Nearly a year ago, then-Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin shocked Washington, D.C.’s pundit class after beating out Democrat Terry McAuliffe to become Virginia’s 74th governor.
In what should have been a cinch election for Democrats in a state Joe Biden won by 10 points in the 2020 presidential election, Republicans ended up sweeping every major statewide office and regaining control of the Virginia House of Delegates. To say that the upset put most “professional” pollsters to shame is an understatement.
While Youngkin’s victory could have been in part due to growing electoral dissatisfaction with Biden’s presidency, the major shift toward Republicans among Virginia voters is far more likely due to Youngkin’s embrace of culture war issues — specifically, education.
When The Daily Wire dropped a bombshell report during the waning weeks of the election cycle revealing that the Loudoun County School Board had covered up a female student’s alleged rape at the hands of a “gender-fluid” boy in a school bathroom, Youngkin made the calculated decision to ignore the GOP’s old school, “It’s the economy, stupid!” pundit class and instead keep parental rights in education a central focus of his campaign.
Whether it was opposing the left’s push for critical race theory in Virginia’s education system or schools allowing boys purporting to be girls to use women’s locker rooms and bathrooms, Youngkin’s foray into the state’s culture war allowed him and state Republicans to ride to victory on Election Day. The election didn’t just give Virginia its first GOP governor in nearly a decade; it gave Republicans a palpable strategy for winning statewide races in Democrat strongholds.
Despite the attempts by America’s media propagandists to brand Youngkin’s win as some sort of racist backlash by white voters, the stark reality brought to light in the Virginia contest is that the vast majority of parents — regardless of their backgrounds — want their child to receive a quality education in a safe environment where they, the parents, are granted insight into the school’s policies and curricula. And given that most Democrats often bend to the will of the teachers unions funding their campaigns and fighting against academic transparency, the issue remains a slam dunk win for Republicans.
The Strategy Spreads
As the country marches closer to Election Day 2022, several Republican candidates running for office in more Democrat-friendly states have taken notice of the electoral success achieved through parental rights advocacy and are working to capitalize on such issues in the final weeks of their respective campaigns.
After a blistering report came out revealing that Michigan’s Education Department is encouraging teachers to “sexually transition” students behind their parents’ backs, GOP gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon has decided to make education a major focal point of her campaign to unseat the state’s Democrat governor, Gretchen Whitmer. In addition to calling out Whitmer for her “embrace of radical gender and race activism,” Dixon has “demanded that State Superintendent Rice resign immediately” based on the reported actions of the Education Department.
On Wednesday, the Michigan GOP gubernatorial nominee also released a proposal known as the “Age-Appropriate Classroom Instruction Act,” which would “require school districts to ensure that their schools do not provide classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade or in any manner that is not age or developmentally appropriate.” The measure is modeled after Florida’s recently enacted “Parental Rights in Education” bill.
In Maine, former governor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage is also focusing on parental rights heading into the final weeks of election season. Most recently, the Maine Republican released his “Parents Bill of Rights,” which aims to bring greater transparency to schools’ curricula and increase the role of parents in their children’s education.
“We want to make sure that the money follows the student. It’s critical that the parents, the kids, choose where their kids are going to go to school,” LePage told a local Maine news outlet. “I don’t care whichever school is best for the child to learn, the student to learn, is where we have to go.”
A recent investigative report from Breitbart News found that the Education Department of Maine’s Democrat Gov. Janet Mills is actively referring to phrases such as “Make America Great Again,” or “MAGA,” as a form of covert racism and white supremacy. Other terms and phrases labeled as racist language include “All Lives Matter,” “paternalism,” “colorblindness,” and more.
Education Is a Winning Issue
While the state of the country’s economy and skyrocketing inflation are certain to be major campaign issues for Republicans this fall, they cannot be the only issue. If Youngkin’s victory taught conservatives anything, it’s that restoring some semblance of sanity to America’s institutions isn’t achieved by running away from culture war issues, but by embracing them.
Following the Youngkin model on education should become a top priority for Republicans running in competitive states across the country, especially in those deemed “toss-ups” or “Democrat-leaning.” The educational success and well-being of students is an issue that both cuts across party lines and forces Democrat politicians to show voters just how comfortable they are with schools hiding vital information about kids from their parents.