And you thought Charlottesville was just an aberration, a blip on Virginia's forward progress into the 21st Century which is now 22 years old. Some of us might have even fallen for the line about those tiki-torch bearers all being from out of state. Well, guess what, even if they were, we can bet that they were welcomed to Virginia.
Virginia, you had a chance to prove my above statement wrong on Tuesday. You failed. You might not all be racists, at least openly, but you sure know how to make your racist statements as a whole. Old traditions die hard.
Yesterday, I wrote about Arizonan dumbasses. Well, speaking of dumb asses. Virginia has a state motto. It's "Virginia Is For Lovers." You can buy coffee mugs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, bumper stickers and all sorts of things with this particular state motto printed on it. It's even on their license plates. What this week's election shows us, however, is that Virginia's motto should be "Virginia Is For Racists." They should change their license plates. If they put "Virginia Is For Racists" on shirts and mugs, etc., they'd make a fortune. Having once lived there for a year and visited several times since, I can honestly say that virtually every Virginia Republican I have spoken with would buy something that incorporated that more truthful slogan. Only 20 years ago, they even elected a $enator named George "Macaca" Allen (2001-2007) who liked to pal around with white supremacist buddies and featured a Confederate flag and a noose in his office. Before that, he was their Governor and a state legislator. To be fair, today's Virginians might not buy the t-shirt and wear it outside uncovered but if you were in their homes, there's a better than even chance that you would at least find a "Virginia Is For Racists" coffee mug in the kitchen dish drainer or maybe a nice banner placed right under a Confederate flag on a wall in the rec room or in the garage next to a whole set of used tiki-torches. It's that undercurrent of Virginia life that Virginia's new republican Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin mined to gain election. Youngkin knows his people.
Tuesday's vote does not lie. The votes are in and counted and Virginia once again has a republican governor, and, all talk of the election being rigged ahead of time literally magically disappeared overnight. Yes, the Democratic Party once again ran a horrible past his sale date candidate for an office and, as far as I can determine, no past Virginia governor has ever won a new term after previously leaving office. Virginia republican and so-called independent voters wanted someone new and there's absolutely nothing new about Terry McAuliffe. He is a man out of time in more ways than one. He is a Clintonian fossil who peaked 30 years ago. On top of that McAuliffe allowed himself and the race to be defined before the race had barely begun. The democrats might as well have run Michael Dukakis.
The Republican Party and their candidate made the election for governor about race. It works nearly every time. With George H.W. Bush, it was Willie Horton. With Ronald Reagan, it was starting his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi as a dog whistle celebration of the murder and burial of three civil rights workers in an earthen dam. This time, it was two prong. The Republican Party made the election for governor about teaching students about racial issues and the need to ban a book by Pulitzer Prize author Toni Morrison because sex situations were mentioned. What a shocker. An award winning novel by an Afican-American woman is bad but putting books by white men such as D.H. Lawrence and Henry Miller on the student reading list for a high school advanced placement literature class is A-OK, full speed ahead. On top of that, the student whose parents launched the whole idiocy was a 17 year old boy, as if a 17 year old boy in 2021 America has never heard of the things described in Morrison's book! Obviously, the sexual material depicted was not the real issue but it was a useful cover. The other big scary bugaboo that republicans made use of was the idea of critical race theory being taught in Virginia schools. Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin made a huge issue of critical race theory being taught in Virginia schools and he pledged to ban it. Funny thing is, it isn't taught in any Virginia schools so what is there to ban? In fact, the only place it is taught anywhere in the country seems to be in some colleges and law schools. Youngkin played his voters for suckers and they eagerly ate it up because of their racism which, depending on the individual voter, is either an overt part of their personas or is buried under the surface just waiting for some cynical racist politician to come along and ignite their hidden fears. Many of these voters will tell you to your face that they aren't racist and they will no doubt do it while saying something racist. We all know people like this. Most of those interviewed on local and national TV can't explain what CRT is but they make it clear that they don't like it one bit, whatever it is. It just sorta smells black you know!
Most people, including Virginia's republican voters and many of the media commentators from across the political spectrum that I made a point of checking out the day after the election neglected to bring up the racist framework of Governor-Elect Youngkin's campaign. This is true even of some who I expect better from. They won't make the charge. Instead, they say a huge reason that Youngkin won was because of the issue of parents "wanting control over student curriculums." That phrase is nothing but code for the two issues I mentioned above, Morrison and CRT. Strip away all the rhetoric and bullshit and it comes down to race and racial fear. If you ask most Virginia republicans Virginian republicans what the big issues were that motivated them to vote for Youngkin, they will use that code phrase to explain themselves. That may be true but the driving force behind it is clearly the racial aspect of what they found objectionable. Youngkin managed to equate education with race. Youngkin looked at his voters as fearful, twitchy little rodents and played the race card magnificently. It was straight out of the traditional republican playbook and it worked. It usually does. My my, what very fine people.
Postscript: And let's not forget that Virginia's outgoing democratic governor is best known to us outsiders for having posed in blackface for his medical school yearbook. Virginians sure know how to pick 'em. Stay tuned for exciting news about the new guy. You know it's coming sooner or later.