Oh Hey, Virginia Gov Glenn Youngkin A Assh*le, Who’d Have Guessed?
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin ran a campaign that affirmatively denied he was Donald Trump, and he’s not, in fact. However, he is a Republican, which is just as bad. He’s only been in office a couple weeks but he’s already gone full Ron DeSantis, which is a surprise to no one who understands that Republicans are uniformly awful. Unfortunately, the press itself seems defiantly clueless to this reality.
The Washington Post ran an article about Youngkin’s "assertive first week in office” that has left "Republicans jubilant, Democrats fuming.” Whenever Republicans are “jubilant,” you know you’re in trouble. It’s like when someone smiles and reveals five sets of shark teeth. That’s never encouraging.
The Post story begins absurdly:
The big unknown about Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) as he ran for office last year — apart from the exact size of his vast fortune — was just how red the political newcomer really was behind that easygoing demeanor.
This is revisionist history posing as journalism. Youngkin never even pretended he was a moderate. He vowed to ban critical race theory on “day one,” nobly solving a “crisis” he’d helped exploit. He openly embraced public-education-shredding “school choice.” He opposed vaccine and mask mandates. He admitted during a debate, which was televised and everything, that he supported a 20-week abortion ban. Nonetheless, 57 percent of white women voted for Youngkin — maybe because he was so “easygoing.” You don’t want anyone shouting at you while denying your basic freedoms. That’s just rude.
Youngkin stormed into Richmond with an assertion of executive power that has thrilled the GOP base but caught even some allies off guard, and he has made clear that he views his two-point margin of victory as a mandate for conservative change.
That’s because elections don’t hand out participation trophies. No matter how narrow the margin, the winner gets the keys to the castle, and the loser gets nothing. Republicans also only really care about how white people voted, and Youngkin dominated that demographic. So, yes, he hasn’t tip-toed through the tulips. He steamrolled through public health, banning school mask mandates and demonizing the districts who’ve resisted. He’s already announced plans to roll back voting rights, slash taxes, and gut unions.
Youngkin’s partisan tone and actions have shocked many people who should’ve known better. Political analyst Bill Scher wondered: "Why did @GlennYoungkin campaign on being a uniter and ending division, then start his governorship by bullying school districts on mask mandates and ignoring public opinion?” Youngkin might’ve mangled some words from Dr. Martin Luther King, but the actual racist content of his campaign’s character would’ve embarrassed Lee Atwater.
Why did @GlennYoungkin campaign on being a uniter and ending division, then start his governorship by bullying school districts on mask mandates and ignoring public opinion?\n\nMy @monthly analysis:https://washingtonmonthly.com/2022/01/24/with-bans-on-local-school-mask-mandates-youngkin-begins-governorship-by-bullying/\u00a0\u2026— Bill Scher (@Bill Scher) 1643026917
Public opinion on abortions rights and COVID-19 policies mean very little if a majority of Virginians vote for the Republican candidate who openly states they'll do the exact opposite. Elections are the only polls that matter.
Scher also contends that Youngkin campaigned as a “genial moderate,” but the only true moderates are in the Democratic Party. You can’t throw a rock in DC without hitting a Democratic moderate who’ll apologize for provoking you. However, “easygoing moderate” is too often shorthand for “calm white guy,” even though that would also describe Ralph Reed. Trump’s biggest gift to Republicans is the superficial contrast he provides. He’s Al Bundy to their Cliff Huxtable, even if their actual politics aren’t that different.
Back in 2000, George W. Bush ran as a “compassionate conservative,” a “uniter not a divider,” and two years into his presidency, America had invaded Iraq and was torturing people on Guantanamo Bay. Republicans keep getting away with this obvious scam because, deep down, their voters want to be conned.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."