeping Democrats competitive is the toxic presence of Donald Trump as the face of the Republican Party. If Republicans can move on, at least to some degree, from Trump and his wild conspiracy theories — while continuing to support some of his conservative populist ideas, as Glenn Youngkin did — they will become America’s majority party for the foreseeable future.
Democrats might be able to restore their political fortunes if they reject the liberal activist wing of the party that wants to focus so much on identity politics. But that would be just as challenging as it is for Republicans to reject Donald Trump. Self-styled “progressives” provide so much of the volunteer energy and voter turnout among Democrats — and the progressive movement has been taken over by a woke mob. So, Democrats are caught between a rock and a hard place. They need to win back the kind of moderate and independent voters who voted for Glenn Youngkin, but they can’t do too much to alienate the left wing of their party in the process.
The way forward for Democrats, in my opinion, would be to focus on bread-and-butter, kitchen-table issues that affect all Americans (e.g., jobs, health care, physical infrastructure and economic growth) that can unite both liberals and moderates, instead of divisive culture war issues. Republicans today are winning the culture war, because the Democrats have gone too far to the left on social attitudes and policies — as evidenced by Youngkin’s victory in a state that Democrats should have won easily.
The way forward for Republicans, meanwhile, is to replicate the model of Glenn Youngkin. Stand for common sense conservative policies, and firmly but politely oppose radical left-wing ideologies. Act like a decent person, rather than a sociopathic madman like Trump and his extreme allies in Congress.
I hope that both political parties will take note and act accordingly. Maybe then, we can make America sane again.